Russia’s security service has accused Kiev of orchestrating the attack on Oleg Tsarev
Russia’s FSB security service has claimed to have “irrefutable proof” that its Ukrainian counterpart, the SBU, was behind an assassination attempt on Oleg Tsarev, a former Ukrainian lawmaker living in Russia. On Tuesday, a resident of Yalta in Crimea was named as a key accomplice in the failed hit.
The 46-year-old Russian citizen, who allegedly coordinated the gun attack on Tsarev, was detained on Monday, according to a statement and media files published by the FSB. In a video published by the agency, the suspect claimed he was recruited by the SBU in January, and a month later got a job at the health resort in Yalta where Tsarev lives, with the aim of gathering information on the former MP’s movements.
“I received instructions on collecting information to prepare the assassination attempt, on movement and location, as well as on selecting a place to store weapons,” the man said.
The law enforcement service said evidence obtained during the investigation confirms that the Ukrainian government “uses methods comparable to those of international terrorist structures”.
The FSB said it found an improvised explosive device at the suspect’s home, as well as equipment used to communicate with his Ukrainian handler, and materials produced as a result of surveillance of the target. The man stands accused of facilitating the hit by spying on the former lawmaker and preparing a cache with weapons for the gunman.
The agency released footage of the suspect’s arrest and questioning and the search of his home, as well as an audio recording, purportedly of him talking to the handler. In it, an unidentified man speaking Russian with a noticeable Ukrainian accent can be heard telling the suspect to keep calm and not to draw attention to himself.
“Nobody knows we communicated with you. You just did your job like everyone else. There are 200 people working there in addition to you,” the alleged SBU contact said.
The attack against Tsarev, 53, took place on Thursday night. He was taken to hospital with two gunshot wounds, but his life is no longer in danger, according to the FSB.
The former lawmaker is considered a traitor in his home nation, and had been sentenced to 12 years in absentia for attempts to “overthrow the constitutional order” of Ukraine.
Russia considers Tsarev a public figure, which puts an attempt on his life into a special category of felony. Those found guilty of such crimes face a minimum of 12 years in prison. The maximum punishment is a life sentence.
An SBU source, cited earlier by the BBC, called Tsarev “an absolutely legitimate target” for an assassination.
In September, in an interview with The Economist, Valentin Nalivaichenko, the former head of the SBU, admitted to the existence of a secret assassination unit for taking out Russian “collaborators”.
Last week, The Washington Post published an article about CIA support for the SBU. Citing sources, the paper wrote that the US invested “tens of millions” of dollars in the Ukrainian intelligence agency and its military counterpart, the GUR. However, the paper’s sources insisted that American spies were not directly involved in the “dozens of assassinations” carried out by Kiev’s special services.
October 31, 2023 at 10:54PM