One of Russia’s richest public officials told police he mistakenly shot dead a man while he was trying to target a bear that was posing a danger to the local community.
Igor Redkin, a local assembly deputy in the remote Kamchatka region in the country’s far east, said that he had wanted to go after the bear because it had been wandering around a landfill.
“I took the weapon and decided to scare him away,” he said, according to a statement on Tuesday to his lawyer, provided to the local news outlet Kam 24.
He said he fired at what he believed to be the animal around dusk on August 2. However, he later found out that a local resident had been wounded in the same area of the shooting, before eventually dying.
“I shot at the bear,” said millionaire lawmaker Igor Redkin. “Later I learned that a local resident was wounded in the area around the same time and died in the hospital”https://t.co/uImK7OGL89— The Moscow Times (@MoscowTimes) August 11, 2021
Kam 24 had earlier reported that 30-year-old Andrei Tolstopyatov was found dead and a bullet had been removed from his body. Media have also disputed Redkin’s account, with some reports saying he had been shooting in the area while drunk.
Redkin owns fishing and aviation businesses. Forbes Russia listed him as the country’s 20th richest public official with a net worth of 715.7 million rubles ($9.7 million).
Redkin said he had suspended his membership in United Russia, the country’s ruling party, and would end his re-election campaign to the regional assembly in next month’s elections.
The city court of Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky said that the lawmaker had been placed under house arrest for two months, pending a murder investigation, news agency Tass reported. Newsweek has contacted the court for further comment.
However, Redkin could face lesser charges of manslaughter that may only result in a two-year sentence, according to local news outlets.
Kamchatka is a remote peninsula, over 4,000 miles away from Moscow. It is home to around 20,000 bears who frequently pose a danger to the local population, especially when they are drawn to human settlements by garbage.
Rodion Burakov was mauled to death after he distracted the animal, which had attacked his 13-year-old brother in Kamchatka’s Milkovsky district.
The victim was found partially buried when hunters and firefighters arrived at the scene where they shot the predator on the spot. In August 2018, a 23-year-old employee at Kamchatka’s Kronotsky Nature Reserve was killed by a bear.