Support The Moscow Times!

St. Petersburg Man Sets Himself on Fire Holding ‘Happy Birthday, Mr. President’ Sign

An elderly man wearing a “Happy Birthday Mr. President” sign set himself on fire on a crowded street in central St. Petersburg on President Vladimir Putin’s 68th birthday Wednesday, media reported.

The unnamed 71-year-old businessman was hospitalized in serious condition after his self-immolation witnessed by dozens of passersby outside a shopping mall. The outlet said the victim suffered first- and second-degree burns to 45% of his body surface.

Eyewitnesses described hearing him scream out “something about President Putin’s birthday and a gift” before committing the act, the Megapolis news website reported

Videos later showed a half-burnt sign reading “...Birthday Mr. President” next to the man writhing in pain surrounded by police and passersby.

According to the news site, the victim has operated a commercial real estate firm located near the site of his self-immolation for nearly 20 years. 

Police said the burn victim had been under observation at a psychiatric institution, according to St. Petersburg’s Business News Agency. 

This is the second self-immolation act to take place in Russia within a week. On Friday, independent journalist Irina Slavina died after setting herself on fire in front of the Nizhny Novgorod police headquarters. 

Her final social media post told followers to “blame the Russian Federation” for her death, which occurred the day after police raided her home for evidence of her role within the opposition.

… we have a small favor to ask.

As you may have heard, The Moscow Times, an independent news source for over 30 years, has been unjustly branded as a "foreign agent" by the Russian government. This blatant attempt to silence our voice is a direct assault on the integrity of journalism and the values we hold dear.

We, the journalists of The Moscow Times, refuse to be silenced. Our commitment to providing accurate and unbiased reporting on Russia remains unshaken. But we need your help to continue our critical mission.

Your support, no matter how small, makes a world of difference. If you can, please support us monthly starting from just 2. It's quick to set up, and you can be confident that you're making a significant impact every month by supporting open, independent journalism. Thank you.


Read more