(JTA) – A prominent member of the Russian Jewish Congress (RJC) was severely wounded in Moscow in what the group said may have been an armed anti-Semitic attack.
Sergey Ustinov, a 62-year-old businessman and RJC board member who in 2011 founded the Museum of the History of Jews in Russia, was shot Thursday afternoon by a lone assailant who then fled, the Moskovskij Komsomolets daily reported.
Ustinov was hit in the neck. He is in critical but stable condition, according to the report. The weapon used was a sawed-off Osa pistol, which is typically used for firing blanks and flares, Komsomolets reported. Classified as a “non-lethal handgun,” it is not commonly used in assassinations.
The shooting was in the parking lot of Ustinov’s real-estate agency, which is adjacent to the Jewish museum on Petrovsko-Razumovskaya Street 10 on the northwestern edge of the Russian capital’s centre.
In a statement, the Russian Jewish Congress wrote it was too early to draw any concrete conclusions about the motives behind the attack.
But, “at the same time, the demonstrative nature of the attack and its proximity to Jewish Museum, next to which it was committed, may indicate nationalist underpinnings,” the Congress’ statement read.
The group called on Russian Minister of Internal Affairs Vladimir Kolokoltsov to “give special attention to the investigation of the attack on one of the leading figures of the Jewish community in Russia” and to “adequately qualify this crime, if it turns out to have been committed on the grounds of ethnic hatred.”
In March, an unknown assailant killed opposition leader Boris Nemtsov, a physicist turned liberal politician who was born to a Jewish mother but baptized in the Orthodox Church.