(by Christopher Miller – rferl.org) – A bomb has exploded in a car in the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv, killing one man and injuring two other people in what police suspect is the fourth targeted car bombing in just over a year.
Police and witnesses on September 8 identified the man as Timur Makhauri, a Chechen with Georgian citizenship.
Police and several people who knew Makhauri claimed he was a member of a Ukrainian volunteer battalion who fought against Russia-backed separatists in the country’s war-racked east.
The claim could not be immediately verified.
Artem Shevchenko, a spokesman for the Ukrainian Interior Ministry, told RFE/RL that Makhauri ran in “criminal circles” and was “not an example of a law-abiding citizen.”
Shevchenko added that a criminal case had been opened into the incident, with charges likely to include “premeditated murder committed using a publicly dangerous method.”
Makhauri was reportedly arrested in January near the spot where he died in connection with a spate of car robberies and for illegal possession of weapons.
Timerhan Minayev, who said he served with Makhauri in a volunteer battalion, told reporters with Ukraine’s Channel 112 television that Makharui had survived several prior assassination attempts.
Police said Makhauri died when his black Toyota Camry with Georgian plates exploded in rush-hour traffic near the posh Arena City entertainment complex at 6:10 p.m. The bomb was planted in his car, a police official said.
A woman was hospitalized with serious injuries, while a child of 5 to 10 years of age was in satisfactory condition. Police said they were not related to Makhauri.
An RFE/RL correspondent at the site reported that police, security officials, and bomb experts had roped off the mangled vehicle at the intersection of Basseyna and Velyka Vasylkivska streets.
Traffic was stopped for blocks as investigators combed through debris.
Dozens of shocked onlookers and journalists hovered nearby on what is one of the capital’s busiest street corners, lined with luxury shops and swanky clubs.
There have been at least three targeted car bombings in Ukraine in the past 14 months that killed two Security Service officials and a prominent journalist, Pavel Sheremet.
Ukrainian government forces are battling Russia-backed separatists in eastern Ukraine, a conflict that has killed more than 10,000 people since April 2014.