Ukrainian families asked to evacuate amid resurgence of Russian attacks 3:27

(CNN) -- Ukraine said it was responsible for the death of a Russian-backed official with a car bomb in the occupied eastern city of Luhansk on Wednesday.

Mikhail Filiponenko, a lawmaker in the Kremlin-installed assembly, was a former army chief of the so-called Luhansk People's Republic (LPR). He had been active in the region's pro-Russian separatist movement since 2014.

Both Ukrainian and Russian authorities reported that Filiponenko was killed in a car bomb attack early Wednesday. Ukraine's military intelligence service immediately claimed responsibility and warned that others serving "terrorist Russia" would receive similar "retribution."

"A special operation to eliminate the executioner Filiponenko was implemented together with representatives of the resistance movement," Ukrainian Defense Intelligence said on Telegram.

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Mikhail Filiponenko, former military chief of the self-proclaimed Lunhansk People's Republic, was killed by a car bomb on November 8, 2023. (Credit: Stanislav Krasilnikov/SPTNK/Sputnik via AP)

Russia's Investigative Committee said it had launched a criminal investigation into the explosion.


"This morning an unidentified explosive device exploded under the underside of the car, killing Mikhail Filiponenko," the committee said on Telegram. "A criminal case has been opened."

Ukrainian Defense Intelligence said the bomb detonated at 8:40 a.m. on Wednesday and confirmed that "the so-called deputy of the so-called 'Supreme Soviet LPR' of the Russian Liberal Democratic Party, Filiponenko Mikhail Yuryevich, was eliminated."

Filiponenko had been "involved in organizing torture chambers in the occupied territories of the Luhansk region, where prisoners of war and civilian hostages were subjected to inhumane torture," according to Defense Intelligence.

"Filiponenko personally took it upon himself to brutally torture people."

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A video shows the site of the car bomb explosion that killed Filiponenko. (Credit: Stanislav Krasilnikov/Sputnik/AP)

There is mounting evidence of Russia's widespread use of torture against Ukrainians in the territories it has occupied. According to a report published in August, nearly half of Ukrainians held in Russian detention centers in Kherson were subjected to widespread torture, including sexual violence. Separately, the Ukrainian prosecutor's office opened more than 3,000 criminal cases in September for alleged crimes committed by Russia against children in the country, including torture.

Ukrainian Defense Intelligence published Filiponenko's address and warned others: "All the addresses of traitors and the places of their service to terrorist Russia in the temporarily occupied territories of Ukraine are known! Ukrainian Defense Intelligence declares that all war criminals and collaborators will be justly punished."

There have been several assassination attempts against Russian-backed officials in occupied Ukraine. The acting interior minister of the self-proclaimed Luhansk People's Republic, Igor Kornet, was "seriously" injured in an explosion in May.

Luhansk is one of four regions that Russia unilaterally annexed in September last year, along with Donetsk, Kherson and Zaporizhzhia. Luhansk and Donetsk are home to two Russian-backed secessionist republics that have been fighting since 2014. Kherson and Zaporizhzhia in southern Ukraine have been occupied by Russian forces since shortly after the full-scale invasion began in 2022.

Moscow staged fraudulent fakes in all four regions in September, in an attempt to impose a narrative of Russian legitimacy on the parts of Ukraine it owns. "The results of the election are already known," a Zaporizhzhia resident told CNN ahead of the vote, which predictably delivered a landslide victory for President Vladimir Putin's United Russia party.