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Yuri CHUBAROV

 
 
 
 
 

 

 

 

   


A.K.A.: "The Hunter"
 
Classification: Mass murderer
Characteristics: Revenge - Farmer and retired Russian soldier
Number of victims: 7
Date of murder: September 20, 1997
Date of birth: 1950
Victims profile: Five men and two women
Method of murder: Shooting (hunting rifle)
Location: Iecava, Latvia
Status: Committed suicide by shooting himself the same day
 
 
 
 
 
 

A Latvian man committed suicide in a forest after shooting to death seven people with an automatic hunting rifle, police said. A dog sniffed out the body of the attacker, identified as Yuri Chubarov, 47, after a manhunt involving more than 500 people.

The body was found about one mile from the scene of the shooting rampage. A local news agency reported that the killings were an apparent revenge attack, as the man had accused his victims of setting fire to his house.

 
 

Man Believed to Have Slain 7 Kills Himself

Iecava, Latvia

Opened fire on a family while they were picking potatoes in southern Latvia, killing five men and two women. An eighth person is in critical condition in a hospital in the southern city of Bauska.

He committed suicide in a forest a mile form the scene of his shooting spree. Criminal police chief Alois Blonskis said a tracker dog sniffed out the body of the attacker. A helicopter, police officers, an elite anti-terrorist unit and the paramilitary Home Guard were all drafted in to hunt for the killer and roadblocks were thrown up in the region.

 
 

7 are slain in Latvia while picking potatoes

The Arizona Republic

September 21, 1997

A man opened fire on a family out picking potatoes in southern Latvia on Saturday, killing seven people. The dead - five men and two women - were all members of the Koshkin family or their acquaintances, Interior Ministry spokesman Normunds Belskis told the Baltic News Service. An eighth person remains in critical condition in a hospital in the southern city of Bauska.

 
 

Killer of 7 found dead after massive manhunt in Latvia

The Orange County Register

September 22, 1997

A man killed himself in a forest after shooting to death seven people with an automatic hunting rifle, police said Sunday in Latvia. Police said a tracking dog sniffed out the body of the attacker, identified as Yuri Chubarov, 47, after a manhunt involving more than 500 people. The body was found about a mile from the scene of his shooting spree.

 
 

Everyone called him The Hunter, but no one imagined he would be a mass killer

Yuri Chubarov, a farmer and retired Russian soldier, arrived in this small town more than 20 years ago, bought a ruined house, fixed it up and lived quietly in a place where keeping to one's self is a virtue.

His problems began after the Soviet Union collapsed. Two branches of the Koshkin family, ethnic Latvians, claimed the acreage where he had his home, and began harassing him by clanging pots and pans outside his door at night. Then, someone burned down the house.

Last September, five of the Koshkins came to visit the property and pick potatoes. The Hunter drove a car up a muddy path, eyed the visitors without a word, then stopped. He pulled four rifles out of the trunk of his car and yelled out, "Privet!" - the Russian way of saying hi.

He shot one after the other, pursuing two Koshkin men and three women across the field, finishing off the wounded with shots to the head. For good measure, he killed two Latvian farmers who were simply helping pick the potatoes.

Iecava lies about 30 miles from Riga and in the master planning of Soviet times was made the egg producing capital of the country (nearby Kekava was the chicken capital). The small town center is is surrounded by checkerboards of farmland and forest.

Paved roads radiating out from Iecava quickly give way to clay that becomes slick in the rain. Peaked wooden houses become fewer as the forests thicken and the farmland shrinks.

Chubarov, The Hunter, worked without incident in a factory here for many years. No one had anything bad to say about him except that his hunting forays sometimes sent children and women indoors for fear of getting hit by stray shot.

As with Latvia's broader problems, people here seem to believe that the Chubarov slayings had less to do with ethnic hatred than with Russian reaction to the changes in Latvia since independence.

Over the past few years, Chubarov had begun to grouse about Latvian independence and the effect it was having on his life. "The Hunter was from Siberia and was used to space and wandering freely. But suddenly, land was being taken and the owners forbade him from hunting on their properties. He began to feel limited," said Olga M., a Russian friend of his in Iecava.

When his house burned down, the police said it was faulty wiring, but no one believed them. "It seems the police chose to ignore footprints in the mud outside," said Iecava's mayor, Janis Pelsis.

After shooting his seven Latvian victims, Chubarov fled to the deep woods. Police and dogs chased him, and he was eventually found dead of a self-inflicted gunshot wound, the police said.

"No one can forgive The Hunter, but he had built the house himself, and someone burned it down. It stayed with him like a disease. He felt surrounded and believed life as he knew it was coming to an end. No one can excuse this, but if the truth be known we all feel a little like him," said his Russian friend Olga M.

 
 

Latvia's Russians: Outsiders Wanting In

By Daniel Williams - The Washington Post

Friday, July 24, 1998

Everyone called him The Hunter, but no one imagined he would be a mass killer.

Yuri Chubarov, a farmer and retired Russian soldier, arrived in this small town more than 20 years ago, bought a ruined house, fixed it up and lived quietly in a place where keeping to one's self is a virtue.

His problems began after the Soviet Union collapsed. Two branches of the Koshkin family, ethnic Latvians, claimed the acreage where he had his home, and began harassing him by clanging pots and pans outside his door at night. Then, someone burned down the house.

Last September, five of the Koshkins came to visit the property and pick potatoes. The Hunter drove a car up a muddy path, eyed the visitors without a word, then stopped. He pulled four rifles out of the trunk of his car and yelled out, "Privet!" the Russian way of saying hi.

He shot one after the other, pursuing two Koshkin men and three women across the field, finishing off the wounded with shots to the head. For good measure, he killed two Latvian farmers who were simply helping pick the potatoes.

The calculated attack shocked the country, for Latvia, a former Soviet republic, had come to regard itself as a place where conflicts are settled in peace and a long history of bullying at gunpoint was over. But Latvia is also an arena for low-grade ethnic tensions between Latvians and a large, dissatisfied Russian minority, the legacy of 50 years of occupation. The killings in Iecava and a more recent series of lesser but well-publicized acts of violence are cautionary tales for Latvians, and for societies throughout the former Soviet empire struggling to establish new identities.

Latvia is under pressure to speed up digestion of a Russian population that has largely remained here since the country's 1991 independence. Language, culture and citizenship are the main issues, but so is a legacy of resentment over the period Latvians call simply "the occupation." On top now, Latvians find it hard to be generous with citizenship, while many Russians refuse to swallow a status that requires them to ask their way into this new state, or learn the language of the majority.

"Both sides have a kind of colonial mentality. The Latvians haven't adjusted to being in control; the Russians still think they are privileged," said Nils Muiznieks, director of the Latvian Center for Human Rights and Ethnic Studies.

At stake is not only Latvia's domestic stability but its still vital relations with Moscow. Problems faced by the Russian minority attract protests from Russia, especially from nationalist politicians bent on scoring emotional electoral points at home. Recently, Moscow reduced oil flows through pipelines that cross Latvia to a Baltic Sea port. The cutoff was in protest of the violent breakup of a demonstration of Russian speakers in Riga, the Latvian capital, as well as a march later of anti-Russian veterans who fought for the Nazis' Waffen SS. The decreased oil flow will cost Latvia significant transit income.

Latvia's footing on a path toward integration with the West is also at risk, in part because the road is crowded. Latvia's Baltic Sea neighbors, Lithuania and Estonia, also aspire to membership in the European Union and NATO, as do former Soviet satellites in Eastern Europe. The economic and military affairs of these countries are under close scrutiny, and Latvia's citizenship policies raise questions about the country's commitment to human rights.

Angel Vinas, director of the European Commission told a Latvian conference on domestic relations that "these kinds of adjustments have become even more important than the purely economic ones" in attaining EU membership.

Seven years after the collapse of the U.S.S.R., Latvia's quandary is shared by several former Soviet states. About half the population of Estonia, Latvia's Baltic neighbor to the north, and a third of Kazakhstan's in central Asia is ethnically Russian. Several other countries have large populations that identify with Russia, and Russia in turn uneasily hosts thousands of refugees from ethnic wars along its periphery.

The question faced by all is: Who belongs? Stalinist repression and Soviet demographic policies forced the migration of hundreds of thousands of citizens from their native lands and encouraged settlement of Russians into places where they were a minority. In pre-Soviet Latvia, Russians made up about 10 percent of the population. Today, out of a population of 2.5 million, more than 600,000 are Russian. They came to direct and populate factories, and, according to Soviet policy, dilute the Baltic identity of the non-Slavic Latvians.

After independence, Latvia granted automatic citizenship to anyone of any ethnic group who was descended from citizens who lived in Latvia before 1940, the year the Red Army ended 18 years of Latvian independence. However, non-Latvians who settled in the country after 1940 were required to apply for naturalized citizenship.

Latvia offered naturalization in phases according to age groups, required language proficiency and a knowledge of Latvian history. Naturalization requirements were also imposed on children born in Latvia after 1991. Of about 150,000 Russians eligible to take out citizenship, so far only 7,000 have done so.

Integration is slow, almost by mutual consent. The pace suits Latvian politicians who feared that if Russians flocked onto the citizenship rolls, their votes would dilute Latvian political strength, and they might even vote for reintegration with Russia. Russians appeared to see little advantage in going out of their way to apply for citizenship. In Soviet times, everyone was required to learn Russian, but the Russians did not have to learn Latvian, and many still resist. Youths are reluctant to apply because citizenship makes them eligible for the military draft.

The issue seemed stagnant until early March when aging retirees, many of them Russian, held a protest demonstration on a main Riga street. Rough police handling brought howls of protest from Moscow. Then the Waffen SS veterans marched during a war commemoration, then someone threw a firebomb at a synagogue, then a bomb was found in a trash can near the Russian Embassy. Was Latvia an intolerant society? Were the Russians being placed in the role of the outsider, a position once held here by Jews? Or were unseen hands code for Moscow trying to destabilize the country?

"God forbid if Moscow takes an interest in solving our problems," said Antons Seikts, chairman of the parliamentary human rights commission.

Quickly, even nationalist politicians began to consider easing citizenship rules by making all Russians eligible to apply at once and granting automatic citizenship to 20,000 stateless children born after 1991. If passed, these measures would go a long way toward fulfilling standards of the European Union as well as guidelines set by human rights watchdogs from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe. "Even with our other problems, none of this would probably have been considered if the West were not interested. We have an image to maintain," said Inese Birzniece, an American-born member of parliament.

Whether the measures will bridge the ethnic divide is another matter. One reason some Latvians feel confident enough to go ahead is that they expect few Russians to take up the offer of citizenship.

Latvians pride themselves on their reserve, yet Russian complaints easily make them boil over. At the recent conference on integration, speeches were mostly full of goodwill and stressed the need for education and tolerance. At one point, a Russian spectator a resident since 1946 objected to his status as outsider, saying he regarded himself not as a potential immigrant but as a de facto citizen. He made his remarks in Russian, which set off an emotional response from Vilnus Zarins, a philosophy professor at Latvia University.

"It's your problem if you have not learned Latvian since 1946 and do not respect people who have lived here for 4,000 years," he said. "We hear threats from people who say Latvians have taken something away from them. No, citizenship was given back to us."

In Iecava, schools are busily engaged in trying to bridge the gap between Russians and Latvians via language. Schools are required to add hours of Latvian language instruction year by year until half the classes are given in Latvian to Russian children, the rest in Russian. However, ethnic Russian teachers are required to pass rugged Latvian language tests whether they teach in Russian or not.

Agra Zake, the Latvian principal of School No. 37 in Iecava, is desperate to hold on to Natalya Belenova, a talented ethnic Russian teacher who is also vice principal. Belenova is preparing to take the Latvian fluency test. She said she does not "feel comfortable taking the test," but will do so to keep her job. Five other teachers have left rather than comply.

With the language test out of the way, it would be easy for Belenova to become a naturalized citizen. But she is reluctant. "I don't see any particular benefit," she said. "I live here, I contribute. It's not humiliating to have to take a naturalization test, but maybe it's just confusing."

Iecava lies about 30 miles from Riga and in the master planning of Soviet times was made the egg producing capital of the country (nearby Kekava was the chicken capital). The small town center is is surrounded by checkerboards of farmland and forest.

Paved roads radiating out from Iecava quickly give way to clay that becomes slick in the rain. Peaked wooden houses become fewer as the forests thicken and the farmland shrinks.

Chubarov, The Hunter, worked without incident in a factory here for many years. No one had anything bad to say about him except that his hunting forays sometimes sent children and women indoors for fear of getting hit by stray shot.

As with Latvia's broader problems, people here seem to believe that the Chubarov slayings had less to do with ethnic hatred than with Russian reaction to the changes in Latvia since independence.

Over the past few years, Chubarov had begun to grouse about Latvian independence and the effect it was having on his life. "The Hunter was from Siberia and was used to space and wandering freely. But suddenly, land was being taken and the owners forbade him from hunting on their properties. He began to feel limited," said Olga M., a Russian friend of his in Iecava.

When his house burned down, the police said it was faulty wiring, but no one believed them. "It seems the police chose to ignore footprints in the mud outside," said Iecava's mayor, Janis Pelsis.

After shooting his seven Latvian victims, Chubarov fled to the deep woods. Police and dogs chased him, and he was eventually found dead of a self-inflicted gunshot wound, the police said.

"No one can forgive The Hunter, but he had built the house himself, and someone burned it down. It stayed with him like a disease. He felt surrounded and believed life as he knew it was coming to an end. No one can excuse this, but if the truth be known we all feel a little like him," said his Russian friend Olga M.

 

 

 
 
 
 
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