23:16 Sep. 19, 2016
The leader and ideologist of Russian-backed militants in Eastern Ukraine Evgeniy Zhilin killed in elite restaurant near Russian capital
The leader of pro-Russian organization and militant unit fighting against Ukrainian forces in Donbas Evgeniy Zhilin and his colleague were shot in a restaurant "Veterok" in the elite village of Gorki-2 in the Odintsovo district, Moscow region, Russia. Unknown killer shot two men and escaped from the scene, TSN reports referring to Russian state and private media.
One of the victims appeared to be the leader of an extremist pro-Russian organization "Oplot" from Ukrainian Kharkiv, and Euromaidan opponent Evgeniy Zhilin. With the start of Russian hybrid war in Ukrainian Donbas Zhilin's "Oplot" transformed into Kremlin-backed military brigade, and his subordinate Aleksandr Zakharchenko from Donetsk branch of the organisation became the head of puppet state "DPR". Ukrainian law enforcement organisations seek to detain Zhilin, blaming him in various crimes against Euromaidan in Kyiv, Kharkiv, and Ukrainian state in Donbas, including kidnapping, torture, and creating an illegal armed formation. He has been on the international wanted list since July, 2015.
Russian proxies in their turn called him ‘the developer of military strategy of Novorossia' (Russian propaganda name for the eastern Ukrainian regions, which Putin declared to be ‘Russian lost territories' and ‘not part of Ukraine').
It is reported that the killer was waiting for the victims in the restaurant and opened fire as they entered. Later this information was confirmed by the information agency "Interfax". According to the report, the killer fired the gun on both men, then escaped in a car with a driver waiting for him outside the restaurant. Zhilin's companion – Andrei Kozyrev – was seriously injured but survived. He was hospitalized in a nearby hospital. Russian police are said to be searching for the unknown killer.
This case is the first example of killing the leaders of Kremlin-backed militants on Russian soil. Previous murders of top sepatatists, who became inconvenient for Moscow, took place in Donbas only, like it was in Bednov or Mozgovoy cases. Ukrainian sources – among them media and volunteers – earlier informed about the involvement of the Russian mercenary "Wagner group" in those operations.