MOSCOW — Last week in the Siberian city of Novosibirsk, a former soldier married to a glamorous member of the Kremlin’s United Russia party reportedly blew both of them up with a grenade after they had sex in the back seat of her car.
A crime of passion? PTSD? Politics? Or all three?
Nikita Tislenko, allegedly a special services veteran of the war in eastern Ukraine, and 30-year-old Oksana Bobrovkskaya, a member of the regional legislature, were found half-naked in Bobrovskaya’s shattered Toyota RAV4, parked outside her office on Tatyana Snezhnaya Avenue.
The car was a present given to Bobrovskaya by her friends from United Russia and the Novosibirsk city council. Apparently, her husband disapproved of such expensive gifts to his wife, as well as of Bobrovskaya’s high-flying local career and her high-profile connections.
In an interview with The Daily Beast, one of Bobrovskaya’s political promoters in United Russia, Victor Kozodoi, said that the young “glamorous socialite” had never shared details of her family life. As for the husband: “I have only seen him once or twice.”
Kozodoi, a former deputy governor and also a current member of the Novosibirsk legislative council, was the one who discovered Bobrovskaya’s talent for public relations. Five years ago Kozodoi hired Bobrovskaya, 25 at the time, to lead his own election campaign. Her abilities helped win the deputy his seat. “Since then she had developed into a proud, experienced and impressive lady,” Kozodoi told The Daily Beast.
What happened to his protégé was “a shocking tragedy” for all her friends and colleagues in United Russia, said Kozodoi. The deputy blamed the current realities of Russian life for Bobrovskaya’s murder.
“Her husband graduated from a military college. He must have been a special character, if he was eager to have a career in the army,” said Kozodoi, “but things did not work for him.”
“Compared to Oksana’s quick career growth, her husband’s own ambitions looked as if they’d failed,” said the deputy. “The problem is that there is no service, no psychological rehabilitation for military officers, who fail in their career life.”
The problem is also that according to current statistics 12,000 to 14,000 Russian women are killed by their husbands or other relatives every year, about one woman an hour.
Bobrovskaya described some of her personal life pains on the Internet forum for young mothers, baby.ru.
Three years ago Bobrovskaya, already a successful businesswoman and member of United Russia, admitted in a post: “We quarreled 5 days ago, he has slept separately for 5 nights. He does not want to talk. He says just a few phrases: ‘We are strangers, you have achieved everything you wanted…’”
Young mothers, members of the forum, suggested that Bobrovskaya find a good shrink for her husband. But the wife knew her spouse too well: “He would never seek psychological help,” she wrote. At the time Bobrovskaya had a 1-year-old baby girl.
On Tuesday, one of the baby.ru forum’s participants nicknamed Olechka wrote about the murdered deputy: “She always complained on baby.ru that her husband was harassing her with jealousy. It must have been his hand grenade, as he had gone to Donbass war twice,” Olechka said, referring to the conflict in eastern Ukraine where Russian soldiers are supposed to serve only as volunteers in the separatist militias.
A deputy of the Russian Duma, or parliament, living in exile, noted the irony of this apparent murder-suicide. Ilya Ponomarev told The Daily Beast that the drama of a Kremlin party deputy killed by a former member of a pro-Kremlin militia who had been recruited for Donbass reminded him of “a boomerang.”
Bobrovskaya worked as a senior manager for the Diskus construction company, helping Novosibirsk construction magnate Aleksei Djulai, who is also a United Russia deputy in the regional council. According to Ponomarev, Djulai was the focus of the husband’s jealousy and anger.
Bobrovskaya’s high-flying career did not surprise anybody in Novosibirsk, certainly. Russia has a long tradition of bosses promoting their secretaries, their lovers.
Bobrovskaya, a young, slim, vivacious brunette, was elected for the Novosibirsk legislative council only this year. “She was brought to the legislative council by her boss, also a state deputy,” says Artem Loskutov, a politician from Parnas opposition party in Novosibirsk. In Russian terms, “there was nothing unnatural about her victory,” he said. Unlike Bobrovskaya, Loskutov did not have any pro-Putin connections. Earlier this year, authorities did not allow his participation in September elections.
There is widespread speculation that post-traumatic stress disorder could be one of the reasons Bobrovskaya husband pulled the pin.
“This could be a consequence of the Donbass syndrome,” Duma Deputy Dmitry Gudkov suggested in an interview. “As in the past—it was the case with Afghanistan and Chechen veterans—militia, the veterans of Ukraine conflict, who have seen death and violence, come back to their lives with broken nerves, becoming a threat for public security.”
Not to mention their wives and their families.