In this photo taken on May 10, 2014, Valery Bolotov, people â
The pro-Russian self-proclaimed governor of the eastern Ukrainian city of Luhansk survived an assassination attempt on Tuesday, his press office says.
Valery Bolotov, who calls himself the "Luhansk People's Governor," was shot by unidentified assailants using automatic weapons while he traveled in a car, a spokesperson for the pro-Russian separatist group says.
"He has a gunshot wound," Luhansk People's Republic spokesperson Vasily Nikitin tells Russian state media. "Bolotov is in [the] hospital now; his life is not in danger," the spokesperson said, hinting to Interfax that the hit was ordered by the authorities in Kiev. However, this is unconfirmed.
“We believe that an attack on Bolotov was Kyiv’s response to the people’s referendum, whose results we announced yesterday. From today, his first deputy, Hennady Tserkalov, is in charge,” Nikitin said, according to a translation from the Kyiv Post.
The shooting comes one day after Luhansk's separatists held a referendum, which wasn't recognized by neither Kiev nor the U.S., in which 96% of those who voted chose sovereignty for the region.
Bolotov said voters "have chosen that path that has enabled the formation of an independent state, the Luhansk People's Republic."Bolotov said voters "have chosen that path that has enabled the formation of an independent state, the Luhansk People's Republic."
While stopping short of calling for Moscow to annex the region, Bolotov said Ukraine's May 25 presidential election would not be held in Luhansk.
Luhansk's pro-Kiev interim regional governor Iryna Verygina, however, said late Sunday night that the referendum had failed.
"We can strongly state now that Luhansk Oblast has said firmly 'No!' to the illegal 'referendum' of so called 'Luhansk People's Republic.'," she said, adding that most people in the region had boycotted the vote.