Kirill Stremousov, the Moscow-installed deputy head of Ukraine’s Kherson region, has died in a car crash, according to Russian state media.
The TASS news agency said the death on Wednesday had been confirmed by the press service for the head of the region, without giving details of the circumstances.
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“It’s true,” TASS quoted the press service as saying.
In a post on the Telegram messaging app, Sergei Aksyonov, head of the Russia-annexed Crimea Peninsula, called Stremousov a “true fighter” and a “Russian patriot”. Aksyonov did not specify the cause of the death.
A Ukrainian and Russian national, Stremousov was one of the most prominent public faces of Russia’s occupation of Ukraine’s territory. He was regularly using social media to promote war propaganda, including video updates while being inside vehicles moving at speed.
In his latest Telegram update on Wednesday morning, Stremousov said the Ukrainian offensive in the region had unsuccessfully tried to break through the Russian forces’ defence line.
“The situation is under the full control of the Russian military,” he said.
Ukrainian legislator Oleksiy Goncharenko called Stremousov a “traitor”.
“He actively opposed the surrender of Kherson and said that Russia is here forever. And then he mysteriously dies,” he said on Twitter.
Kherson collaborator Kirill Stremousov died in an accident. This is a traitor who went over to the side of Russia. He actively opposed the surrender of Kherson and said that Russia is here forever. And then he mysteriously dies. pic.twitter.com/iMEPM6l5cK
— Oleksiy Goncharenko (@GoncharenkoUa) November 9, 2022
Lately, Stremousov had been urging civilians to evacuate the western bank of the Dnieper River in the face of a mounting Ukrainian counteroffensive to take the southern region, which Russia claimed to have annexed.
Ukrainian officials have been wary of such statements as well as blatant signs of a Russian defeat in Kherson, including photos circulated on social media of key buildings no longer flying Russian flags, saying they could be a trap.
The regional capital city, also called Kherson, which sits just northwest of Crimea, was occupied during the first week of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in late February. Since then, it has seen regular civilian protests that were put down by Russian troops.
In July, another official of the Russia-installed Kherson military-civilian administration, Dmitry Savluchenko, was killed in a bomb blast.