REVIEW - DPR Leader Zakharchenko Assassinated, Donetsk Claims Kiev Behind Attack

MOSCOW (Pakistan Point News / Sputnik - 01st September, 2018) The leader of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People's Republic (DPR) was killed on Friday in a blast, which the authorities of the breakaway region, as well as Russia, largely considered to be a terrorist attack orchestrated by the Ukrainian authorities.

Zakharchenko was killed when an explosion occurred in the Separ cafe in downtown Donetsk earlier in the day. DPR Finance Minister Yuri Timofeev was wounded in the blast. Shortly after, all roads leading in and out of the city were closed off and a state of emergency was imposed, while DPR military units were put on high alert.

Several hours after the blast, suspects were detained.

Donetsk prosecutors and Russia's Investigative Committee have launched separate criminal investigations into Zakharchnko's murder.

The DPR authorities said the explosion was a terrorist attack and another act of aggression against the self-proclaimed republic.

Zakharchenko's spokeswoman Alena Alekseeva said the DPR police established that the bomb had been set off on orders by the Ukrainian Security Service (SBU).

DPR parliament speaker Denis Pushilin pledged that the republic would avenge Zakharchenko's death.

"It was a planned murder, it was planned by the Ukrainian security services under the guidance of the United States," Eduard Basurin, the deputy commander of the DPR Operational Command, said.

The SBU, in its turn, confirmed Zakharchenko's death, but denied involvement in the attack.

"In our opinion, this was the result of wars between local leaders dividing something," SBU spokeswoman Elena Gitlyanskaya said.

According to Ukrainian lawmaker Anton Herashchenko, the DPR leader's death could be staged "with a particular aim." The lawmaker, however, did not specify what the aim could be.

Russian President Vladimir Putin expressed condolences to the DPR and Zakharchenko's family, and expressed hope that organizers and perpetrators of the attack would be found and punished.

"The vile assassination of Alexander Zakharchenko is one more sign that those who chose the way of terror, violence and intimidation, do not want to look for a peaceful, political solution of the conflict, do not want to engage in a peaceful dialogue with residents of southeastern Ukraine. Instead of that they place a dangerous stake on destabilization of the situation to bring Donbas people to knees. They will not succeed," Putin said, adding that Russia would always be with the Donbas people.

The Russian Foreign Ministry said that Moscow considered Zakharchenko's murder as a terrorist attack.

The ministry's spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said that "there were all the reasons to believe that Kiev regime, which repeatedly used similar means to eliminate the opposition, was behind the murder."

Zakharova called on Kiev to abandon its terrorist methods and urged the Western states to demand and monitor an unbiased investigation into the assassination of Zakharchenko.

A number of Russian officials agreed that the assassination would significantly aggravate the already tense situation in Donbas and impede the implementation of the Minsk accords.

"Of course, this is one more signal that many don't like the Minsk agreements, and today, in my opinion, we should make additional efforts to save them from being destroyed and not to allow their undermining," Russian Ambassador to the United States Anatoly Antonov said.

According to Konstantin Kosachev, head of the Russian Federation Council's committee on foreign affairs, the attack, most likely commissioned by Kiev, was an attempt to hamper a peaceful political solution to the Donbas conflict.

The Russian Foreign Ministry said that the assassination looked "especially cynical" amid the recently announced "school ceasefire."

"The murder of one of the signatories of the [Minsk accords] fits within Kiev's pattern of the resolution of the Ukrainian conflict with the use of force. Such actions create a serious threat of destabilization of the situation in southeastern Ukraine," the ministry said in a statement.

In 2014, the Ukrainian army started an offensive against Donbas militias who refused to recognize the newly-formed government. The conflict between the Luhansk People's Republic (LPR) and the DPR, on one side, and the Kiev forces, on the other, has claimed over 10,000 lives according to UN figures and is still ongoing.

Efforts to stabilize the situation in eastern Ukraine have been made by the Normandy Four group comprising Russia, Ukraine, France, and Germany. The group brokered the Minsk peace accords in 2015 in a bid to end hostilities in the area. However, the warring parties have so far failed to observe the ceasefire.