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Zelensky critic found dead in Russia – media

The body of a former Ukrainian opposition lawmaker, Ilya Kiva, has been found in Moscow Region, Russian media reported on Wednesday. The politician was known as a staunch critic of President Vladimir Zelensky.

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Kiva’s body was reportedly found on the grounds of the ‘Velich Country Club’ hotel near a cottage where he was residing. He was allegedly lying face down in a pool of blood in deep snow, several Russian media outlets reported, citing law enforcement sources. The man suffered a wound to the head according to TASS, citing its source.

Ukrainian military intelligence spokesman, Andrey Yusov, later stated that Ukrainian security services were behind the attack, news outlet ‘Strana’ reported. Other media claimed that country’s domestic security service, the SBU, orchestrated the assault.

Russian officials have not commented on the incident so far.

Kiva was a Ukrainian MP from 2019 to 2022 and a member of the ‘Opposition Platform – For Life’ party, which was officially banned by Kiev in June 2022. Kiva himself was a fierce critic of Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky and the government’s pro-NATO policies. In a 2022 interview, he slammed the US and NATO for, as he said, using Ukraine as “bait” to provoke Russia into a conflict.

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The politician left Ukraine not long before the start of Russian military action in February 2022, moving first to Spain and then to Russia. Ukraine stripped him of his mandate in mid-March 2022, less than a month after the start of Moscow’s operation. Ukrainian law enforcement also charged him with state treason the same month, accusing him of “doing everything” to invite the “Russian aggressors” to the country.

He was eventually sentenced in absentia to 14 years behind bars in Ukraine. In his last social media post, dated Wednesday morning, Kiva accused Zelensky of “drowning the [Ukrainian] people in blood,” adding that fleeing abroad or committing suicide would be the only two options for him since the US Senate has yet to approve a bill to fund further Ukraine military aid.

Russia’s Investigative Committee has opened a probe into the murder of the former Ukrainian legislator, the law enforcement agency said in a statement on Wednesday. The committee confirmed the identity of the politician and said he had been killed on Tuesday evening by an unknown assailant, who shot him with a gun. It did not name any suspects in the case and said that all possible avenues of inquiry were being pursued.

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