Russia appears to be facing an upsurge in sabotage of facilities with military links amid the war in Ukraine.
A video shows how a Russian military enlistment office was hit by multiple Molotov cocktails as speculation intensifies that Vladimir Putin is to introduce mass army mobilisation.
And a series of fires – one of which officially killed 22 at a defence ministry missile design research institute, and another with three deaths at an explosives plant – are also seen as possible arson with Russian officials covering up or minimising some of the attacks.
A chemical plant in Dzerzhinsk, pictured, was destroyed by fire. The cause of the fire has not yet been established
It is reported the Dzerzhinsk facility was once used to manufacture chemical weapons
The chemical plant explosion was one of several major fires to have rocked Russia
Human rights group gulagu.net viewed this week’s attack on the military enlistment office in Nizhnevartovsk as an ‘anti-war protest’.
Pro-government sources said that two Molotov cocktails were thrown and a third failed to catch fire.
‘But the video shows how a man methodically sets fire to seven Molotov cocktails one after another, throws them and sets fire to the entrance of the military enlistment office,’ said the group.
‘And this is even before the announcement of partial or full mobilisation.
‘People are against the war – no-one needs the slaughter, killings and self-isolation of Russia.
‘The protest is radicalising. No to war.’
The bomb-thrower and an accomplice are clearly seen in the video running from the scene in the oil boom city in western Siberia.
In a gigantic fire on Monday three women died at explosives manufacturer Perm Gunpowder Plant, which supplies the army.
The plant makes Grad and Smerch multiple launch rocket systems, used by Russian forces in Ukraine, and air defence systems as well as tank rounds.
It supplies gunpowder for small arms.
An eyewitness told Komsomolskaya Pravda newspaper: ‘The building just flew into the air.’
Firefighters battled to douse the flames across the Dzerzhinsk facility
A facility at the plant ‘just doesn’t exist anymore’.
One woman called Svetlana ‘couldn’t even run out, but the other girls fled – they were all burned.
‘Olga had 100 per cent body burns. She was not even taken to the hospital.
‘But Ulyana was alive, she had 99 per cent burns, and her son in the second grade is waiting for her at home.
‘I don’t know how to go to work any more. I cried all night..’
The dead explosives workers were named as Svetlana Bardakova, 59, Olga Savishchenko, 43, and Ulyana Frants, 36.
On Wednesday, a railway tanker containing unspecified solvents caught fire on the territory of huge factory Kaprolaktam, in Dzerzhinsk, which once made chemical weapons.
A fire train was deployed to fight the raging inferno.
There remains suspicion over the cause of a fire which killed 20 with three still missing two weeks ago at a top secret missile-designing defence plant in Tver.
It killed some of the country’s top missile designers and destroyed their work.
Some military scientists jumped for their lives from windows at the burning plant which develops new space and weapons systems.
Russia initially said one had died but later admitted the death toll was 22, with one unaccounted for in the gutted complex.
Earlier a Russian journalist was gagged after alleging the authorities were lying on the true toll.
Three women have been killed following an explosion at the Perm gunpowder plant
Blame has been put on faulty wiring but a criminal case is underway into a fire which razed the Second Central Research Institute of the Ministry of Defence causing untold damage to Russian weapons research.
Suspicions have been voiced that the fire was sabotage.
The institute is central to the design of Iskander missiles, which have been unleashed in the war in Ukraine, as well as Russia’s S-400 missile defence system.
It is involved in other ‘secret projects’.
In Nizhnevartovsk fire damaged the enlistment office but caused no casualties, according to reports.
Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov denied Russia planned to announce a general mobilisation or declare all-out war.
British defence secretary Ben Wallace had said such moves could come on 9 May, when Russia marks its annual Victory Day with a vast military display on Red Square.
This commemorates the end of the Second World War in which tens of millions of Soviet citizens perished.
‘It’s not true, it’s nonsense,’ said Peskov concerning the speculation over mobilisation and a full declaration of war against Ukraine.
Yet Putin is seen as needing reinforcements for his war effort in Donbas.
It is also clear that conscripts have been sent to the war, despite promises not to – for example on the sunken Moskva cruiser.
And Russian officials denied there would be an invasion of Ukraine in the days and weeks before Putin sent in his troops.