A former pro-Russian member of Ukraine’s parliament has been shot dead near Moscow in an assassination claimed by Kyiv.
Illia Kyva, declared a traitor by Ukraine, was shot dead in a park in the Odintsovo region southwest of Moscow on Wednesday.
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Russian investigators said they have opened an investigation and a hunt for the suspect.
“An unknown person fired shots at the victim from an unidentified weapon. The man died on the spot from his injuries,” Russia’s Investigative Committee said in a statement.
News agencies, including Reuters and AFP, quoted sources saying Kyva was killed by the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU).
Kyva was a member of Ukraine’s parliament before Moscow invaded in February 2022, but had been in Russia throughout the war and frequently criticised Ukrainian authorities online.
He had been sentenced in absentia by a Ukrainian court to 14 years in prison for charges including treason and incitement to violence.
The day before Russia invaded Ukraine in February 2022, Kyva said the country had been “soaked by Nazism” and needed “liberating” by Russia – echoing talking points regularly advanced by Russian officials and on state TV.
Speaking on national TV, Ukraine’s military intelligence spokesperson Andriy Yusov said: “We can confirm that Kyva is done. Such a fate will befall other traitors of Ukraine, as well as the henchmen of the [Russian President Vladimir] Putin regime.”
Yusov did not say who was behind the assassination.
In a separate incident, a proxy lawmaker in Ukraine’s eastern Luhansk region was also killed in a car bombing attack on Wednesday, Russian investigators said.
Oleg Popov, who served as a deputy in the pro-Moscow Luhansk regional parliament, was killed after the “detonation of an unidentified device in a car”, Russia’s Investigative Committee said, without providing more details.
Spate of assassinations
Kyiv used to rarely comment on whether it was behind the killings of pro-Russian figures, both inside Russia and in parts of Ukraine occupied by Russian forces.
But lately, it has started to claim responsibility for a number of attacks and openly threatened to hunt down other “collaborators” and “traitors”.
Moscow has previously said Ukraine was behind other audacious assassinations deep inside Russia’s borders.
In August 2022, Russian nationalist Darya Dugina was killed outside Moscow in a car bombing, while an explosion at a Saint Petersburg cafe in April killed Russian military blogger Vladlen Tatarsky.
Ukraine has not publicly claimed responsibility for those attacks, though US intelligence and media reports have linked Kyiv to them.
Several lower-ranking Ukrainian officials and politicians who have welcomed Russia’s invasion and worked for Russian-backed authorities in occupied parts of Ukraine have also been killed.