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Ukraine: Well-wishers pay tribute to slain rebel leader Givi

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Ukraine: Well-wishers pay tribute to slain rebel leader Givi

Admirers lined up in separatist-held Donetsk on Friday to pay their final respects to Mikhail Tolstykh, the latest pro-Russian rebel leader to be killed in eastern Ukraine.

Known as Givi, he died in an explosion in his office in the city on Wednesday.

Authorities of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic said Tolstykh died in a terrorist act and vowed revenge.

Ukrainian security services deny any involvement, blaming a string of assassinations on in-fighting in rebel ranks.

Nearly 2,000 well-wishers lined up to file past the commander’s coffin at Donetsk Opera House.

Tolstykh first gained notoriety when rebels won the battle for Donetsk airport.

He was also filmed inflicting barbaric treatment on Ukrainian prisoners.

“I have huge respect for our defenders, our guys at the frontline who don’t let fascists come here. That is why I am here,” said Tatyana, one woman in the queue.

The European Union, deeply concerned about the recent flare-up of hostilities in and around the government-held industrial town of Avdiyivka, welcomed Ukraine’s Prime Minister Volodymyr Groysman to Brussels on Friday.

“We have all seen the big tragedy that has unfolded because of pro-Russian separatist bombardments of the town which has not been protected at all from a security point of view and in which 25,000 civilians are living,” Groysman said.

In the space of a week, more than 30 civilians and soldiers were killed in Avdiyivka and along the front line in renewed fighting in eastern Ukraine, with the two-year-old Minsk ceasefire deal looking more fragile than ever.