Get the latest updates as we post them — right on your browser

. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Shooting Sparks Rift In Guard and Militia

A shooting incident that left one Russian parliament guard dead and another seriously wounded sparked an open rift Wednesday between the chiefs of the White House guards and Moscow's militia.

The 5, 000 guards, who come under the control of parliamentary speaker Ruslan Khasbulatov, have been the objects of some controversy lately, and the shooting, which took place near Lubyanka Square on Tuesday night, has raised the issue anew.

"The guards are Khasbulatov's private army", asserted a police officer; who said he arrived on the scene only minutes after the shooting. He appeared nervous and declined to be named.

Exactly what happened is unclear. Accounts of the incident agree that a policeman shot at two unarmed off-duty White House guards outside 9 Bolshoi Cherkassky Pereulok on Tuesday night, hitting one with two bullets and the other with four.

But other details are in dispute, with the Moscow militia claiming that the policeman fired in self-defense and the deputy chief of the parliamentary guards saying that they were killed in cold blood.

A statement handed out to members of parliament on Wednesday and signed S. Karasyov, deputy chief of the Directorate for the Highest State Organs -- the new name for the White House guards -- said that three guards had left a cafeteria after being approached by a man who offered to sell them drugs.

Outside, two of the guards followed the man, identified as B. Yennekov, who was allegedly drunk. The guards, Captains Vladimir Nikitin and Boris Markin, were both dressed in civilian clothes. They showed their identification cards and searched Yennekov.

They found no drugs. But after letting Yennekov go they were approached by a policeman in an overcoat and no hat, identified as S. Zykov in the statement. Moments later he had shot Nikitin and Markin. Nikitin was killed and Markin wounded by four bullets.

The third guard, Anatoly Trofimov, was elsewhere during the shooting and returned just in time to see Zykov reload his gun, according to the parliamentary document.

But the police officer at Station No. 46, where Trofimov is now being held, said the real story was "different" and that Zykov had shot to defend himself.

According to Mikhail Kharitoyenko, a spokesman at the Interior Ministry, preliminary investigations held by the local prosecutor's office confirmed that the policeman shot in self-defense.

According to him, Zykov found the three guards beating up an Asian man. When he asked them to stop and identified himself, they began to beat him as well. He suffered slight concussion, fell down and shot to protect himself.

Known as the "Cardinal's Guards", the parliament's security men in fact protect some 75 official buildings around Moscow, Igor Nikulin, chairman of a parliamentary working group on security issues told Komsomolskaya Pravda in an interview published Tuesday.

"I don't want to cas't any aspersions on Ruslan Imranovich", Nikulin told the paper in reference to Khasbulatov. "But he has the opportunity to use this group of almost 5, 000 armed people at his own discretion".

Controversy over the guards erupted on Oct. 9 when a man who turned out to be Khasbulatov's cousin was arrested for waving a gun at a taxi driver.

According to Reuters, Khusin Arsanakhayev had a license for the gun and an official pass for the White House.

"The parliament guards have no right to issue such permits", Nikulin said. "Only the relevant Interior Ministry can do so".