Former Russian MP Denis Voronenkov has been shot dead in Kiev in what the Ukrainian president described as an “act of state terrorism” by Russia. The accusation was quickly rejected by the Kremlin.
Ukrainian president Petro Poroshenko said Mr Voronenkov’s killing “clearly shows the handwriting of Russian special services shown repeatedly in various European capitals in the past”. Mr Poroshenko described the victim as a key witness who gave testimony about “Russian aggression” to the Ukrainian authorities.
Russian president Vladimir Putin’s spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, dismissed the claim of Russian involvement in the killing as “absurd”. Mr Voronenkov, 45, a former member of the communist faction in the lower house of Russian parliament, had moved to Ukraine last autumn and had been granted Ukrainian citizenship.
He testified to Ukrainian investigators as part of their probe into the activities of the nation’s former Russia-friendly president, Viktor Yanukovych, who was ousted by massive protests in February 2014. Mr Voronenkov, who had obediently toed the Kremlin line while serving as an MP, became a vociferous critic of Russian policies after his move to Kiev.
Ukrainian police said Mr Voronenkov was shot dead by an unidentified gunman near the entrance of an upmarket hotel in the Ukrainian capital. The assailant also wounded Mr Voronenkov’s bodyguard, who fired back and wounded the gunman. Police said they were both taken to hospital.
Mr Voronenkov left Russia with his wife, the singer Maria Maksakova, who was also an MP. He said he had to leave Russia because of persecution by Russian security agencies and had renounced his Russian citizenship.
After Mr Voronenkov’s move to Ukraine, Russian investigators filed fraud charges against him in connection with his business activities.
Members of the Russian parliament were quick to reject Ukrainian allegations that Mr Voronenkov could have been killed over any betrayal of Russia. Nikolai Kovalyov, the former Russian security chief who is now an MP, told Russian state TV that the killing could have been rooted in a business dispute.
Mr Peskov said that Mr Putin was informed about Mr Voronenkov’s killing and voiced hope that Ukrainian authorities would solve the crime. He added that Mr Voronenkov’s widow was welcome to return to Russia.