Denis Voronenkov, who’d been a Communist member of Russia’s decrease legislative home earlier than he left, was fatally shot outdoors a resort in broad daylight, and a suspect is in custody, officers mentioned.
Voronenkov turns into the newest in a string of Russian critics of President Vladimir Putin and the Russian authorities who had been killed or injured in mysterious circumstances.
Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko referred to as Thursday’s killing a “Russian state terrorist act” on Twitter, and described Voronenkov as “one of many key witnesses of the Russian aggression in opposition to Ukraine” — referring to Russia’s 2014 annexation of Ukraine’s Crimea region and a subsequent war with pro-Russian rebels.
Poroshenko’s accusation drew a pointy rebuke from Moscow. Any claims that Russia is linked to the killing are “absurd,” Putin spokesman Dmitry Peskov mentioned, in response to Russian state-run TASS information company.
Voronenkov had denounced Russia’s 2014 annexation of Crimea and mentioned he was cooperating with Ukrainian prosecutors’ treason case in opposition to former President Viktor Yanukovych, the pro-Russian politician who fled Ukraine after lethal 2014 protests.
Physique lies outdoors resort
Particulars in regards to the capturing weren’t instantly launched. CNN video exhibits investigators standing over the bloodied physique of Voronenkov, mendacity face-up on a Kiev sidewalk close to the Premier Palace resort.
The suspect was wounded and has been taken to a hospital, Kiev police Chief Andriy Krischenko mentioned. Particulars in regards to the suspect’s id and who injured him weren’t accessible.
No motive for the assault was instantly recognized.
Ukrainian Prosecutor Common Yuri Lutsenko mentioned Voronenkov had given “extraordinarily vital testimony” to Ukraine’s army prosecutors.
Voronenkov’s killing was “a demonstrative execution of a witness,” Lutsenko mentioned.
Referred to as annexation of Crimea ‘a mistake’
Voronenkov and his spouse, former Russian lawmaker Maria Maksakova, sharply criticized Putin after they left Russia for Ukraine in October.
In a February interview with Radio Free Europe, Voronenkov referred to as Russia’s seizure of Crimea from the Ukraine a “mistake” and “unlawful,” and mentioned the couple left the nation due to stress from Russian safety providers.
Voronenkov additionally alleged that though he was recorded as having voted for the annexation in Russia’s Duma, the vote was solid in opposition to his will. He was not at parliament that day, and one other legislator used Voronenkov’s card to vote for him, he informed Radio Free Europe.
The day after that interview, Peskov, Putin’s spokesman, denied Voronenkov’s declare.
“I used to be current at nearly each voting and it wasn’t like they (Voronenkov and Maksakova) mentioned,” Peskov mentioned, according to Russia’s state-run Sputnik news service.
Voronenkov mentioned he thought his criticisms led Russian authorities to cost him in absentia with fraud in February, Radio Free Europe reported. He referred to as the costs “pretend” and “political,” the report mentioned.
Sputnik news service solid Voronenkov’s departure from the nation as an try to flee from investigation, citing the Russian Investigative Committee.
Voronenkov mentioned he’d turn out to be a Ukrainian citizen. Whereas he was a Communist Occasion member, his spouse had belonged to the ruling United Russia get together.
Witness in opposition to Yanukovych
Voronenkov additionally informed Radio Free Europe that he was serving to Ukrainian prosecutors put together their case in opposition to Yanukovych, who’s accused of treason, partially for allegedly facilitating Russia’s annexation of Crimea after he fled Ukraine.
Yanukovych was Ukraine’s President when, in 2013, he suspended talks on what was to be a landmark political and commerce cope with the European Union. Russia had opposed Ukraine forming nearer ties with the European Union.
Tens of hundreds of pro-Western protesters rallied in Kiev in opposition to Yanukovych’s determination, and in February 2014, a gunfight between protesters and police left dozens useless. Yanukovych quickly fled, finally for Russia, as his guards deserted the presidential compound.
Russia’s parliament signed off on Putin’s request to ship army forces into Crimea the subsequent month. An rebellion by pro-Russian rebels within the jap Ukrainian areas of Donetsk and Luhansk ensued, a battle that has left hundreds of individuals useless and injured.
“I informed (prosecutors) some particulars of what was happening. And I’ll give testimony in open courtroom in the midst of judicial inquiry held in Ukraine,” Voronenkov informed Radio Free Europe.
Different deaths, accidents of Kremlin critics
Voronenkov is certainly one of a number of Kremlin critics to die or be injured in mysterious circumstances.
• In 2015, Putin critic Boris Nemtsov, a deputy prime minister within the late 1990s underneath President Boris Yeltsin, was shot within the again whereas strolling in central Moscow.
5 suspects have been on trial in Moscow since October, with one accused of accepting money to kill him. All have pleaded not responsible.
Putin blamed extremists and protesters who he mentioned had been attempting to stir inner strife in Russia. However folks near Nemtsov have expressed concern that he was killed due to his opposition to the federal government.
• Final month, Nemtsov’s good friend, Vladimir Kara-Murza, was in a coma after a suspected poisoning. Kara-Murza is a part of Open Russia, a corporation of anti-Putin activists who’re calling for open elections, a free press and civil rights reforms.
It was the second time in two years Kara-Murza fell right into a coma after a suspected poisoning.
• In 2013, Russian businessman Boris Berezovsky was discovered useless inside his home in Britain with a noose round his neck. His falling-out with the Russian authorities had left him self-exiled in the UK.
A coroner’s officer mentioned it could not say whether or not Berezovsky killed himself. That 12 months, Putin mentioned he couldn’t rule out that international secret providers had a job in Berezovsky’s loss of life, however he added that there was no proof of this.
• In July 2009, human rights activist Natalya Estemirova was kidnapped outdoors her residence within the Russian republic of Chechnya and located shot to loss of life in a neighboring republic the identical day. She had spent years investigating human rights abuses in Chechnya.
The top of the group Estemirova labored for, Memorial, accused the Kremlin-backed Chechen management of ordering her killing. Chechen President Ramzan Kadyrov denied involvement in her loss of life, calling it a “monstrous crime” that was carried out to discredit his authorities.
• In 2006, Anna Politkovskaya, a journalist crucial of Russia’s battle in Chechnya, was gunned down on the entrance to her Moscow condo.
The Kremlin has staunchly denied accusations that it or its brokers are focusing on political opponents or had something to do with the deaths.
• Additionally in 2006, former Russian spy Alexander Litvinenko died a sluggish loss of life from poisoning in Britain. In a deathbed assertion, he blamed Putin for ordering his poisoning via the uncommon radioactive substance polonium-210, saying it was slipped into his tea at a London resort.
The Kremlin has at all times strongly denied the accusation, as have the 2 chief suspects, Andrei Lugovoy and Dmitri Kovtun. However a British inquiry into his loss of life concluded that Putin and the FSB, the KGB’s successor, likely ordered the poisoning.