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Grenade attack against Lviv mayor signals expansion of conflict

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Robert Jordan for Southeast European Times | 2014-08-04

Ukraine’s separatists are expanding the conflict outside of the breakaway Donetsk and Lugansk provinces by launching a rocket-propelled grenade attack on the home of the mayor of the western city of Lviv, Andriy Sadovy.

Law-enforcement officials in Lviv and in the capital Kiev don’t know yet whether the attack was an isolated incident or the first volley in a new separatist strategy of using terror against its enemies outside the war zone.

Police in Lviv are treating it as an act of terrorism rather than as a personal grudge against Sadovy, according to Lviv National University associate economics professor Yaroslav Prytula, who is well connected in the city.

Sadovy suggested at a news conference that he thought it was a terrorist attack, too.

“Our country is at war,” said the mayor, who added that he has had no personal conflicts with anyone that would have been bad enough to precipitate an attempt on his life.

“My greatest joy is my family,” he said. “Thank God we were not in the house at the time.” Many separatists resent the fact that hundreds of protesters from Lviv, which has long been a pro-European rather than a pro-Russian city, took part in the Kiev protests that ousted President Viktor Yanukovich in February. The demonstrations erupted when Yanukovich, under Russian pressure, scrapped a treaty that would have brought Ukraine closer to the EU.

Like many Lviv residents, Sadovy had made no secret about his pro-EU leanings and his support for this year’s Kiev uprisings.

An indication the night-time grenade attack was a terrorist act “was that the Lviv Police Department fielded about 10 bomb-hoax calls in the hours beforehand,” Prytula said. “They traced those calls to phones in Donbass,” the region that encompasses Donetsk and Lugansk provinces, he said.

“They were trying to scare the population,” the professor said.

The week before the Lviv attack, law enforcement authorities in Kiev received a raft of bomb-hoax calls, he said. Separatists despise the capital because many of its residents rose up against Yanukovich and because the war effort against them is headquartered there.

The grenade attack, which came when the mayor and his family were away on vacation, occurred on the same day — June 26th — when a lone gunman with a silencer killed Oleh Babayev, mayor of the central Ukrainian city of Kremenchug.

Although Babayev called for Yanukovich’s ouster when some of the Kiev protesters were killed in January of this year, his murder may stem from his business dealings rather than terrorism, according to Sergey Kulyasov, the owner of the Kremenchug Telegraf. Many mayors in Ukraine use their positions to bolster their business positions.

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