Russia denies diplomat killed robber in Rio Olympic zone

01:48 - Source: CNN
Security concerns ahead of Olympics

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Brazil state-run news agency said Russian diplomat killed robber in Rio

Reported shooting happened in Olympics zone as games set to begin

CNN —  

The Russian Embassy in Brazil denied Friday that one of its diplomats was involved in a fatal shooting of a robber in Rio de Janeiro as the Olympic Games are set to begin.

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Thursday’s reported shooting is just the latest security woe for Rio as it readies for Friday’s opening of the games.

Vladimir Tokmakov, the Russian general consul in Rio, said that no consular staff members were involved in a shootout and that the shooter could have been posing as a diplomat, according to Russian state-run Tass news agency.

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“All Russian diplomats and personnel of Russian foreign institutions located in Rio de Janeiro are safe and sound and are of no relation to the aforesaid incident. The man who was involved in the incident could have presented himself as a general consulate employee,” Tokmakov told Tass.

A Brazilian soldier stands guard outside the Olympic Russian House in Rio's Copacabana Beach.
A Brazilian soldier stands guard outside the Olympic Russian House in Rio's Copacabana Beach.

The shooting took place on Avenida das Americas, the main street in Rio’s Barra da Tijuca neighborhood, where the Olympic Village and the majority of Olympic venues are.

It is the main thoroughfare between the Olympic zone and the rest of the city.

Reports on vice consul

Many worry Rio isn't safe or prepared enough to host the Olympic Games.
Mario Tama/Getty Images
Many worry Rio isn't safe or prepared enough to host the Olympic Games.

Earlier reports from Brazilian state-run news agency Agencia Brasil said that a Russian diplomat struggled with a robber during an attempted mugging before taking the assailant’s gun and shooting him.

Local media reports said the shooter was a Russian vice consul who was in a car with his wife and daughter when a robber approached on a bike.

Unconfirmed reports on social media even said the diplomat had used jiu-jitsu to disarm the robber.

The Russian Embassy said in statement: “At the time of the incident all Consulate officials in Rio de Janeiro were inside the building itself or in rented space for Russian fans of the Olympics in Copacabana called ‘House of the Fans.’ ”

Rio’s civil police refused to comment on the case to CNN, while calls to the military police were not answered.

Security concerns

Violence has marred the lead-up to the games, with many concerned that Rio isn’t safe or prepared enough to host the world’s biggest sports event, set to open at 8 p.m. local time Friday.

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A jiu-jitsu athlete from New Zealand, Jason Lee, fled Rio to Toronto after reporting men in police uniform kidnapped him and threatened him to withdraw cash at two ATMS.

Jiu-jitsu is not an Olympic sport, so Lee wasn’t set to compete in the games, but the former national champion has lived in Rio for almost a year.

Australian athletes complained of property, including laptops, being stolen as they evacuated the athletes’ village in a fire scare.

Brazilian authorities tightened security around the Olympic torch relay after protesters mobbed the event and managed to extinguish the flame.

Brazilian police in late July arrested 12 people suspected of planning terrorist acts during the games.

Authorities said nearly 14,000 security officers had been deployed to the wider state of Rio for the Olympics, about a third more than previously planned.

CNN’s Sebastian Shukla and Radina Gigova and journalist Angela Dewan contributed to this report.