03:04 GMT06 August 2021
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    DONETSK (Sputnik) - The farewell ceremony for the assassinated leader of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People's Republic (DPR), Alexander Zakharchenko, has begun in the republic's capital, a Sputnik correspondent reported on Sunday.

    A coffin with Zakharchenko's body has been put on display in the lobby of an opera and ballet theater in the city's center, not far from cafe Separ where he was killed in a bomb blast on Friday.

    A spokesperson for the city administration told Sputnik that over 120,000 people have come to bid farewell to the assassinated leader.

    "At the moment, according to the preliminary estimates, there are more than 120,000 people," the spokesperson said.

    According to the correspondent, while nearly all of the square in front of the theater is already filled with people, residents continue coming to the ceremony and laying flowers near the cafe.

    ​The ceremony is being attended by the DPR's Defense Minister Vladimir Kononov and the republic's acting leader, Dmitry Trapeznikov.

    The DPR's foreign ministry told Sputnik that Russian, South Ossetian, and Abkhaz delegations had also arrived for the ceremony. They went to the theater to honor Zakharchenko's memory and then visited what was left of cafe Separ.

    "Delegations from the Republic of South Ossetia, the Republic of Abkhazia and Russia visited the place where the DPR's leader, Alexander Zakharchenko, died and commemorated him with a moment of silence," the ministry's spokesperson said.

    A Sputnik correspondent reported that the ceremony was, in particular, attended by South Ossetian President Anatoly Bibilov, head of the Republic of Crimea Sergei Aksyonov and Russian lawmaker Natalya Poklonskaya.

    Alexander Zakharchenko memorial service. 2018
    © Sputnik / Igor Msalov
    Alexander Zakharchenko memorial service. 2018

    DPR's Finance Minister and Deputy Prime Minister Alexander Timofeev, who accompanied Zakharchenko to the cafe, sustained severe injuries but is already in a stable condition. Despite his recent wound, Timofeev also came to bid farewell to the DPR head.

    Zakharchenko's adviser Alexander Kazakov said on Saturday that the leader had been killed by a shell-less explosive device that detonated when Zakharchenko entered the cafe. The blast also instantly killed Zakharchenko's bodyguard, who entered the cafe before the republic's leader, injuring a total of 11 people, according to the DPR authorities.

    ​DPR's Finance Minister and Deputy Prime Minister Alexander Timofeev, who accompanied Zakharchenko to the cafe, sustained severe injuries but is now in stable condition.

    READ MORE: Zakharchenko's Murder Organized by Ukraine's Special Operations Forces — Adviser

    According to Trapeznikov, several suspects in the case have already been detained and admitted that the assassination was "Ukrainian sabotage." Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova also said that there was really no doubt that Ukraine was behind the assassination, however, Kiev has denied any involvement in the murder.

    On Friday, Russian President Vladimir Putin expressed condolences over the death of Zakharchenko. He also stated that he hoped the organizers and perpetrators of the attack would be found and punished.


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