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Russian military recruitment official who appeared on Ukraine blacklist shot dead while jogging

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A Russian official tasked with organizing military recruitment was shot dead in the southwestern city of Krasnodar while he was out jogging, authorities said, as the army looks to mobilize forces to fight in Ukraine. According to the Russian state-run news agency TASS, citing police sources, the victim was Stanislav Rzhitski.

Rzhitski had appeared on an official Ukrainian database listing alleged war criminals, Reuters and the BBC reported.

The body of the 42-year-old with "gunshot wounds" was found on Monday morning, the Investigative Committee, which probes serious crimes, said in a statement later in the day.

Rzhitski worked as the deputy to the Krasnodar city administration official in charge of "mobilization operations" for the army, they said.

Investigators said they were seeking to identify the person behind the incident and establish a possible motive.

Russian MP and former mayor of Krasnodar, Yevgeny Pervychov, said on Telegram that Rzhitski served in the navy, where he was notably commander of the "Krasnodar" submarine.

FILE PHOTO: Russian Kilo-class diesel-electric submarine Krasnodar sets sail in the Bosphorus, on its way to the Mediterranean Sea, in Istanbul
A Turkish Coast Guard boat escorts Russian Kilo-class diesel-electric submarine Krasnodar as it sails in the Bosphorus, on its way to the Mediterranean Sea, in Istanbul, March 14, 2019. MURAD SEZER/REUTERS

Several Russian media outlets speculated he may have been tracked via his profile on the Strava fitness app, the BBC reported.

Baza, a Russian Telegram channel with close ties to the police, reported that the killer could have tracked Rzhitsky's runs on Strava as he followed the same route while running, the BBC reported. A BBC analysis of Rzhitsky's profile, which is public, shows that he frequently ran through the area where he is reported to have been killed. Facial analysis carried out by the BBC confirmed the profile belonged to Rzhitsky.

Rzhitski was shot in the back and the chest near the Olimp sports center, the BBC reported, citing Russian daily newspaper Kommersant.

Reuters reported that Rhitski's address and personal information had been posted to the Ukrainian website Myrotvorets (Peacemaker), an unofficial database of people considered to be enemies of Ukraine. On Tuesday, the word "Liquidated" had been superimposed on his photograph on the databse.  

Since April, the Russian army has been conducting a vast military recruitment operation, running massive advertising campaigns, promising big salaries and other perks.

The aim of the drive is to replenish forces on the frontline in Ukraine, without resorting to another mobilization — a step that the Kremlin took last September which proved unpopular.

In a sign of a degree of hostility towards the conflict, dozens of people have been arrested and accused of setting fire to — or planning to set fire to — recruitment centers since the beginning of the offensive in Ukraine.

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