Rio police, Russians disagree on fatality

Published 1:19 am Friday, August 5, 2016

RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) — 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.

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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.