Donetsk People’s Republic blames Kiev for plotting assassination attempt

The leader of the Donetsk People's Republic Alexander Zakharchenko © Igor Maslov
A bid to assassinate the head of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic, Aleksandr Zakharchenko, allegedly plotted by Kiev has been foiled by the DPR’s security forces.

On Friday, Zakharchenko’s press service confirmed the reports of an assassination attempt, promising to reveal further details later.

A source in DPR’s State Security Ministry said its “operatives… on Thursday detained a group of Ukrainian citizens, who had arrived from territories controlled by Kiev.”

"The individuals had in their possession a powerful explosive disguised as an interior design item," the source said.

The would-be assassins had previously studied Zakharchenko’s daily routes to locate the best spot for the attack, according to the source.
The attempt on the DPR prime minister’s life had been planned to be carried out at a small arms training center in Donetsk, he added.

Zakharchenko said the assassination attempt on him was prepared by the Ukrainian Security Service.

“They [the assailants] were Ukraine security operatives,” he said, as cited by the Donetsk news agency.

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All suspects have been arrested and are currently being interrogated, the source said. 
Zakharchenko was one of the top military commanders in the self-defense forces in Ukraine’s Donbass region, formed after Kiev sent troops to the area in April 2014 to curb the belligerent mood over a coup in the capital. 

Zakharchenko was appointed prime minister in August 2014 after his predecessor, Aleksandr Boroday, resigned. He went on to win the November, 2014 election for the post. 

Over 9,300 people have been killed since the start of the conflict in Ukraine’s Donetsk and Lugansk regions, Taye-Brook Zerihoun, UN Assistant Secretary-General for Political Affairs, said on Friday.

Zerihoun also expressed concerns over the increased numbers of ceasefire violations in Donbass, saying that escalation in recent weeks had reached the levels of August 2014 when it was at its peak. 

Four people, including a pregnant woman, were killed and six others wounded in a shelling on a checkpoint in the village of Yelenovka near Donetsk on Wednesday.

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DPR said the Ukrainian forces were responsible for the attack, but Kiev called the incident a planned provocation by the DPR.

Russia’s UN envoy, Vitaly Churkin, said OSCE monitors have recently been registering around 4,000 ceasefire violations a day, with the Ukrainian side responsible for a large part of them.

“Ukrainian forces are again using heavy weaponry against Donbass,” resulting in the “destruction of residential areas and human casualties,” he said on Friday.

Churkin urged to beef up monitoring of the Ukrainian military’s activities not only on the contact line, but also in the rear.

He also called on Kiev’s forces to abandon the cities and villages in the neutral area, which they have recently occupied in violation of the ceasefire.