Nov 9 (Reuters) – One of Russia’s most prominent officials in Ukraine was killed in a car crash on Wednesday, another blow to Moscow in the southern Kherson region amid the impending withdrawal of Russian troops.
The death of Kirill Stremosov, deputy head of the Russian-established local administration, was confirmed by his boss Vladimir Saldo, the Russia-backed acting governor of Kherson.
Before the February 24 Russian invasion, Stremosov became an obscure blogger and local politician who became the number two figure in Ukraine’s plan to forcibly overthrow its illegal occupation of Kherson.
The Kremlin said in a statement that President Vladimir Putin posthumously awarded Stremosov the prestigious state award of the Order of Courage.
A Russian-based official said the accident occurred when the driver of Stremosov’s vehicle tried to avoid hitting a truck that had made a dangerous maneuver.
Vladimir Rogov from the neighboring Zaporizhia region wrote on Telegram that the truck driver was guilty.
Russia’s RIA news agency published a video of Stremosov’s destroyed vehicle, which was in several parts. There were blood stains on the road.
Stremosov was a highly visible face on social media, churning out pro-Moscow statements. More recently, just hours before his death, he denounced what he called Ukrainians “Nazis” and said the Russian military was in “total control” of the situation in the south.
Ukraine saw him as an ally and a traitor.
Stremosov’s death added to the sense of confusion surrounding the defense of Kherson. Hours after the deadly crash, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu ordered his troops to withdraw from the occupied Ukrainian city.
Reporting by Reuters Writing by Mark Trevelyan Editing by Andrew Osborne, David Ljunggren, Bernadette Baum and Jonathan Otis
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