RIO DE JANEIRO — Police in Rio de Janeiro said a Russian diplomat trying to repel an attempted robbery Thursday near the Olympic Park was involved in a shooting that left the assailant dead. The Russian embassy denied any of its employees were involved in the incident.
Rio police said a Russian vice consul wrestled with a gunman who was trying to rob him, causing the weapon to go off and killing the criminal. In a statement to The Associated Press, the Russians refuted the police report.
“There must be a misunderstanding,” the embassy said in an email late Thursday.
The Russian government also said its representatives are not armed. It pointed out that consulate officials are “Russian citizens with Russian names,” contrary to media reports that gave a Brazilian-sounding name.
Authorities did not officially identify any of the people involved in the incident, and only said the man who was attacked was a lawyer and a vice consul for Russia.
The O Globo newspaper and other local media said the Russian diplomat practiced Jiu-jitsu. They reported that he was driving with his wife and daughter when he got stuck at a traffic jam on a main highway of Barra da Tijuca, home to the Olympic Park. Two gunmen in motorcycles attacked, media said. The police only talked about the assailant, who was killed.
“The vice consul got into a physical confrontation with the aggressor, and during the fight, the assailant’s gun was fired several times,” said the police statement. The homicide unit opened an investigation.
Such street muggings are common in Rio de Janeiro streets, especially in areas with heavy traffic, where motorcycles can drive in between lanes, attack motorists and escape easily. Authorities say they are deploying 85,000 troops and soldiers during the games, which run from August 5-21.
Russia has been embroiled in a doping scandal which has seen up to 30 percent of its Olympics athletes disqualified from the Games.
The International Olympic Committee announced the go-ahead for 271 Russian athletes about 24 hours before the opening ceremony of the games on Friday. Overall, more than 100 Russians have been excluded, including 67 in track and field.
Russian Olympic Committee president Alexander Zhukov told reporters on Thursday that 271 of his country’s athletes had been cleared.
“We have good news for the fans of the Russian Olympic team,” he said. “The majority of the sports have been admitted in full.”
Zhukov added: “I think there is no other team that is so clean and so carefully controlled than the Russian one.”
Copyright 2016 The Associated Press.
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