Partisans operating in the Sevastopol area have told the Kyiv Post that the Russian-installed Crimean administration has received orders from the Kremlin to begin attacking the reputation of the commander of the Russian Black Sea Fleet (BSF), Viktor Sokolov.

 

“Rozvozhaev [Russian appointed governor of Sevastopol] brought an order from Moscow on the need to spread rumors that the commander of the Black Sea Fleet Sokolov conspired with the Defense Forces of Ukraine to destroy its headquarters,” according to a representative of the ATESH partisan movement.

 

According to the picture being painted at Moscow’s behest, Sokolov had arranged the attack to cover up the fact that he and his deputy were responsible for the theft of food products because audit inspections were planned and he was concerned he would be caught.

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ATESH also said that the Sevastopol administration had been instructed not to provide real data on casualties among the military.

 

The partisans said: “Such actions of the invaders are additional evidence that the commander Sokolov was disposed of or seriously wounded.”

 

On Tuesday, Russian media published a video of the meeting of the Russian Ministry of Defense senior board, during which images of Sokolov appeared by video link. Ukrainian officials and partisans, however, doubt the authenticity of this virtual appearance.

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The representative of ATESH in exclusive comments with Kyiv Post says that “now it is difficult to say for sure, while various messages come to us.

 

“Some of our sources report that he is 200 [dead], others that he is alive. However, all agree that now he is nowhere to be seen. Apart from the dubious appearance at the meeting with Shoigu yesterday.”

 

Kyiv Post could not independently verify the claims made by ATESH.

 

Anonymous Russian telegram channels began posting videos on Wednesday morning purporting to show Sokolov attending a Chernomorets football match and speaking to the press.

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However, the Crimean monitoring group found this had been posted on the official website of the Russian Ministry of Defense on Sept. 18, four days before the missile strike on the BSF headquarters.

 

On searching the website, Kyiv Post journalists found that the video had been taken down.

 

But the representative of the partisan movement stressed that previously “they began to very actively promote the fact that he was alive and unharmed.”

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