World Europe 23 Mar 2017 Russia ex-MP killed ...

Russia ex-MP killed in Kiev, Ukraine blames 'state terrorism'

AFP
Published Mar 23, 2017, 7:56 pm IST
Updated Mar 23, 2017, 7:57 pm IST
Kiev police chief Kryshchenko confirmed the identity of the dead man as former Communist lawmaker Denis Voronenkov.
Ukrainian police said Voronenkov was shot dead Thursday by an unidentified gunman at the entrance of an upscale hotel in the Ukrainian capital. (Photo: AP)
 Ukrainian police said Voronenkov was shot dead Thursday by an unidentified gunman at the entrance of an upscale hotel in the Ukrainian capital. (Photo: AP)

Kiev: A former Russian MP wanted by Moscow for fraud was shot dead in broad daylight in the heart of the Ukrainian capital on Thursday in what Kiev branded "state terrorism".

Kiev police chief Andriy Kryshchenko confirmed in televised comments that "the identity of the dead man has been established" as former Communist lawmaker Denis Voronenkov.

 

Police were weighing the possibility that Voronenkov, a 45-year-old Kremlin critic, was targeted in a contract killing "considering the identity of the victim, his activities and how the crime was carried out," Kryshchenko said.

Voronenkov's bodyguard and the gunman were both injured in the shootout that occurred at around 3:00 am (0930 GMT) in the centre of Kiev.

They were both being treated in hospital, Kryshchenko said, adding that the gunman's identity had yet to be established.

Voronenkov's murder comes as Moscow and Kiev remain locked in a bitter feud over Russia's annexation of Crimea in March 2014 and its support of a pro-Russian insurgency in eastern Ukraine.

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko blamed Russia for what he said was a "cunning murder", saying Voronenkov's killing was an "act of state terrorism", his spokesman Svyatoslav Tsegolko wrote on Facebook.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov swiftly dismissed Kiev's accusations as "absurd" in comments to Russian news agencies, adding that Moscow "hopes that the killer and those behind him will be found".

Russian foreign ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said at a briefing that Moscow was "shocked" by Voronenkov's murder and thought it indeed looked like a "planned contract killing", Russian news agencies reported.

Voronenkov and his wife Maria Maksakova, also a former lawmaker and a well-known opera singer, left Russia for Ukraine last year.

Voronenkov, who had been critical of Moscow's annexation of Crimea, received Ukrainian citizenship in December after he testified against Ukraine's ex-President Viktor Yanukovych, who was ousted in February 2014 amid pro-Western protests.

Voronenkov told Ukrainian media in February that he had repeatedly received threats from Russian security services.

Russia's powerful Investigative Committee is investigating Voronenkov's role in alleged fraud dating back to 2010 involving a building in Moscow.

Kryshchenko said that Voronenkov had sustained "three or four gunshot wounds to the stomach and neck" but that the shooter had fired his weapon seven or eight times.

Ilya Ponomaryov, a former Russian opposition lawmaker who has been in exile since 2014, wrote on Facebook that Voronenkov had been killed on his way to meet him.

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Location: Ukraine, Kiova, Kyiv




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