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Russian media: 16-year-old Russian arrested for allegedly torching Su-34 jet at Chelyabinsk airbase

by Nate Ostiller and The Kyiv Independent news desk January 7, 2024 4:36 PM 2 min read
A Russian Su-34 jet set on fire at the Shagol airbase in Chelyabinsk, Russia, overnight on Jan. 4, 2024. (HUR/Telegram video screenshot)
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A 16-year-old boy from the North Caucasian Russian republic of Dagestan was arrested for allegedly torching a Su-34 fighter jet at an airbase in Chelyabinsk, local Russian media reported on Jan. 7.

The jet was lit on fire overnight on Jan. 4 while parked at the Shagol airbase outside of Chelyabinsk, some 2,000 kilometers east of the Ukrainian border. Ukraine's military intelligence agency (HUR) released a video of the jet being lit on fire but did not explicitly take responsibility for the sabotage.

Earlier on Jan. 4, Ukrainska Pravda reported that the HUR was behind the torching, citing an undisclosed intelligence source.

While the HUR said that the aircraft burnt down, the full extent of damage to the plane, which costs at least $50 million, is not apparent from the published footage.

The jet belonged to the 21st Mixed Aviation Division of the Russian Air Force, the HUR said.

Russian media claimed that the fire was quickly extinguished and did not cause any major damage, but did not release evidence to support the claim. The Dagestani boy was arrested the following day. A city court in Chelyabinsk ordered him into pre-trial detention on Jan. 7.

The Russian state-run media outlet TASS reported on Jan. 5, citing information from Russia's Federal Security Service (FSB) that a suspect had been arrested in the case, and added that the individual in question was also allegedly involved in other sabotage attacks on Russian infrastructure in Dagestan.

TASS claimed that the FSB had found evidence of the suspect's correspondence with Ukrainian intelligence.

There is no way to independently verify this information. Russia does not provide transparent access to its legal system, and international human rights organizations have long detailed rampant abuse in its justice system, as well as the use of torture.

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