Pro-Russia officials assassinated in occupied Kherson before attempting to retake Ukrainian region

Ukrainian partisans appear to have launched a campaign to assassinate pro-Russian officials in occupied Kherson ahead of a planned offensive to retake the region.

Yesterday the Moscow-based deputy head of the town of Nova Kakhovka near Kherson was shot dead as he stepped out of his block of flats.

According to Russian media, Vitaly Gur died on the way to the hospital in Crimea.

Investigators reportedly found discarded shell casings from a Makarov semi-automatic pistol near Gur’s home. The reliable Makarov pistol was the standard weapon for the Soviet military, KGB agents and the police.

“As far as I know, he died,” said Vladimir Leontyev, head of the pro-Russian collaborator government in the Kherson region. “He was in the hospital. Military doctors tried to save his life.”

Nova Kakhovka is a town of around 45,000 inhabitants, located on the southern bank of the Dnipro River. It is an important hub for Russian efforts to supply the city of Kherson 56 km further down the river’s northern bank.

It came a day after the pro-Russian mayor of the city of Kherson suddenly fell so ill that he had to be placed in an induced coma. Volodymyr Saldo was sent to Crimea and later flown to the Sklifosovsky Emergency Research Institute in Moscow for toxicology tests.

Russian news reports differed on what Mr. Saldo is suffering from. Some reported he had suffered a stroke, others that he had contracted Covid-19. Opposition media said he was poisoned.

In recent months, saboteurs and assassins have stepped up their attacks in the Kherson region.

In June, two separate car bombs killed the head of the prison service and a senior pro-Russian civilian government official. In July, a bomb blew up a car with two police officers in it.

The attacks come as Ukraine prepares for an offensive to retake the strategic region.

Russian troops conquered the area bordering Crimea without a fight in the first days of the war.

Fighting in the Donbass, which was previously the focus, has stalled. Instead, Britain’s MoD said efforts had shifted south, where the war is entering a “new phase” along a 360km frontline. There, Ukrainian forces have blown up bridges across the Dnipro River, vital to Russian supply lines to Kherson.

To counteract this, Russia has sent thousands of reinforcement soldiers.

“Long convoys of Russian military trucks, tanks, towed artillery and other weapons continue to move away from Ukraine’s Donbass region and head south-west,” Britain’s Defense Ministry said.

Russian forces have also stepped up missile attacks on the city of Mykolaiv, 40 km from Kherson. This weekend, the city implemented a special curfew from late Friday until early morning as authorities try to catch people collaborating with Russia.

© Telegraph Media Group Ltd (2022)

Telegraph Media Group Limited [2022] Pro-Russia officials assassinated in occupied Kherson before attempting to retake Ukrainian region

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