Russia opens investigation into factory explosion

August 9, 2023

Russia’s Investigative Committee has opened a criminal probe into an explosion at a factory northeast of Moscow that injured at least 45 people.

According to Russian news agency TASS, the explosion occurred at Zagorsk Optical and Mechanical Plant. The factory reportedly makes scopes and night vision devices for the Russian military.

Though the cause has not been confirmed, Russian authorities denied the blast was the result of an alleged Ukrainian drone attack. 

According TASS, Russian emergency services have surmised that the explosion took place in a warehouse containing pyrotechnic equipment. However, some Ukrainian officials have questioned that assertion based on the nature of the explosion. 

“[I]f we look at videos of pyrotechnics exploding, we’ll see that the explosion on the plant doesn’t look like pyrotechnics,” Anton Gerashchenko, advisor to Ukraine’s Interior Minister, asserted on social media. “We see a mushroom cloud from a single explosion, and the pyrotechnics would have exploded in different directions.”

Gerashchenko further claimed that the owner of the pyrofirm “allegedly claims that the explosion occurred in a neighboring workshop, not in the warehouse where he stored his pyrotechnics.”

The governor of the Moscow region, Andrei Vorobyov, denies that claim, insisting, “One thing is clear, that the explosion was powerful, and it was in the pyrotechnics workshop.”

Russian officials have on multiple occasions dismissed credible reports of attacks damaging military or other targets inside Russia since the invasion of Ukraine in February 2022. At that same time, Ukrainian officials have  generally avoided publicly confirming any role in suspected drone or other attacks inside Russia.

Kyiv has so far not claimed responsibility for the explosion at the facility, which one Russian blogger said “shook the city.” At least six of the injured were in intensive care Wednesday.

PHOTO: Russian Zagorsk Optical and Mechanical Plant explosion

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