The head of a militant group that backs the pro-Russian insurgency in eastern Ukraine has been shot dead in a restaurant in Moscow according to reports on Tuesday 20 September.

Witnesses said that an unidentified attacker wearing a Panama hat, false moustache and yellow-tinted sunglasses gunned down Yevgeny Zhilin in the Veterok restaurant in the prestigious Gorki-2 complex, based in the Moscow suburbs.

Russia's Interfax news agency reported that the shooter had been waiting for Zhilin inside the restaurant. His motives remain unclear, but the news agency said investigators are looking into the possibility it may have been part of a dispute with a business rival.

Andrei Kozar, Zhilin's bodyguard, who was left injured in the attack, told Life News from hospital: "We sat down, ordered tea, and then the killer came over and put a few shots into him and me."

Zhilin, 40, founded the pro-Russian Ukrainian organisation Oplot in 2010 in the city of Kharkiv. The group went on to form a key part of the so-called "Anti-Maidan" counter movement to the Ukrainian Euromaidan revolution in the winter of 2013-2014.

Some of its members were shown to have taken part in clashes against Maidan activists in Kiev and assaults on pro-Ukrainian rallies in Kharkiv.

Zhilin and Oplot initially had the support of Kharkiv authorities, but were forced to flee to Russia in the spring of 2014. Zhilin had been accused by Ukrainian law enforcement of crimes which included kidnapping and torture.