A Russian-appointed 'deputy head' of the Kherson region, labeled a traitor and wanted by Ukraine for treason, was killed in a car crash hours before Russian troops fled from the city. According to the region's governor's office, Kirill Stremousov, 45, was not killed in action but in a horrifying car crash.
Stremousov died after the Lexus he was traveling in was involved in a collision with a truck. According to Telegram networks supporting Putin's regime, his personal driver informed the @wargonzo project that the incident occurred close to Henichensk in Kherson. Stremousov was one of the most vocal proponents of Russia's full-scale invasion of Ukraine in late February.
Killed for His Deeds
Stremosov died on Wednesday, the same day Russia ordered a retreat from the west bank of the Dnipro River across the Kherson region in a dramatic setback for Moscow in the face of recent Ukrainian advances.
"Kirill Stremousov perished. This is a huge tragedy, an irreparable loss," Sergei Aksionov, the Kremlin-installed leader of Crimea, said on Telegram.
The Russian-appointed "leader" of Kherson, Vladimir Saldo, also made an announcement of his death in a Telegram post, writing: "It is very hard for me to say that Kirill Stremousov died today. He died on the territory of the Kherson region, moving in a car that got into an accident."
Stremousov played a key role in organizing and backing the referendum on Russia's illegitimate annexation of Kherson. Recently, as Ukrainian soldiers moved closer to the Dnipro River, he evacuated residents from Kherson's west bank.
The 45-year-old was wanted in Kiev for treason when he was appointed two months after the invasion of Ukraine.
A day before his death, Stremousov said: "Most residents who decided to stay in Kherson are only now beginning to realize the gravity of the situation and my warnings."
Stremousov frequently took to Telegram to describe Ukrainian officials and forces as "Nazis" and "fascists." However, he also criticized the Russian military's errors. He attributed the military failures in Kherson to "incompetent commanders" who weren't made to pay for their errors.
Russia Continues to Suffer
A Ukrainian official, however, raised doubt on the news of Stremousov's death. First Vice-President of the Kherson Regional Council of Ukraine, Yuriy Sobolevskyi, wrote on Telegram: "Regarding the information spread by the occupiers and Russian sources regarding the death of collaborator Kirill Stremousov in an accident, so far we can neither confirm nor deny the information. It may be true, or it may be staged."
Stremousov had a checkered career as a municipal politician in Kherson and was embroiled in numerous fracases. He also experimented with paganism and an odd variation of yoga. He was captured on camera in 2017 swinging his infant daughter by the feet.
Stremousov is hardly the first leader supported by Russia to pass away under mysterious circumstances. Alexander Zakharchenko, the leader of Russian-backed separatists, was killed in the bombing of a café in 2018. Before Russia's full-scale invasion of Ukraine, a number of rebel commanders were also assassinated in a series of unexplained killings.
Kherson is one of the four regions, along with Donetsk, Luhansk, and Zaporizhzhia, that Russia illegally annexed on September 30 following phony independence referendums. In recent days, Stremousov has been active on social media, imploring locals to migrate to areas controlled by Moscow.
He previously stated that the final day of centrally coordinated evacuations from Kherson city would be November 7. However, he was killed in the car crash the very next day.
Hours after his death, Shoigu ordered the withdrawal of Russian forces from the west bank of the Dnipro, Russian state media reported.
This would represent the war's most important military development since Ukrainian forces overran the northern Kharkiv region in September. Shoigu gave the command as Ukrainian soldiers march in two directions into the city of Kherson.
According to earlier reports from a local Ukrainian official and Russian military analyst on Telegram, Russian forces have also blown-up bridges that cross over the region of Kherson that is under occupation to the west of the Dnipro.
According to eyewitnesses, Putin's men have already left important checkpoints surrounding the city and demolished bridges in a blatant attempt to thwart Ukrainian soldiers' pursuit and capture of them.
The most humiliating defeat his troops has yet experienced was the loss of Kherson, the capital of a province Putin recently annexed to Russia, his only foothold west of the Dnipro River, and a crucial checkpoint on the route to Crimea.