11:08 08.02.2017

Ukraine's SBU still not confirming Givi's death

Ukraine's Security Service (SBU) has not yet confirmed information about the death of the Mikhail Tolstykh, also known as Givi, a unit field commander of Russian occupation forces in eastern Ukraine. SBU officials do not rule out that Ukrainian forces will be blamed for Givi's assassination.

"I can't confirm this information. We must check it. Ukraine does not control temporarily occupied areas of Donetsk and Luhansk regions," SBU advisor Yuriy Tandit said during a live on-air interview at the Kyiv-based 112.ua TV channel on Wednesday.

Tandit said that if the information of Givi's death is confirmed the death will testify to the fact that people connected with illegal armed formations in eastern Ukraine "are being eliminated by certain services beyond the line of demarcation [between Russian hybrid forces and Ukrainian government troops]." Tandit added that this was his reading of the situation.

The SBU advisor said several versions of Givi's assassination have emerged in the occupied territories, noting the death could be blamed on Ukrainian authorities.

Anti-Terrorism operation (ATO) speaker Leonid Matiukhin also did not confirm information about Givi's death.

"There is no official confirmation," he said. "Analyzing the situation, it appears he has died … It appears the information is correct," he told 112.ua, adding that Givi might have been blown up with a rocket propelled grenade.

Ukrainian journalist Yuriy Butusov on his Facebook page, citing a Russian colleague, wrote: "They used a hand-held grenade launcher Shmel (Wasp) to blow Givi to smithereens in a small room. This is a potent weapon that demolishes everything living."

Interfax, citing a law-enforcement source in the self-proclaimed Donetsk People's Republic, reported that Tolstykh was killed in a suburb on Donetsk after an explosion. Givi at the time was located in his office.

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