Moscow said Wednesday that an election official had been killed by a car bomb in the Russian-controlled city of Berdyansk in southern Ukraine.

A number of Russian-installed officials have been targeted in apparent assassination attempts since Moscow launched its full-scale military operation in Ukraine two years ago.

Wednesday's attack, reported by Russia's Investigative Committee, comes ahead of presidential elections in Russia later this month that will be held in the five Ukrainian regions that the Kremlin claims to have annexed.

"In the morning of March 6, a homemade explosive device was planted under the vehicle of a member of the precinct election commission," the Investigative Committee said in a statement.

"The victim died from her injuries in a medical facility," the statement added.


The Moscow-installed head of the Zaporizhzhia region Yevgeny Balitsky blamed Ukrainian authorities for the attack and said it was an attempt by Kyiv to "intimidate" residents ahead of the ballot this month.

"They hope to prevent our legitimate expression of will, which is impossible," he added in a statement on social media.

Russia in 2022 claimed to have annexed the Zaporizhzhia region where the port city of Berdyansk is located along with the Donetsk, Lugansk and Kherson territories, despite not having full military control over them.

The vote will also be held in Crimea, which Russia annexed in 2014 after a referendum widely denounced as a sham.

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