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Russia claims it foiled assassination attempt in occupied Zaporizhzhia Oblast

by Martin Fornusek and The Kyiv Independent news desk February 19, 2024 10:08 AM 2 min read
Photo for illustrative purposes. Russian soldiers patrol a street in Russian-occupied Melitopol, Zaporizhzhia Oblast, southern Ukraine, on May 1, 2022. (Getty Images)
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Russia's Federal Security Service (FSB) claims it had prevented an assassination attempt of a "political figure" in Russian-occupied parts of Zaporizhzhia Oblast, the Russian state-owned news agency RIA Novosti said on Feb. 19.

The FSB alleged that the attempted assassination was carried out by Russian citizen Vitali Dyatlenko, supposedly recruited by the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU).

The Kyiv Independent could not verify the claims. Ukrainian officials made no comment.

According to the FSB, the man planted an explosive under the car of his target while pretending to be physically impaired. After "offering armed resistance," he was "neutralized" during an attempted arrest, the FSB claimed.

There were no casualties or damage as a result of the incident, Russia claimed. The identity of the supposed assassination target was not revealed.

RIA Novosti published a video of a man passing by a car with a visible limp before suddenly kneeling down and sliding some object underneath the vehicle. A later part of the footage showed armed men in Russian uniforms approaching a house, supposedly where the man was located after "planting the bomb."

The final part of the video appears to have captured the neutralization of the explosive with a drone.

The footage does not make it clear whether the man actually offered resistance as the FSB alleged.

Russia has occupied parts of Zaporizhzhia Oblast since the early days of its full-scale invasion in 2022. Russian dictator Vladimir Putin illegally declared an annexation of Zaporizhzhia Oblast and three other Ukrainian regions in 2022, a move broadly denounced by Kyiv and international community.

While it is unclear whether the FSB's allegations are true, several assassinations against Russian high-profile figures, both successful and not, have been reported in Russian-occupied regions of Ukraine since the start of the full-scale war.

Ukrinform reported in December 2023 that according to its SBU sources, the security service orchestrated the assassination of pro-Kremlin official Oleg Popov in Luhansk. Popov served as a deputy in Moscow's proxy government in occupied Luhansk Oblast, which has been under Russian control since 2014.

Ukraine's military intelligence (HUR) confirmed last November that it was behind the vehicle explosion that killed Mikhail Filiponenko, another proxy official in occupied Luhansk Oblast. Filiponenko was a former military commander who reportedly organized torture chambers in the region.

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