Denis Voronenkov was shot dead as he walked the streets of Kiev, Ukraine according to police. Voronenkov and a security guard were killed at the entrance of an upmarket hotel in the Ukrainian capital just days after Voronenkov claimed his life was in danger.
“For our personal safety, we can’t let them know where we are,” Voronenkov said Monday evening during an interview with The Washington Post.
The assassination has been confirmed by Kiev’s police chief, Andriy Grishchenko. The killer was fatally injured by the security guard before being taken in to police custody. The attacker succumbed to his wounds before being identified by police.
The 45-year-old lawmaker was a former member of the communist faction in the lower house of the Russian parliament. He was one of the most outspoken former members in recent Russian history. He openly criticized Putin and brazenly compared his government to “Nazi Germany.” He renounced his Russian citizenship after fleeing the country in 2016.
Anton Herashchenko, an adviser to the Ukrainian Interior Ministry, is one of many that believe the attack was driven by politics.
“It is an ordered political murder, made for the purpose of intimidating all those Russian deputies and officials who try to escape from Russia to the West or to Ukraine.” he told reporters.
Voronenkov was a key witness in a treason case against deposed Ukrainian president and Putin ally, Viktor Yanukovych. Herashchenko believes Voronenkov was killed for his role in the trial.
“He was killed in retaliation for the fact that he and his wife gave truthful testimony about how the annexation of the Crimea and the attack on the Donbass was prepared.” he said.
Police sources in Kiev have told the the Daily Star that Russian secret services may be behind the shooting. The Kremlin has released a statement denying any involvement, saying the accusations are “absurd.”