Footage of the blast that killed Aleksandr Zakharchenko, the head of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic, has been obtained by the Russian media. The investigators also shared some new details of the incident.
The video, aired by the Russian Rossiya 1 TV channel, shows the CCTV footage of Zakharchenko entering a café in Donetsk, in Eastern Ukraine, surrounded by his bodyguards on August 31, moments before the deadly explosion.
One of his bodyguards was the first to enter the café to check security. It is only then that Zakharchenko himself goes into a small lobby accompanied by another bodyguard. A massive explosion immediately rocks the entire building.
And in a case of cruel irony, the table in the cafe which was frequently used by Zakharchenko had a sign reading: “this table is mined”, apparently a light-hearted attempt to deter other patrons from claiming his spot.
Investigators revealed that an explosive device with a payload equivalent to 1.5 kilograms of TNT, and filled with shrapnel, was placed inside the ceiling in the lobby. As a result of the explosion, the lobby was completely destroyed while Zakharchenko and his bodyguard died at the scene.
It is still unclear how the culprits managed to place the device, as it would require dismantling the enclosure ceiling and would take quite some time. According to the investigators, it was also connected to the café’s electric wiring.
The bomb was detonated at the very moment Zakharchenko was going through the lobby, the investigators said, adding that such an operation would require thorough preparation and impeccable timing.
“A person of Zakharchenko's size would require [mere] seconds to pass through the lobby,” Aleksandr Konoplya, a member of the investigative team, told Rossiya 1. The assassins either would have had to follow the DPR head’s motorcade, or to have several cameras near the café, or even to somehow tap into the facility’s CCTV network, he added.
The investigators have not revealed if the CCTV cameras also recorded the moment when the device was placed. Earlier, the DPR acting head, Denis Pushilin, said that Zakharchenko’s murder was committed with the help of Western intelligence services.
DPR investigators analyzed the remains of the explosive device that killed Zakharchenko and identified technology that hadn’t previously been used by the Ukrainian security service, the SBU, he said. The SBU released a statement, in which it denied any involvement in the incident and blamed it on the infighting in the Donetsk Republic.
Earlier in September, Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB) accused Ukrainian intelligence services of being behind the explosion that killed Zakharchenko. Moscow also condemned the murder of the 42-year old, saying that the incident may jeopardize the peace process in the east of the country.
Zakharchenko had headed the DPR since November 2014, when a crisis broke out in Ukraine following a coup d’etat that ousted President Viktor Yanukovych.
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