KYIV -- The former "mayor" of Horlivka, a town in the Donetsk region controlled by Russia-backed separatists, is a Ukrainian military intelligence agent.
A spokesman for the Ukrainian Defense Ministry's military intelligence, Vadym Skibitskiy, said on November 25 that Eduard Matyukha had provided Kyiv with information on the situation in the territories Ukraine doesn’t control in the eastern region of Donetsk for five years.
Matyukha said the day before that he returned to Ukraine-controlled territory after carrying out intelligence activities in separatist-controlled Horlivka, an industrial town that had a prewar population of approximately 267,000 people.
Matyukha was briefly mayor for an unspecified period because a conflict erupted between rival militant groups that was partly one of his alleged assignments to cause.
However, he gained the trust of the pro-Russian separatists and became the first secretary of the Communist Party in Horlivka, Skibitskiy said.
He managed to establish contacts with the Communist Party of Russia and through those links managed to clarify their role in Russia's policy toward Ukraine's eastern regions of Donetsk and Luhansk, where some districts have been controlled by the separatists since April 2014.
Kyiv-Moscow relations have been tense since Russia annexed Ukraine's Crimean Peninsula and incited separatism in the east, where more than 13,000 people have been killed in the ongoing conflict since 2014.
Before the war and until November 2013, Matyukha was the first deputy mayor of Horlivka.