Leader of self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic killed in E. Ukraine blast
“The head of the DPR, Aleksandr Zakharchenko, has died as a result of a terrorist act,” a spokesperson of the self-proclaimed republic’s administration told journalists, revealing no details of the incident.
“An improvised explosive device was planted inside the café … right near the entrance,” Aleksandr Kazakov, an advisor to the DPR leader, told RT, adding that the killers apparently knew that Zakharchenko would arrive at the café and were “waiting” for him. A state of emergency has been imposed, Kazakov said, adding that borders with both Ukraine and Russia were sealed as the security services are “actively searching for the potential perpetrators.”
One of Zakharchenko’s deputies also sustained severe injuries in the blast while several bodyguards died in the incident, Kazakov said. He added that Zakharchenko died at the scene as well, contrary to the earlier reports suggesting he was injured and succumbed to his wounds in a hospital.
The DPR security services detained the alleged perpetrators behind Zakharchenko’s murder later on Friday, a DPR spokesman confirmed, adding that their identities have been established. According to media reports, those detained were identified as “Ukrainian operatives and some of their accomplices.”
Dmitry Trapeznikov, one of Zakharchenko’s deputies, has been appointed as the DPR’s acting leader, the head of the local legislature, Denis Pushilin, told reporters.
Moscow condemned 42-year-old Zakharchenko’s murder, adding that it could be detrimental to the whole peace process in Ukraine. The death of the DPR leader could have a particularly negative impact on the implementation of the Minsk Agreements, Konstantin Kosachev, the head of the Russian Senate’s International Affairs Committee, said.
Russian President Vladimir Putin expressed his “deep condolences” to the relatives and the loved ones of the DPR head, the Kremlin said in a statement. Putin called Zakharchenko “a real people’s leader,” and “a brave man.” He also said that this incident shows that “those, who chose the path of terror, violence and intimidation, do not want to seek a peaceful…solution…and engage in a real dialog with the people living in south-eastern [Ukraine].”
There is “every reason to believe” that Zakharchenko’s murder was orchestrated by Kiev, which “has repeatedly resorted to such methods to get rid of dissidents and undesirables,” Maria Zakharova, spokeswoman for the Russian Foreign Ministry, said.
“Instead of abiding by the Minsk Agreements and seeking ways to resolve the internal [Ukrainian] conflict, the Kiev warmongers opted for a terrorist scenario, thus exacerbating an already tense situation in the region,” she added. The Ukrainian security service, the SBU, has denied involvement in the killing of the DPR head.
Zakharchenko headed the self-proclaimed republic since November 2014 when a crisis broke out in Ukraine following a coup d’état that ousted Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych. The Eastern Ukrainian provinces of Donetsk and Lugansk engaged in open conflict with Kiev since they refused to accept the new government, following the 2014 coup, and established the self-proclaimed republics. He previously survived several assassination attempts.
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