Car bomb kills Russia-backed politician in east Ukraine

Mikhail Filiponenko had been engaged in Luhansk’s pro-Russian separatist movement since 2014.

A picture shows smoke during fighting in Luhansk region, eastern Ukraine, on June 24, 2022. (Photo by Anatolii Stepanov / AFP)
Smoke rises during fighting in Luhansk, eastern Ukraine [Anatolii Stepanov/AFP]

Ukraine said it carried out a special operation to kill a Russia-backed politician who died as a car bomb exploded in eastern Ukraine.

The assassination is the latest in a series of attacks against separatists and Moscow-installed officials in the Ukrainian regions to which the Kremlin lays claim.

Mikhail Filiponenko, a deputy in the Russia-backed parliament in occupied Luhansk, was killed on Wednesday after an “explosive device detonated” in his car, his son told the Luhansk Information Centre news agency.

Filiponenko, who had been engaged in Luhansk’s pro-Russian separatist movement since 2014, previously acted as one of the top commanders in the army of the so-called Luhansk People’s Republic.

In September, he was voted into the regional assembly in a poll that sparked broad international condemnation.

Ukraine’s military intelligence agency said it conducted the operation with resistance forces in Luhansk.

“A special operation to eliminate Filiponenko was implemented jointly with representatives of the resistance movement. As a result of the morning explosion, Filiponenko died on the spot,” it said on the messaging app Telegram.

Luhansk is one of four Ukrainian regions Russia said it annexed last year, despite not exerting full military control in the areas.

Russian media shared photos of what they said was Filiponenko’s battered vehicle on the side of the road, with traces of blood on the seats.

Several high-profile backers of Russia’s assault on Ukraine and Moscow-installed officials in territory seized by Russian forces have been attacked since the conflict started last February.

Last month Oleg Tsaryov, a pro-Kremlin politician that Moscow was reportedly prepping to head a pro-Russian government in Kyiv, survived being shot in his hotel complex on the annexed peninsula of Crimea.

Moscow has accused Ukrainian secret services of carrying out that and several other attacks, including the car bombing of nationalist Darya Dugina outside Moscow last year and the bombing of military blogger Vladlen Tatarsky in a Saint Petersburg cafe in April.

Kyiv has given no immediate comment after Wednesday’s bombing.

Russia and Ukraine have been locked in a bloody 20-month war since Moscow sent troops to invade the neighbouring country in February 2022. There have since been hundreds of thousands of casualties on each side.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies