“During a brutal shelling [sic] of a bakery in [Lysychansk], the Minister of Emergency Situations of the [Luhansk] People’s Republic, Colonel Alexey Aleksandrovich Poteleshchenko, was killed,” said Pasechnik, the Moscow-appointed head of the region wrote on Telegram.

Two municipal deputies were also killed in the attack, Kremlin-designated Mayor Eduard Sakhnenko said in a social media post.

Russia blamed Ukraine for the Feb. 3 attack wherein a two-story bakery building was struck and collapsed as a result. Russia claimed the attack killed 28 civilians, including 18 men, 9 women and 1 child.

Russia released images of an almost completely destroyed building, with rescuers combing the rubble in the dark.

The one-story building had a large sign on it that read “Restaurant Adriatic.”

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Russia said Saturday that Ukraine had used Western weapons in the strike and said it expected “unconditional condemnation” from the international community.

Kyiv officials have not commented on the attack at the time of publication.

However, Advisor to the exiled Mayor of Mariupol Piotr Andryushchenko countered Russia’s claims and said it was a restaurant adjacent to the bakery frequented by collaborators that was hit instead, and that the bakery has already resumed operations.

“At the end of the week, late in the evening, heavenly punishment visited [Lysychansk] in a restaurant near a bakery, where the top collaborators had already celebrated two birthdays.

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Sources told Kyiv Post that various brands of gasoline and diesel fuel with a total volume of 12.5 thousand cubic meters were stored there.

“Yes, the bakery is nearby, but intact. But the Kolobornata restaurant is not. As well as ‘Minister of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of the LPR’ Oleksiy Oleksandrovich Poteleshchenko, who in 2014 switched to the side of the occupiers,” said Andryushchenko in a Telegram announcement.

Russian propagandist Anastasia Kashevarova also said a birthday party for a high-ranking LPR official took place at the time of the incident, and there were numerous security personnel on the premises.

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“The blow to the bakery in [Lysychansk] is not just a blow. Nearby there was a birthday celebration for a high-ranking person. There were a lot of security forces,” said Kashevarova in a Telegram announcement.

Journalist Denis Kazansky said locals likely gave up the location of the meeting to Ukrainian authorities due to hatred for the occupation regime.

Poteleshchenko, the minister reportedly killed in the strike, was born in Odesa in 1976. He served in the so-called people’s militia of LPR between 2014 and 2016 and became the head of the Ministry of Emergency Situations sometime later.

Poteleshchenko fought in militia units for pro-Russian separatists against Ukraine before being appointed to the government post, Pasechnik said.

Additional content provided by AFP.

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