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Pro-Kremlin Ukrainian politician Illia Kyva assassinated near Moscow: "Such a fate will befall other traitors of Ukraine"

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Where Ukraine aid negotiations stand 02:58

Kyiv said it orchestrated the assassination of a pro-Kremlin Ukrainian politician on Wednesday after the body of the ex-lawmaker who had defected to Russia was found outside Moscow.

A source in Ukraine's defense sector told AFP that its SBU security services had orchestrated the assassination of Illia Kyva, a former Ukrainian lawmaker who was kicked out of parliament and defected to Russia weeks after Moscow launched its military offensive last year.

Since Russia invaded last February, Ukraine has claimed to be behind several assassinations and attacks on pro-war Russians and former Ukrainian officials who have backed Moscow's war.

People's Deputy of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine Kyva Illia
People's Deputy of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine Illia Kyva, center, speaks during a rally for the Pro-Russian party Opposition Platform on March 2, 2021.  Aleksandr Gusev/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Kyva's body was discovered on Wednesday in the village of Suponevo near Moscow, emergency services told Russian state news media RIA Novosti.

Speaking on national TV, Ukraine's military intelligence spokesperson Andriy Yusov said: "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."

Yusov called Kyva "one of the biggest scumbags, traitors and collaborators" and said his death was "justice."

Kyiv used to rarely comment on whether it was behind a spate of killings of pro-Russian figures, both inside Russia and in parts of Ukraine occupied by Russian forces.

But lately it has started to claim responsibility for several attacks and openly threatened to hunt down other "collaborators" and "traitors."

Other reports of assassinations and attacks 

Assassinations -- as well as attempts to kill enemies or perceived traitors -- are not uncommon in the Ukraine war.

Last month, Ukraine said it believed Russia had poisoned the wife of its military intelligence chief, in an apparent assassination attempt targeting the heart of Kyiv's leadership. Ukraine's Babel news site reported that Kyiv had opened an investigation into what it described as the "attempted murder" of Marianna Budanova, the wife of Kyrylo Budanov, who is the head of Ukraine's military intelligence agency known by its local acronym GUR.

Russia denied the accusation.

Several pro-Russian officials and supporters of Moscow's invasion of Ukraine have been assassinated since Russia launched its full-scale assault on Ukraine last February.

Officials have said they have foiled "more than 10" assassination attempts against Budanov, a highly respected figure in Ukraine.

Budanov's influential military intelligence unit is considered responsible for several sabotage attacks against Russia that have taken place behind the frontlines.

Moscow has accused the GUR of being behind the October 2022 explosions on the Kerch bridge, which links Russia to the annexed Crimean peninsula.

Budanov said in August his wife had been living with him "in his office" and had not left his side since the start of the invasion for security purposes.

In an interview with the British tabloid The Sun last month, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy claimed that he's survived "no fewer" than five or six assassination attempts since Russia invaded Ukraine last year.

"The first one is very interesting, when it is the first time, and after that it is just like Covid," Zelenskyy told the Sun. "First of all, people don't know what to do with it and it's looking very scary. And then after that, it is just intelligence sharing with you detail that one or more groups came to Ukraine to [attempt] this."

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