(ANTIMEDIA) Former Russian lawmaker Denis Voronenkov was gunned down Thursday in broad daylight outside a hotel in Kiev in what the Ukrainian president is calling “an act of state terrorism” carried out by Russia. Voronenkov was a key witness in a treason case against former Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovych.
According to police, the assailant died in the hospital shortly after being shot in the head and chest by one of Voronenkov’s bodyguards. The killer’s identity has not yet been released, but the Ukrainian president said the shooting “clearly shows the handwriting of Russian special services shown repeatedly in various European capitals in the past.”
Denis Voronenkov had fled to the Ukraine with his wife, renouncing his Russian citizenship due to persecution by Russian security agencies. Granted Ukrainian citizenship, he agreed to help authorities build a treason case against Yanukovych, who had been voted out of office in 2014 amid massive civil unrest. According to Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko:
“Voronenkov was one of the main witnesses of Russian aggression against Ukraine and, in particular, the role of Yanukovich regarding the deployment of Russian troops to Ukraine.”
Voronenkov was also very vocal about his opposition to Russia’s annexation of Crimea in 2014 despite having voted in favor of the decision at the time. He was on his way to meet the only member of the Duma who voted against the annexation of Crimea when he was gunned down. Ilya Ponomarev, also a former Russian parliamentarian, wrote the following on Facebook about Voronenkov:
“There’s an obvious theory – I’ve said that Voronenkov wasn’t a crook, but a deadly dangerous investigator for Russian officials.”
In a statement broadcast to Russian news agencies, spokesman for President Putin, Dmitry Peskov, called the accusation “absurd,” and Russian Foreign Ministry Maria Zakharova stated Kiev’s “killer regime will do its best to make sure no one ever knows what happened.” Zakharova also expressed shock that the Ukrainian president would hurl the accusation before police had even finished inspecting the crime scene.
Ukraine’s General Prosecutor Yuriy Lutsenko called the shooting a “cynical murder,” saying:
“He had provided investigators of the military prosecutor’s office with highly important (witness) testimony for the case. This was a typical show execution of a witness by the Kremlin.”