DONETSK, Ukraine, Oct. 17 (UPI) — Arsen “Motorola” Pavlov, a pro-Russian rebel commander in eastern Ukraine, died in a bomb blast in his apartment building, both sides confirmed.
Pavlov had been an active participant in the conflict between Ukrainian troops and pro-Russian rebels in eastern Ukraine.
The Russian-born Pavlov, head of the rebel military group known as the Sparta battalion, was accused by Ukraine of war crimes. In September, the newspaper Ukrainskaya Pravda said Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko accused Pavlov of shooting and killing a Ukrainian prisoner of war, adding “The monster will answer” for that crime, the BBC reported. In April 2015 Pavlov bragged to the Kiev Post he had killed 15 Ukrainian soldiers captured by rebels.
Rebel leader Alexander Zakharchenko, who calls himself the “prime minister of the Donetsk People’s Republic,” called the killing of Pavlov “terrorism” and added, “As I understand it, Petro Poroshenko has violated the cease-fire and declared war on us.”
It remains unclear who killed Pavlov. On Sunday,; a bomb exploded in the elevator of his Donetsk apartment building. His personal guard also died. A Ukrainian neo-Nazi group claimed credit for the bomb in an Internet video, but is being discounted by analysts.
Rebel troops led by the 33-year-old Pavlov participated in major offensives against the Ukrainian government at Ilovasik and at Donetsk airport in 2014. Pavlov was put on Ukraine’s wanted list for “creation of illegal paramilitary and military formations. The European Union also put him on its list of sanctioned individuals.