‘Eliminated’: Former Ukrainian MP who defected to Russia is killed near Moscow

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A former Ukrainian MP who had settled in Russia and was sentenced in Ukraine for treason was shot and killed in a village outside Moscow, Russian investigators said Wednesday.

The MP, Illia Kyva, 46, who had called for Ukraine to surrender when Russia launched its full-scale invasion in February 2022, was discovered in the park of a gated community 40 km west of Moscow, Russian investigators said in a statement. They said that Kyva died on the spot after being shot at by an unknown individual and that authorities were opening a criminal inquiry into the killing.

Illia Kyva in 2019 in Ukraine.Credit: CC Visem

Russian investigators made no mention of the potential Ukrainian involvement, but a Ukrainian intelligence official, speaking on the condition of anonymity for security reasons, said that Kyva was killed as part of a special operation orchestrated by the State Security Service of Ukraine.

“The criminal was eliminated with small arms,” the official said.

Andriy Yusov, a spokesperson for Ukraine’s military intelligence, said on the country’s national television that Kyva was “done” and that “such a fate will befall other traitors of Ukraine, as well as the henchmen of the Putin regime”.

Kyva was a controversial figure in Russia and Ukraine. Throughout his turbulent political career, he switched sides from being an anti-Russian Ukrainian nationalist to someone who argued in favour of Russia’s control over Ukraine.

In 2021, for instance, he called President Vladimir Putin “a great ruler.”

Investigators gather at where Illia Kyva was killed near Moscow.Credit: AP

A former leader of a volunteer squad that fought pro-Russian separatists in Ukraine’s East, Kyva left Ukraine before the Kremlin launched its full-scale invasion. Since then, he settled in Russia and became a frequent commentator on Russian state television.

In March 2022, Kyva was expelled from the Ukrainian parliament, which he had entered in 2019 representing a Russia-leaning political party. He called for Ukraine to surrender and said that the Russian army was on “a sacred mission” to “liberate a brotherly nation,” referring to Ukraine.

Investigators work at the place where Illia Kyva was killed in a cottage village near Moscow, Russia.Credit: AP

In contrast, speaking on Ukrainian television in 2017, Kyva said that “all lovers of the Russian world” would be “removed from the face of Ukraine”.

In November, a court in Kyiv sentenced him in absentia to 14 years in prison for charges including treason and the attempted violent overthrow of government.

The targeting of prominent Russian and pro-Russian figures has long been part of the broader Ukrainian war effort and has continued apace even as fierce battles rage across a vast front line that has moved little over the past year.

In October, Oleg Tsaryov, another former Ukrainian MP who fled for Russia, survived an assassination attempt in Crimea. In May, Zakhar Prilepin, a popular Russian nationalist writer and politician, survived a car bombing in a village in Russia’s Nizhny Novgorod region.

Other deaths that appeared to be assassinations have been successful.

In August 2022, a car bombing in a Moscow suburb killed Daria Dugina, daughter of a hawkish pro-invasion commentator. US intelligence agencies said they believed Ukrainian government representatives authorised the attack.

Last April, a prominent Russian military blogger, Maksim Fomin, who was widely known by his pen name Vladlen Tatarsky, was killed after a bomb exploded in a St Petersburg restaurant, where he was meeting with his supporters.

Russia claimed Ukrainian special services were behind the attack. Ukraine has denied involvement.

In July, a Russian submarine commander, Stanislav Rzhitsky, was gunned down while out on a jog in the southern Russian city of Krasnodar.

This article originally appeared in The New York Times.

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