Russian authorities and state news agencies said on Wednesday that one of the highest-ranking officials appointed by Russia was killed in the occupied territory of Ukraine.
Kirill Stremousov, the deputy head of the Kherson region in southern Ukraine, appointed by Russia, died in a car accident, according to the press secretary of the head of the region, according to the Russian news agency TASS.
Also on Wednesday, Russia ordered a withdrawal from the west bank of the Dnieper River through the Kherson region, a sharp blow to Moscow in the face of recent Ukrainian advances.
Stremousov died in an accident on the highway between Kherson and Armeniansk in Crimea, Russian state media company Vesti (VGTRK) reported, citing the region’s health minister. Stremousov was 45 years old, Vesti reports.
Vladimir Saldo, the “head” of Kherson appointed by Russia, also announced his death and wrote on the Telegram page: “It is very difficult for me to say that Kirill Stremusov died today. He died in a car accident in Kherson region.
Stremousov, a Ukrainian who rushed to the side of the Russian occupation when Kherson fell early in the invasion, became one of the most outspoken and outspoken of the Russian appointees.
As deputy head of the military administration of Kherson Oblast, Stremousov was prominent in organizing and supporting a referendum on Kherson’s illegal annexation to Russia, and was recently the driving force behind the Ukrainian military’s evacuation of civilians from Kherson’s west coast. Dnipro.
“Many of the residents who decided to stay in Kherson have only now begun to understand the gravity of the situation and my warnings,” Stremousov said on Tuesday.
Stremousov frequently described Ukrainian authorities and forces as “Nazis” and “fascists” on his Telegram page. But he also criticized the wrong steps of the Russian military. He accused the Kherson military laggards of “incompetent commanders” who were not held accountable for their mistakes.
On Wednesday evening, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu ordered the withdrawal of Russian troops from the west bank of the Dnieper, Russian state media reported.
It would be the most significant military development in the war since Ukrainian forces overran the northern Kharkiv region in September. Shoigu’s order came as Ukrainian troops were advancing on the city of Kherson from two sides.
Russian troops also destroyed bridges crossing occupied parts of Kherson region west of the Dnieper, local Ukrainian officials and Russian military analysts reported via Telegram.
The official representative of Ukraine expressed disbelief in the information about Stremusov’s death. Yury Sobolevsky, the first deputy chairman of the Kherson regional council of Ukraine, told the Telegram page: “Regarding the information spread by the invaders and Russian sources regarding the death of collaborator Kirill Stremousov in an accident, we cannot confirm or deny the information yet. It can be real, or it can be staged.”
Stremousov previously had a checkered career as a local politician in Kherson and was involved in several criminal cases. He also practiced Paganism and a special form of yoga. In a 2017 video, she was seen circling her infant daughter by her feet.
Stremousov is not the first leader to receive Russian support. Alexander Zakharchenko, the leader of Russian-backed separatists, was killed in a cafe bombing in 2018. A number of separatist commanders have also been assassinated before Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine.
Russian and separatist leaders blamed Ukraine for the deaths. Ukrainian authorities, for their part, have argued that Moscow is eliminating problematic local leaders. Several high-profile separatists have said they have ties to organized crime, and some observers have speculated that their deaths may be gang-related.