(GRAPHIC) Former Russian-Installed Mayor Targeted in Melitopol Car Bombing

Maxim Zubarev, the former Russian-installed mayor of Akimovka, was reportedly killed on April 3 after an explosive device planted in his car exploded in Russian-controlled Melitopol, Ukraine (46.832958, 35.364884).

Zubarev was involved in local politics of Melitopol since the early 2000s as a member of the Communist Party. In 2014 following the events of Euromaidan, Zubarev helped organize the “Russian Spring” in Melitopol, which was part of a larger pro-Russian movement in eastern Ukraine that ultimately resulted in the start of the Ukraine Civil War. He remained in Melitopol politics with the Communist Party until Russian forces took over the city and large swaths of the Zaporizhzhia Oblast in March 2022, where he was eventually named mayor of Akimovka due to his allegiance to Russia.

Russian media initially reported that Zubarev was gravely wounded by the blast and was taken to a local hospital. Later reports suggested that Zubarev was killed instantly by the attack, with his body being shown in released photos. It remains unknown if anyone else was in the vehicle with him at the time of the attack. Pro-Ukrainian partisan activity has regularly targeted Russian-installed leaders or collaborators in Russian-controlled areas of Ukraine. Melitopol has seen several bombings since it was captured by Russian forces.