Former head of Russia’s security service FSB suspects Kiev’s role in Zakharchenko murder

MOSCOW, September 1. /TASS/. The former head of Russia’s security service FSB, lawmaker Nikolai Kovalyov, believes that the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) could be behind Friday’s blast that killed Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR) leader Alexander Zakharchenko.

"The present-day Ukraine views armed terror as an efficient way to put pressure, and actively uses it to deal with its opponents," said Kovalyov, who is also a member of the security committee at the State Duma, the lower chamber of the Russian parliament.

He said the blast, which left two people dead and nine injured, "is highly likely to be [organized] by the Security Service of Ukraine, by the state which is now called Ukraine."

"As far as the aftermath of this attack is concerned, I don’t expect any drastic changes," the lawmaker said. "As global practice shows, political goals cannot be achieved through methods of terror. However, if the West fails to react to the surge of terrorist activities in Ukraine, it would look weird."

Another State Duma lawmaker, a member of the international affairs committee Sergei Zheleznyak, described Zakharchenko’s death as "a serious blow to the republic", intended to destabilize the situation in Donbass in general.

"I’m sure that the republic’s law enforcement agencies will do their best to find those guilty of this foul crime," he said, adding that "Russian law enforcement bodies are ready to render any kind of assistance, if necessary."

Oleg Nemensky, a leading research fellow at the Russian Institute of Strategic Studies, said Ukrainian President Pyotr Poroshenko could make use of the escalation in Donbass to postpone presidential elections, due next spring. However, he doubts that the Kiev government plotted the attack.

"Ukraine does not need Donbass, Kiev needs, so to say, a fake war in which hostilities along the line of contact intensify from time to time, but it is not in Kiev’s interest to win this war," he said. "Poroshenko may need intensified hostilities closer to the presidential elections, so that he could impose martial law and postpone those elections indefinitely, because there is no other way for him to stay in power. However, it would hardly be reasonable for him to impose the martial law so early."

According to the expert, separate groups within the Ukrainian political establishment, including those linked to tycoons, could be behind Zakharchenko’s murder.

"The Ukrainian government is not a single political entity, the initiative could possibly originate at lower levels of power," he said. "Besides, this could be the work of a subversive group, related to oligarchs, whose interests are different from those of the official Kiev."

The expert does not rule out that Poroshenko may use Zakharchenko’s murder to intensify the debate on sending UN peacekeepers to Donbass. However, he described the plans of a peacekeeping mission as "unrealistic."

Alexander Zakharchenko, who had been Prime Minister of the DPR since 2014, died in an explosion in downtown Donetsk on Friday. He was 42 years old. The blast left two people dead and nine injured, including DPR minister of taxes and duties, Alexander Timofeyev, and the head of a local youth organization, Natalya Volkova. DPR Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Trapeznikov, who was appointed acting head of the republic, said law enforcement agencies have already detained several suspects in the blast, who confirmed the Kiev government’s involvement. The Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) earlier denied any role in the blast.