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Hitman who assassinated OPLOT MMA gym owner identified

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Russian authorities have identified the hitman who killed Evgeny Zhilin, the founder of the OPLOT opposition militia that disguised itself as an MMA promotion. 

The Investigative Committee of Russian Moscow has identified the hitman who killed Evgeny Zhilin, the leader of the Ukrainian opposition militia and MMA promotion, OPLOT, back in September 2016.

According to reports, the hitman is a Ukrainian citizen named Nikolay Didkovsky. He became a suspect after authorities found “irrefutable evidence” that the crime had been committed by him. The report also confirmed that Didkovsky is wanted criminal and is currently on the run from law enforcement, potentially outside of Russia.

Evgeny Zhilin was a retired police captain and former Interior Minister officer who was placed in the wanted list in 2015 following a number of political cases related to his opposition militia, as well as ficticious financial endeavours and money-laundering schemes. He is best known as the founder of OPLOT, an opposition militia that operated for years as an MMA promotion. OPLOT, which stood for ’Stronghold,’ also included a security agency, a charity, a law firm, and even a supermarket.

In order to legitimize his promotion, Zhilin brought in heavyweight Alexey Oleinik, who is contracted to fight for the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC), as a team leader for their MMA promotion. The promotion’s mission statement was to create a platform for Ukrainian fighters and host national MMA events that showcased its finest talents. However, Oplot’s socio-political ideals were present within its official mandate:

”We believe in the healthy upbringing of the youth, for them to distinguish strong from weak, worthy from the unworthy, imaginary from the real. We are for healthy nationalism, for the development of the Ukrainian people to landmarks in the life of the people were not money, glamor, parties and imaginary. Benchmarks should be the honor, dignity and a healthy lifestyle, patriotism, respect to the exploits of our ancestors, the well-being of our society have been the cornerstone of our actions.”

By 2014, Oplot was notoriously known as a vicious militia and was targeted by anti-Russian radicals. Their fight club headquarters was burned down and many were arrested and charged with various criminal offences. The leader of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic at the time, Alexander Zakharchenko, acknowledged that OPLOT was involved in attacks on civilians, and condemned their approach. With little support from either side, the organization began to lose influence, though those who were a part of it remained notable figures.

By September 2016, Zhilin, who still operated as the head of the OPLOT pro-Russian militant group in eastern Ukraine, was shot dead at an elite restaurant in Moscow’s suburbs. While it remains unclear why Zhilin was targeted in Russia, reports have alluded to business conflicts with Ukrainian oligarchs and the Donetsk People’s Republic.

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