LONDON (Reuters) – The deputy head of the Russian-installed administration in Ukraine’s occupied Kherson region on Friday dismissed reports that the administration’s head, Volodymyr Saldo, had suffered a stroke and was in a coma.
In a statement on Telegram, Kirill Stremousov said the reports were “part of Ukraine’s information war against Russia”, although he confirmed Saldo was ill and said he was “resting”.
Russian state-run broadcaster RT had previously reported that Saldo, a former mayor of the city of Kherson who was appointed to lead the region of the same name when Russian troops overran it in early March, was in a coma and was for life.
The region is part of a part of Ukraine occupied by Russia and stretches north and east from the annexed Crimean peninsula along the northern coast of the Sea of Azov to the Russian border.
Ukraine has said it will launch a counter-offensive in the Kherson region and has carried out attacks on Russian supply lines and ammunition dumps in the area. In June, a senior official in the Russian-backed administration was killed in a bomb explosion that his colleagues blamed on Ukraine.
Moscow says it was forced to take control of parts of Ukraine to prevent persecution of Russian speakers and fend off a Western threat to use Ukraine to threaten Russia’s security.
Kyiv and its Western allies say these are baseless pretexts for an imperial land grab.
(Reporting by Reuters; Editing by Kevin Liffey)