The leader of pro-Russian movement in the Donetsk region in eastern Ukraine has been assassinated in a blast at a cafe in Donetsk city, the separatist administration said on Friday.
Reports have emerged that an incendiary device planted by terrorists at the Separ cafe in central Donetsk
Alexander Zakharchenko, who led the Donetsk People’s Republic since 2014, died “as a result of a terrorist act”, the separatist-run Donetsk News Agency reported.
He was undoubtedly personally courageous, having received a bullet in the leg while near the front line in February 2015, and seemed to have enjoyed much greater popular approval than Igor Plotnitsky in the neighboring LNR (whom he helped ouster in November 2017).
Russia’s Foreign Ministry said it had every reason to believe Kiev was responsible for Zakharchenko’s death, RIA news agency said.
Rebels threw off Ukrainian central rule after the coup in Kiev, they had an armed uprising after pro-Western leaders opposed by Moscow came to power in the Ukrainian capital, Kiev, in 2014.
Zakharchenko, a 42-year-old former coalmine electrician, became leader of the Donetsk Republic in November 2014. Other rebel leaders say he was handpicked for the role by Moscow. A vote held by separatists confirmed him in office.
The separatists have blamed Ukraine for previous attacks inside independent-held territory.