Ukraine Takes Responsibility for Assassination of Kremlin-Backed Official in Luhansk Car Bombing
On Wednesday, Ukraine claimed responsibility for the assassination of Mikhail Filiponenko, a Russia-backed official, in a car bombing in the occupied city of Luhansk. Filiponenko, a former head of the army in the self-declared Luhansk People’s Republic (LPR), served as a lawmaker in the Kremlin-installed assembly and had been actively involved in the pro-Russian separatist movement in the region since 2014.
Reports from both Ukrainian and Russian authorities confirmed Filiponenko’s death in the car bombing. Ukraine’s military intelligence swiftly asserted responsibility, stating that the operation to eliminate him was carried out in collaboration with representatives of the resistance movement. The Defense Intelligence of Ukraine issued a warning that others aligned with “terrorist Russia” would face similar “retribution.”
Russia’s Investigative Committee initiated a criminal investigation into the explosion, acknowledging the detonation of an explosive device under Filiponenko’s car. Ukraine’s Defense Intelligence revealed that the bomb exploded at 8:40 a.m. Wednesday, effectively eliminating the so-called deputy of the ‘Supreme Soviet LPR’ from the Russian Liberal Democratic Party.
The Defense Intelligence accused Filiponenko of involvement in organizing torture chambers in the occupied territories of Luhansk, where prisoners of war and civilian hostages were subjected to inhumane treatment. The statement emphasized that Filiponenko personally engaged in brutal torture.
Addressing the broader context of Russia’s alleged use of torture in occupied territories, the Defense Intelligence cited evidence of widespread mistreatment. In August, a report revealed that nearly half of Ukrainians held in Russian detention centers in Kherson experienced torture, including sexual violence. Additionally, Ukrainian prosecutors in September initiated over 3,000 criminal cases related to Russia’s alleged crimes against children in the country, encompassing instances of torture.
The Defense Intelligence of Ukraine posted Filiponenko’s address and issued a warning to others involved with “terrorist Russia” in the temporarily occupied territories, stating that all war criminals and collaborators would face fair retribution.
Luhansk, one of the four regions unilaterally annexed by Russia in September of the previous year, continues to witness ongoing fighting along with Donetsk. Kherson and Zaporizhzhia, occupied by Russian forces since the full-scale invasion in 2022, add to the complex geopolitical landscape in the region. The assassination of Russian-backed officials in occupied Ukraine is not unprecedented, with several attempts documented in recent history.