A former Ukrainian MP was shot dead in a park in suburban Moscow in an assassination by Ukraine’s security service (SBU).
Illia Kyva, once a pro-Russian member of Ukraine’s parliament, fled the country before Moscow’s invasion in February last year.
Earlier this year, he was sentenced in absentia to 14 years in prison for high treason for calling publicly for the Russian occupation of Ukraine.
The 46-year-old, who regularly criticised Ukraine on Russian state TV talk shows, had also been sanctioned by the UK for “undermining the territorial integrity, sovereignty and independence of Ukraine”.
Local reports, citing Ukrainian sources, confirmed the SBU had been behind Kyva’s killing.
His body was discovered in a park in the upmarket Odintsovo suburb of Moscow, Russian investigators said in a statement on Wednesday.
The Russian investigative committee said: “An unknown person fired shots at the victim from an unidentified weapon. The man died on the spot from his injuries.”
Ukrainian sources told the Kyiv Independent news outlet that the assassination had been carried out with small arms, suggesting a pistol had been used.
Andriy Yusov, the spokesman for Ukraine’s military intelligence, hinted at Kyiv’s involvement.
“We can confirm that Kyva is done. Such a fate will befall other traitors of Ukraine, as well as the henchmen of the Putin regime,” he told Ukrainian television.
The spokesman described the felled former politician as “one of the biggest scumbags, traitors and collaborators”, adding his death was “justice”.
The SBU has not officially commented on his death.
Ukrainian agents deep inside Russia
Kyva was elected to Ukraine’s parliament in 2019 for the now-banned pro-Russian Opposition Platform, which was led by Viktor Medvedchuk, the Kremlin-linked oligarch.
He received just 6,000 votes when he ran for the Ukrainian presidency, which was secured by Volodymyr Zelensky with almost six million votes.
The politician was expelled from parliament in March 2022, after he fled to Russia.
In a post on the Telegram messaging app in April last year, he urged Vladimir Putin to carry out a “preemptive” strike on Ukraine.
Kyva wrote that he hoped Mr Zelensky would commit suicide “in order to take all the problems with him” in his final post on the platform.
His death suggests Ukraine continues to use undercover agents to carry out attacks inside Russia.
Moscow has previously blamed Kyiv for the deaths of Darya Dugina, the daughter of a pro-Kremlin ideologue, and Vladlen Tatarsky, a Russian military blogger killed in an explosion at a cafe in St Petersburg once owned by Yevgeny Prigozhin, Wagner chief.
Maj Gen Kyrylo Budanov, head of Ukraine’s military intelligence, has previously hinted that Mossad, the Israeli spy agency, was an inspiration for his agency’s work.
Mossad hunted down Hamas operatives for decades after the 1972 massacre of Israeli athletes.
In a separate attack, a Russian-installed politician was killed in a car-bombing in an occupied area of Ukraine’s eastern Luhansk region.
Oleg Popov had served in the Moscow-affiliated breakaway parliament before his murder, which Russian investigators said happened after the “detonation of an unidentified device in a car”.
His death came weeks after another Luhansk region politician, Mikhail Filiponenko, was killed in a similar attack, which Kyiv claimed responsibility for.
The majority of the region has been under Russian occupation since the invasion was ordered by Putin.