A criminal investigation has been opened into the group of young Russian men who filmed themselves crushing a poor bear to death with heavy trucks, authorities announced on Wednesday.
A video posted to Youtube on Monday showed the men in two heavy trucks shouting “Crush him! Crush him!” as they repeatedly drove over the bear. It was widely circulated on social media, causing a public outcry, and has since been removed from Youtube.
“There should be real jail time for this sort of crime!” Sergei Donskoi, Russia’s minister for natural resources and the environment, wrote on social media.”We’ll make sure these villains get the most serious punishment.”
Russia is weird. The once-great country is the butt of many Internet jokes, often because its impoverished citizens find entertainment in dangerous activities, such as drinking poisonous methanol, drug abuse of “Krokodil,” and in some cases, depraved animal cruelty.
In 2015, a video that showed a construction worker feeding a live firecracker to a polar bear sparked outrage online, and Russian authorities described the act as “cold-blooded murder.”
And now a similarly horrific video shows young Russian men crushing a bear to death with large industrial off-road trucks, the kind used in oil and mining.
The video went viral this week when the men, identified as oil workers in the Siberian Arctic, drove over a live adult bear multiple times in a disgusting killing. The graphic video shows a man driving over the helpless animal as another man gleefully chants “Crush him! Crush him! Do it!”
(Heat Street is not embedding the video as it’s far too disturbing)
The bear tries to get up repeatedly before the video cuts out. After running over the bear multiple times, another worker prodded the injured animal’s head with a metal bear. “It’s still alive,” he says. The bear eventually died.
Russian police in Yakutia are now investigating the video and say that those involved in the cruel act will be sentenced to two years in prison, if found guilty. They are looking for the perpetrators.
“We will strive for the most serious punishment for these scoundrels,” wrote Sergei Donskoi, the minister for natural resources and environment on Facebook per Agence France-Presse. “Such crimes should be followed by real prison terms!”
In televised remarks, a spokeswoman for the Russian interior ministry said that the authorities have established that the video shows residents local to the Yakutia region.
Even as the video sparked outrage across Russia, some have defended their actions in killing the bear. Brown bears who don’t get fat enough to hibernate for the cold Siberian winter often develop aggressive tendencies as they wander the barren tundra, and pose a danger to people. However, the bear in the video does not appear to exhibit any signs of aggression.
The encroachment of human settlements and industrial operations on the Siberian Arctic has severely impacted the local wildlife in recent years. It’s only expected to get worse.