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The CEO of leading Ukrainian agribusiness Nibulon has been killed during Russian aerial bombardement of the southern Ukrainian city of Mykolaiv, World Grain reports.

Oleksiy Vadaturskyy and his wife, Raisa, were killed when a missile struck their home on 31 July.

An adviser to Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky told the Kyviv Post that Vadaturskyy had been deliberately targeted.

One of the richest businessmen in Ukraine, Vadaturskyy founded Nibulon – one of the country’s largest agricultural companies – in 1991 and turned it into a major player in the global grain industry, World Grain wrote on 2 August.

“Vadaturskyy was one of the largest farmers in the country, a key person in the region and a large employer,” Podolyak told the Kyviv Post. “The accurate hitting of the missile, not just in the house, but in a specific wing — the bedroom — leaves no doubts about the guidance and adjustment of the impact… Vadaturskyy was made a specific target.”

The attack, which caused damage throughout the city, came nine days after Russia and Ukraine signed a brokered agreement aimed at easing Russia’s naval blockade of Ukrainian’s Black Sea ports to allow the country’s grain to be shipped, World Grain wrote. The first shipment left the Port of Odessa on 1 August.

Former People’s Deputy Ihor Mosiychuk told the Post that Vadaturskyy, who was also the vice president of the Ukrainian Grain Association, had been developing alternative ways of exporting Ukrainian grain, bypassing Odessa’s blockaded ports, World Grain reported.

With an annual turnover of approximately US$700M, Nibulon was among the 20 largest companies in Ukraine, exporting almost 1M tonnes/year of grain prior to Russia’s invasion of the country on 24 February.

According to its website, Nibulon operates throughout most regions of Ukraine and its activities include grain and oilseed processing, storage and shipment.

It runs its own fleet, has a total grain storage capacity of 2.25M tonnes and operates a network of 27 trans-shipment terminals and grain and oilseeds complexes in the country.

Nibulon has gained ISCC certification to export corn, rapeseed, soyabean, sunflower and wheat to the European Union (EU) as raw materials for biofuel production. Barley is exported to the EU under the ISCC PLUS certificate for feed use.

On its website, the company paid tribute to Vadaturskyy with a statement saying “Nibulon’s team as well as the whole of Ukraine have faced an irreparable loss”. The company added that Nibulon would continue to operate normally.