A 16-year-old military cadet killed himself while playing Russian Roulette in front of shoppers during the Christmas holidays.
Yegor Rybka held the gun close to his temple having placed a single round in the pistol before spinning the cylinder, and pulling the trigger.
The teenager was a cadet at the prestigious Suvorov military academy in Tver, 110 miles northwest of Moscow.
He is believed to have died instantly close to people walking in the city centre.
His body was found on a popular Trekhsvyatskaya pedestrian street in Tver’s historic central district.
A pistol, seen as non-lethal, was found 3ft from his body.
He had been with a friend enjoying Russia’s ten-day long New Year holiday period when his prank went wrong.
The friend called police and ambulance but paramedics could not save him.
The shot had been from ‘very close range’.
A criminal case was opened into his death, according to law enforcement sources.
However, it is believed no-one else was involved.
Rybka was described by friends and military academy tutors as a ‘peaceful and calm’ student.
One friend said: ‘I had known him for four years. He was such a positive, decent lad. I had no clue he had a gun, and I wonder where he found it.
‘He never told his friends about it. It must have been the lads having a game… But what a silly, needless tragedy.’
Traditionally, the elite Suvorov boarding academies are attended by the sons of military and secret services personnel, and also orphans.
Graduates invariably go on to careers in the Russian army.