Oleg Tsaryov: Pro-Russia former Ukrainian politician shot and wounded in Crimea attack

A pro-Russia politician has been shot and wounded in a late-night attack in Crimea, family and officials have said.

Russia's top investigative body said it had opened a criminal inquiry into the attempt on Oleg Tsaryov's life in Yalta.

Mr Tsaryov is a Ukrainian who formerly served as a member of parliament.

It comes after the assassinations of several other prominent pro-Moscow figures since the start of Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

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"Around midnight he was shot twice on the premises of the sanatorium where he lives," said a post on Mr Tsaryov's Telegram account, citing the family.

"When the ambulance arrived, Oleg was unconscious and had lost a lot of blood."

A Russian-installed official in southern Ukraine, Vladimir Rogov, said Mr Tsaryov was in intensive care.

Three sources familiar with Russia's post-invasion plans told Reuters last year that Moscow had been looking to Mr Tsaryov to head a puppet government in Kyiv if it had succeeded in ousting President Volodymyr Zelenskyy in the first days of the war in February 2022.

But Mr Tsaryov, who runs hotels in Crimea - a peninsula which Russia annexed from Ukraine in 2014 - said the Reuters account had "very little to do with reality".

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The 53-year-old was previously a speaker of the parliament of "Novorossiya" (New Russia), an entity formed after Russian-backed separatists in eastern Ukraine broke away in 2014.

Mr Tsaryov has been placed under sanctions by Ukraine, the United States and several other Western countries.

Andriy Yusov, a spokesman for Ukraine's military intelligence agency, was asked about the shooting on television and said: "We won't comment in too much detail yet, that's too much of an honour for him.

"But yes, there is such information. I can't say we're following his health very closely, but we are following."

He added: "When there is information that his body temperature has fallen below 36.6, there will definitely be a statement."

Mr Tsaryov is listed as a "traitor to the motherland" by Myrotvorets ("Peacemaker"), a vast unofficial Ukrainian database of people considered to be enemies of the country.

Several pro-war Russian figures in the Myrotvorets database have been assassinated since the conflict began, including journalist Darya Dugina, war blogger Vladlen Tatarsky and former submarine commander Stanislav Rzhitsky.

Ms Dugina and Mr Tatarsky were both blown up by bombs, while Mr Rzhitsky was shot dead while on an early morning run.