Moscow Jewish Museum Director Sergei Ustinov Shot

Sergei Ustinov, founder and director of Moscow's Museum of Jewish History in Russia.
Photo via The Times of Israel.

Sergei Ustinov, founder and director of Moscow’s Museum of Jewish History in Russia, was shot on Thursday near the entrance of the museum, according to The Times of Israel. No information has been published on the identity of the attacker.

The Times quotes a Russian-language newspaper, the Moskovskij Komsomoletsreporting that Ustinov is in critical but stable condition after being shot in the neck by an assailant carrying a sawed-off Osa pistol.

A current exhibition at the Museum of Jewish History in Russia.<br>Photo: Museum of Jewish History in Russia.

A current exhibition at the Museum of Jewish History in Russia.
Photo: via Museum of Jewish History in Russia.

Ustinov has been director of the museum since 2012, according to the museum’s website, which indicates that its holdings span some 4,000 objects, a quarter of which are on display. The museum opened in 2011 and spans 300 years of Jewish life in the country. The museum’s website lists a staff of 11, including three curators.

It is not yet known whether the crime was anti-Semitic in nature. In addition to his role at the museum, Ustinov is also vice president of the Russian Jewish Congress, as well as a contributor to Moskovskij Komsomolets, and has written a few detective novels to boot. 

Police said the attack may have stemmed from a business dispute; Ustinov reportedly owns a real-estate agency whose offices are next door to the museum.

The Russian Jewish Congress has issued a statement saying that “the demonstrative nature of the attack and its proximity to (the) Jewish Museum, next to which it was committed, may indicate nationalist underpinnings.”

According to Haaretz, the group asked Russian Minister of Internal Affairs Vladimir Kolokoltsev 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.”

Last year, four people died after a shooting at the Jewish Museum in Brussels, and last summer, Jewish museums in Norway were temporarily closed after threats.

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