Ukrainian guerrillas claimed on Friday they had killed a Kremlin-backed politician in the Russian-controlled southern region of Kherson, in the latest in a series of attacks aimed at destabilizing the occupation authorities.
Dmitry Savluchenko, the head of the region’s Department of Youth and Sports, was blown up in his car, according to Ukrainian and Russian officials, in what appeared to be part of a growing insurgency fueled by popular anger over deteriorating economic, security and humanitarian conditions as Moscow pushes for the region’s Russianization.
Kirill Strimosov, deputy head of the Russia-appointed department, called the attack a “despicable act of terrorism.”
“Threats that come my way will not break me and my companions,” he said. Video title, seated under a portrait of Russian President Vladimir Putin. “No matter what happens, even after us, Russia will be here, and our children will speak Russian.”
The Kremlin portrayed the area it has taken as stable, that people there welcome Moscow’s rule, line up for Russian passports and falsely condemn the former Ukrainian authorities as a neo-Nazi gang. But Ukrainian officials say residents are being forced to take passports, prices have skyrocketed and many people are out of work.
Ukrainians celebrated the assassination and said their resistance was increasing.
“Our supporters have achieved another victory,” Serhiy Khelan, adviser to the head of the military administration of the Kherson region, said in a Facebook post on Friday. “A pro-Russian traitor and activist was blown up in a car in one of Kherson’s squares in the morning.”
This week, the head of Ukraine’s intelligence agency, Kirillo Budanov, said Ukrainian rebels had wounded another Russian-backed official, Oleksiy Kovalev, in the Kherson region. At least two additional attacks on people working with the Russians were also reported in Kherson and Zaporizhzhya regions this week.
The Russians did not acknowledge all the attacks. They control access to the captured lands, and reports of what is happening there often come from witness accounts that are passed on to Ukrainian officials. Many of the specific incidents cannot be independently confirmed, but they fit into a broader pattern described by witnesses who spoke to the New York Times and other independent news media.
Ukrainians point to documented atrocities committed by Russian forces in the areas they briefly controlled in northern Ukraine as evidence of the form of Russian rule. They are also keen to encourage attacks on Russian forces and their proxies.
Ivan Fedorov, the exiled mayor of Melitopol and unofficial spokesman for the Ukrainian resistance in his city, said in Press Conference On Friday, bounties of up to $10,000 were given to Moscow for killing senior proxy leaders.
“Our supporters have started the hunting season,” said Mr. Fedorov.
Russia continues to strengthen its defensive positions across the south while also taking steps to further integrate the region with Russia. Russia’s Foreign Minister, Sergei V. Lavrov, said on Thursday that any future peace talks with Kyiv would be based on the “situation on the ground” while those negotiations would resume.
“There are liberated areas there,” Mr. Lavrov said. Interview With Belarusian State Television. “The majority of the population cannot consider returning under the control of the neo-Nazi authorities.”
The Ukrainian Army’s Center for National Resistance said that as efforts to introduce Russian passports to the general public failed to attract a large number of detainees, officials forced them on their colleagues at the North Kherson Correctional.
Mr. Fedorov said people in his city were told they couldn’t get pensions or start a business unless they took a passport.
Mr Fedrov said that up to 80 per cent of the public in Melitopol is unemployed. Basic foodstuffs are three times more expensive than in the Ukrainian-controlled areas.
Anastasia Kuznetsova Contribute to the preparation of reports.