No­to­ri­ous war­lord killed in east­ern Ukraine

Kuwait Times - - INTERNATIONAL -

Ukraine’s pro-Rus­sian rebels an­nounced three days of mourn­ing yes­ter­day after no­to­ri­ous rebel com­man­der Arseny Pavlov, known as “Mo­torola”, was killed in a lift bomb­ing. The 33-year-old Rus­sian died late on Sun­day when a home­made de­vice ex­ploded in the lift at the en­trance to his block of flats in the de facto rebel cap­i­tal Donetsk, sep­a­ratist au­thor­i­ties said. It was the lat­est in a string of as­sas­si­na­tions of in­sur­gent com­man­ders, with rebel chief Alexander Zakharchenko blam­ing it on Kiev, de­scrib­ing it as a dec­la­ra­tion of “war” by Ukrainian Pres­i­dent Petro Poroshenko. But other sep­a­ratists said the bomb­ing may have been part of an in­ter­nal power strug­gle among the rebels, who Kiev and the West say are di­rected by Rus­sia.

“Ei­ther it’s an op­er­a­tion staged by the Ukrainian ser­vices or it was one of us,” said a fighter in the Sparta bat­tal­ion which had been led by Pavlov. Ukrainian mil­i­tary spokesman An­driy Ly­senko said yes­ter­day that Pavlov’s death meant he had es­caped “in­evitable pun­ish­ment in the form of life im­pris­on­ment”. “He sim­ply got lucky,” Ly­senko said. An army veteran from Rus­sia’s Komi re­gion, Pavlov who fought in the sec­ond Chechen war joined the fight­ing that broke out in east Ukraine in April 2014 as a vol­un­teer, ris­ing to promi­nence after ap­pear­ing on Rus­sian TV broad­casts.

Flow­ers, glow­ing tributes

In a 2015 in­ter­view, he fa­mously boasted of hav­ing shot 15 Ukrainian pris­on­ers of war, prompt­ing calls for an in­ves­ti­ga­tion by Amnesty In­ter­na­tional. And in June this year, he re­port­edly sur­vived another as­sas­si­na­tion at­tempt. His death was widely re­ported by Rus­sian state me­dia, which paid glow­ing trib­ute to him. Yes­ter­day morn­ing, the crime scene was ringed by armed rebel fight­ers who re­fused to let re­porters through, say­ing in­ves­ti­ga­tors were at work. Sev­eral pen­sion­ers came to lay flow­ers out­side the block of flats. Three peo­ple who wit­nessed the ex­plo­sion told AFP Pavlov’s body­guard was also killed, although this has not been con­firmed by rebel of­fi­cials. Fight­ing in east Ukraine which has claimed nearly 10,000 lives has dragged on de­spite a peace plan bro­kered by Ger­many and France, which has run around amid ac­ri­mony be­tween Rus­sia and Ukraine. Kiev yes­ter­day said one soldier was killed and seven in­jured in the lat­est clashes. Pavlov is the lat­est of rebel leader to be killed in the war-torn re­gion con­trolled by heav­ily-armed mili­tias. Ear­lier at­tacks have seen pro-Rus­sian war­lords blown up by car bombs and an­ti­tank mis­siles in spec­tac­u­lar mob-style hits that the rebel lead­er­ship blamed on Kiev but which many put down to sep­a­ratist power strug­gles.

— AP

DONETSK: In this file photo, Donetsk Peo­ple’s Repub­lic pla­toon com­man­der Arsen Pavlov, also known as Mo­torola, rides a bike at a check­point block­ing the ma­jor high­way which links Kharkiv, out­side Slovyansk, east­ern Ukraine. Sep­a­ratist rebels in east­ern Ukraine say a no­to­ri­ous war­lord has been killed in a bomb­ing in the rebel strong­hold of Donetsk.

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