According to Russian officials and state news organisations, one of the most senior Russian-appointed officials in occupied Ukrainian territory has died.
According to the press secretary for the territory’s head, Kirill Stremousov, the deputy leader of the Kherson region in southern Ukraine who had been appointed by Russia, was killed in a car accident.
In a significant setback to recent Ukrainian advances, Russia also ordered a retreat from the west bank of the Dnipro River across the Kherson region on Wednesday.
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According to the Crimean health minister and the Russian state media outlet Vesti (VGTRK), Stremousov was killed in an accident on the highway connecting Kherson and Armyansk. According to Vesti, Stremousov was 45 years of age.
The Russian-appointed “leader” of Kherson, Vladimir Saldo, also made the announcement of his passing in a Telegram post, writing: “It is very difficult for me to say that Kirill Stremousov passed away today.
He passed away while traveling through the Kherson region in an automobile accident. When Kherson fell early in the invasion, Stremousov, a Ukrainian, was quick to support the Russian occupation and quickly rose to become one of the most prominent and outspoken Russian appointees.
Stremousov was a key player in organising and promoting the referendum on Kherson’s illegitimate annexation by Russia. More recently, he had been the impetus behind the evacuation of people from Kherson’s west bank as Ukrainian forces advanced into the Dnipro.
“Most citizens who chose to remain in Kherson are only now beginning to comprehend the gravity of the situation and my warnings,” Stremousov said on Tuesday.
Stremousov routinely used Telegram to brandish the terms “Nazis” and “fascists” to refer to Ukrainian authorities and forces. But he also criticised the Russian military’s errors. He attributed the military failures in Kherson to “incompetent commanders” who weren’t made to pay for their errors.
According to Russian official media, Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu ordered the removal of Russian forces from the Dnipro’s west bank later on Wednesday.
Since Ukrainian forces overran the northern Kharkiv region in September, this would represent the war’s most important military development. As Ukrainian soldiers march in two directions into the city of Kherson, Shoigu gave the command.
According to earlier reports from a local Ukrainian official and Russian military analysts on Telegram, Russian forces have also demolished bridges that cross over the region of Kherson that is under occupation to the west of the Dnipro.
Skepticism And Murky Circumstances
A representative of Ukraine raised doubt on the news of Stremousov’s demise. Yuriy Sobolevskyi, the first deputy leader of the Ukrainian Kherson regional council, posted on Telegram that he could neither confirm nor refute the information of the death of collaborator Kirill Stremousov in an accident that had been reported by Russian sources and the invaders. It might be contrived or it might be true.
As a municipal politician in Kherson in the past, Stremousov had a rocky career and got into some fights. He also experimented with paganism and an odd variation of yoga. He was captured on camera in 2017 swinging his infant daughter by the feet.
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Stremousov is hardly the first leader supported by Russia to pass away under mysterious circumstances. Separatists with Russian support were commanded by Alexander Zakharchenko, who was assassinated in a café bombing in 2018. Before Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine, a number of rebel commanders were also assassinated in a series of unexplained killings.
Russian and rebel officials attributed the murders to Ukraine. In response, Ukrainian officials asserted that Moscow was removing problematic local leaders. A number of well-known separatists were rumoured to have connections to organised crime, and some observers hypothesised that criminal organisations may have killed them as retaliation.