The Krasnodar bus bombing occurred in 1971, when a homemade suitcase bomb planted near the gas tank of a bus in Krasnodar, Russia, exploded, killing 10 people and injuring up to 90 others.
The bomb was found to have been planted by Peter Volynsky, a former doctor, who held the belief that taller people felt superiority over shorter people.
On June 14th 1971, Peter Volynsky boarded a bus with a suitcase bomb and placed the explosive near the gas tank.
The suitcase bomb contained metal balls, nails, and bearings, which caused the gas tank of the bus to catch fire. Five people died at the scene and five more passed away in hospital.
The KGB located Volynsky after the bombing along with gas cylinders, bearings and enough gunpowder to destroy a five-storey house.
When asked during interrogation what drove him to carry out the bombing, Volynsky merely responded, “I hate people.”
Who was Peter Volynsky?
Pyotr Volynsky was born on November 25, 1939 in Krasnodar. According to reports, he was an orphan who was raised by various relatives and was then enrolled at a Suvorov Military School after the Second World War, a form of military boarding school in the Soviet Union.
After leaving school, Volynsky attended the Kuban Medical Institute to pursue a career as a doctor.
According to various sources, Volynsky was between 5’4″ and 5’5″ (162-164 cm) tall and it was during these student years that he began to develop a dislike for people taller than him. He believed that taller students felt superior to him and he tried to avoid them wherever possible.
But this was not the only eccentricity that his fellow students began to notice in Volynsky’s behaviour.
It was reported that in his rented apartment, he would hang aluminium plates and lids from kitchen pots connected with a rope outside the window. Despite being asked to remove them, Volynsky refused, believing it would scare away thieves who were going to climb through his fifth-floor window.
Volynsky often came to classes with a suitcase that contained an alarm clock. The alarm would often sound during lectures, disrupting the class for the teachers.
He would also send anonymous complaints to authorities, accusing various people of being “bribe-takers, bigamists and wreckers of Soviet power”. Volynsky wrote about 80 letters, full of quotations from Marx and Lenin, including accusing the deputy of the Krasnodar Council of “moral decay.”
After graduating in 1968, Volynsky took a job in the Bryukhovets regional hospital but was fired shortly after. He then began working at Novoderevyankovsky district hospital.
It wasn’t long after taking this job that hospital management received complaints from Volynsky’s patients who had suggested that he was treating them by burning their fingers with an alcohol lamp. After an investigation, he was taken for psychiatric examination.
The examination, carried out by Professor Nikolai Khromov, showed that Volynksy appeared to suffer from schizophrenia. Upon hearing this news, Volynksy tried to escape from the building and ran down the hallway. He didn’t get far before being restrained and searched, where he was found to be carrying a large kitchen knife. He never explained why he had the knife with him.
According to some reports, Volynsky was fired from his job at the hospital and placed in a mental hospital after his diagnosis. After eight months of treatment, he became a labourer at a construction site in Krasnodar.
Peter Volynsky’s dislike of tall people
During this time, Volynsky’s dislike for tall people continued to grow. He began to blame them for things that happened to him and started to believe that you could only succeed in life if you were tall. He considered short people to be more gifted and capable of changing the world for the better, but thought they were never given the same opportunities.
People like me are unique people. These long creatures must die in terrible agony so that it becomes easier for us to live. They’ll learn that they can’t joke with us. We will kill again and again
From the diary of Peter Volynsky
Peter Volynsky idolised French Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte, a man who is popularly depicted as being of small stature. Volynsky even kept a portrait of Napoleon in his apartment, alongside a photo of himself with the words “I can do everything”.
The League of Short People
It was discovered that in 1967, Volynsky had attempted to found an organisation called “The League of Short People” which sought to “save short people from sterilisation and extermination in the USSR and other countries of the world.”.
The plans for the League included taking a census of the undersized population, who would then be allocated territory with the Soviet Union, evicting all tall people from the area.
In 1971, in an effort to launch The League of Short People, Volynsky looked for people to join his group.
I walked the streets, approached unfamiliar men and asked them: “How old are you, where do you live, are you afraid to engage in hand-to-hand combat with tall thoroughbred men, do you know that tall men will impregnate your wife?”
From the diary of Peter Volynsky
Reaction to Volynsky’s approach wasn’t entirely positive. He mentions that he was attacked, ignored and frightened people with his aggressive attitude.
The people who initially liked the idea were then driven off by the plans to use violence as a means to establish the organisation.
This failure to start The League of Short People did not deter Volynsky or put him off. If anything, it made him more determined to do something radical.
Peter Volynsky started to believe that tall people were following him around Krasnodar and he began to spend more and more time alone in his apartment because of this.
Posters hung on the wiring: “Do not fit in – it will kill you!” On the balcony too – “Don’t get in – it will kill you!” The doors, if he came, secretly opened, constantly looking around, so that no one was anywhere. He did not let anyone in, did not communicate with anyone
From the memoirs of a neighbor of Peter Volynsky
Whilst working at the construction site, Volynsky publicly admitted to planning a series of terrorist attacks, including blowing up government offices. But his colleagues didn’t believe him and ignored his threats.
Volynsky went a step further and acquired books on how to make bombs. He then went on to purchase all the required elements to construct these explosive devices.
The only thing that eluded him at first was gunpowder, which at the time in the Soviet Union could only be bought with a hunter’s license.
In the shop, Volynsky became friendly with other hunters and claimed that he had “forgotten” to bring his license. The new friends then purchased the gunpowder for him.
Peter Volynsky had already decided on his first victim. Professor Khromov, the man who had initially diagnosed him with schizophrenia. Volynsky also blamed Khromov for his forced sterilisation which allegedly took place during his eight months in hospital.
Volynsky attached his first bomb to the door handle of Professor Khromov’s apartment but a vigilant neighbour alerted the police and it was defused before it could cause any damage. The police decided against investigating the case, even though Khromov immediately suspected that Peter Volynsky was to blame.
One of the policemen who attended the scene of the incident took parts of the device and threw it into the Kuban River. Years later, he and other employees of the Ministry of Internal Affairs were punished for their negligence of not fully looking into the case.
Meanwhile, the frustrated Volynsky planned his next move. He wanted to attack a crowded place. After creating an even larger bomb; this time housed in the shell of a fire extinguisher placed in a large black suitcase, Volynsky decided to target the hall of the Aurora cinema at a time when many officials were due to gather.
When Volynsky arrived at the cinema, it was already full to capacity and security refused to let him enter. After remonstrating with the guards, police arrived at the scene and despite severely reprimanding him, Volynsky was let go, still clutching his suitcase.
The Krasnodar bus bombing
With his suitcase in hand and cap pulled down over his eyes, Peter Volynsky boarded the No 1 “Gerzen Street” LAZ-695 bus at around 8:20 a.m. on Monday June 14th. The bus was full of around 100 residents of Krasnodar during the morning rush hour.
Volynsky struggled to get on the bus at the back door and waited for it to start moving before placing his suitcase on the floor. After claiming to be ill, Volynsky screamed and pleaded with the driver to let him off of the bus.
Driver Anatoly Pobery stopped the bus and Volynsky exited the same way he entered. But he left without his suitcase.
The bus turned into Turgenev Street at about 8:30 a.m. and it was there that the bomb exploded.
The bus was reportedly thrown into the air, nearby trees were uprooted and windows of houses were shattered. Flames engulfed the vehicle instantly.
As the explosion took place at the back of the bus, the driver Pobery only suffered burns on one of his hands and managed to escape by opening the jammed doors. Many other passengers managed to escape this way and Pobery also smashed the windows of the bus to help more get out.
“The picture was terrible – the bus stood in the middle of the street and smoked, there were traces of blood and fragments of human bodies on the fences, the smell of burning flesh was in the air. It was scary”.
Richard Balyasinsky, 1971 – Deputy Head of the External Service of the Internal Affairs Directorate of the Krasnodar Territory Executive Committee.
Before ambulances could arrive, people from nearby homes rushed to the burning bus while carrying carpets and blankets to cover the injured passengers.
When the trolleybus power line collapsed onto the roof of the bus as a direct result of the explosion, several people suffered severe electrical burns.
Five people died at the scene while another five subsequently died in the hospital. Several dozen others were injured.
Investigating the bombing
A task force was set up under the control of the local KGB department to investigate. At first, it was questioned whether it was some sort of technical malfunction that caused the explosion but that was quickly dismissed. Fragments of a clock mechanism and metal elements found within the shell of a fire extinguisher showed that this was a deliberate attack.
But who could have done this? Recently dismissed employees of the bus company were suspected, alongside quarry workers who had access to explosives.
One of the victims of the explosion was Nikolai Stepin, the head of the investigative department of the regional prosecutor’s office. He had made many enemies within the organised crime world. Could it have been an attack solely aimed at him?
When surviving bus passengers were questioned, many remembered the mysterious man who had jumped out of the bus moments before the explosion. And they all described him in the same way. He was not tall.
Finding Peter Volynsky
In trying to establish the identity of the culprit, detectives compiled a list of all Krasnodar residents that lived nearby and made sketches of the suspect taken from the testimony of the survivors.
When coupled with research into previous cases related to explosives and bombs in Krasnodar, the attempted attack on Professor Khromov’s door was looked into further. The name of Peter Volynsky immediately came up as a suspect.
But initially, detectives thought that Volynsky must have had accomplices, so did not immediately arrest him. He was placed under surveillance and when he left his apartment, investigators entered his property to conduct a search.
They found the books on explosives, parts of explosive devices, bearings and gunpowder. They also found diaries in which Volynsky had written down exactly how he made the bomb along with how much everything had cost.
Peter Volynsky was then followed to Krasnodar-1 railway station where he was seen to be carrying another black suitcase. Fearing another terrorist attack, police swooped in to arrest him. Upon further inspection, this suitcase didn’t contain explosives, only Volynsky’s personal belongings.
After his arrest, Peter Volynsky was asked what drove him to conduct the bombing. Volynsky responded, “I hate people.”
What happened to Peter Volynsky?
Because he had been diagnosed with schizophrenia, Peter Volynsky was not faced with the death penalty. At court hearings held in his absence, it is reported that Volynsky was assigned for treatment in a psychiatric hospital in the Smolensk region.
It was thought for many years that Volynsky went missing from his ward but in the early 2000s, journalist Eduard Safronov found that Volynsky had been transferred to a solitary ward in a hospital in the Abinsky district of Krasnodar.
The head doctor of the hospital, Vadim Zakharov, told Safronov that Volynsky had been kept in this hospital for many years and he still held the belief “that the whole world is divided into “bad big ones” and “good little ones”. A Napoleon complex. Moreover, the former oppress the latter, so they must be fought with all forces and means”.
In February 2015, journalists managed to obtain confirmation that Volynsky was still being held in this hospital.
Reports from Russia stated that Peter Volynsky died in the solitary psychiatric ward in 2019.