The director and founder of a Moscow Jewish museum was shot and seriously injured outside the institution by an unidentified assailant on Thursday.
Sergei Ustinov, a writer and businessman who is a prominent member of Moscow’s Jewish community and who also serves as vice president of the Russian Jewish Congress, was shot by a lone assailant who delivered a single projectile to Ustinov’s neck before fleeing the scene, the Moskovskij Komsomolets daily reported.
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.
Police said they were investigating several possible motives for the crime, including a business dispute and anti-Semitism.
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 (the) Jewish Museum, next to which it was committed, may indicate nationalist underpinnings,” the Congress’s 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.”
The shooting happened at the parking lot of Ustinov’s real-estate agency, which is adjacent to the museum on Petrovsko-Razumovskaya Street 10 on the northwestern edge of the Russian capital’s center.
The Museum of Jewish History in Russia, located in Moscow, is a private institution founded in 2011 by Ustinov with the backing of the RJC. According to its website, it houses over 4,000 items pertaining to Russia’s Jewish history over the past 200 years.