Time News Desk: Russia could do something particularly ‘cruel’ during the upcoming week as Ukraine marks 31 years of independence, Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky has warned.
The capital Kyiv announced a ban on public gatherings, and Kharkiv declared a curfew around Wednesday’s independence holiday, which this year will also mark six months since the start of the Russian invasion.
‘Russia could try to do something particularly disgusting, particularly cruel,’ Zelensky said in his nightly address late Saturday.
‘One of the key objectives of the enemy is to humiliate us,’ and ‘to sow despondency, fear and conflict’ but ‘we have to be strong enough to resist all provocation’ and ‘make the occupiers pay for their terror,’ he said.
Ukraine’s Independence Day on Wednesday, August 24, will also mark six months since Russia invaded the former Soviet republic.
There has been speculation that Russia will put Ukrainian fighters captured during the siege of Mariupol on a public trial to coincide with the independence anniversary.
A presidential adviser, Mykhaylo Podolyak said that Russia could intensify its bombing campaign.
‘Russia is an archaic state that links its actions to certain dates, it’s an obsession of sorts,’ the Interfax-Ukraine news agency quoted him as saying.
‘They hate us and will try to increase the number of bombings of our cities including Kyiv with cruise missiles,’ Podolyak said.
Kyiv authorities on Sunday banned public gatherings from August 22 to August 25.
In the northeastern city of Kharkiv, the regional governor announced a curfew from the evening of August 23 to the morning of August 25.
‘We will not allow any provocation by the enemy. Be as vigilant as possible during our independence holiday,’ Oleg Synegubov wrote on Telegram.
Kharkiv has been under regular Russian bombardment for weeks and on Sunday emergency services said a woman was killed and two other civilians were wounded in overnight strikes.
Four civilians were reported killed by Russian fire in Donetsk, said the region’s pro-Kyiv governor, Pavlo Kyrylenko.
Five cruise missiles were fired at Odessa from the Black Sea, a regional administration spokesman said. Two were shot down by air defences and three hit a silo without causing injury.
The Ukrainian army said on Facebook that Russian forces occupied part of the Blagodatne town in the southern Mykolaiv region.
Meanwhile, the daughter of Alexander Dugin, a hardline Russian ideologue close to president Vladimir Putin, has been killed in a car bombing on Moscow’s outskirts, authorities said on Sunday.
According to family members quoted by Russian media, Dugin a vocal supporter of Kremlin’s offensive in Ukraine was the likely target of the blast as his daughter borrowed his car at the last minute.
Daria Dugina was killed when a bomb placed in the Toyota Land Cruiser went off as she drove on a highway near the village of Bolshie Vyzyomy, some 40 kilometres outside Moscow, Russia’s Investigative Committee said in a statement.
Dugina, a journalist born in 1992 who herself openly supported the offensive, died on the scene and a homicide investigation has been opened, said the committee, which probes major crime cases in Russia.
In July Britain put her on a list of sanctioned Russians for allegedly spreading online disinformation about Ukraine.
Dugin, 60, sometimes called ‘Putin’s Rasputin’ or ‘Putin’s brain,’ is an outspoken Russian ultranationalist intellectual.
He has long advocated the unification of Russian-speaking territories in a vast new Russian empire and wholeheartedly supported Moscow’s operation in Ukraine.
He was put on a Western sanctions list after Russia annexed Crimea in 2014, a move he also backed.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the bombing.
The head of one of Ukraine’s breakaway separatist regions blamed the blast on Kyiv authorities.
‘The Ukrainian regime terrorists tried to liquidate Alexander Dugin, but blew up his daughter,’ DNR chief Denis Pushilin wrote on Telegram.
Russian foreign ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova wrote on Telegram that ‘if the Ukrainian theory is confirmed... and it must be verified by competent authorities, it will amount to state terrorism on the part of the Kyiv regime.’