Ukraine accuses Russia of a brazen assassination of a key witness in Yanukovych case

Denis Voronenkov, former deputy of the Russian State Duma, was killed in the center of Kyiv on March 23. He moved to Kyiv in October 2016, when he gave evidence in the case of high treason against former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych. In December 2016, Voronenkov received Ukrainian citizenship.

The killer shot Voronenkov while he was leaving the Premier Palace Hotel with a bodyguard. The former deputy died on site from his wounds. The bodyguard has been hospitalized (according to Yuriy Lutsenko, Prosecutor General of Ukraine, he is “a member of the Ukrainian special services”). The bodyguard managed to shoot at the killer, who died in hospital from his wounds. Later the publication “Obozrevatel” reported that the killer was a citizen of Ukraine, born in 1988, who was under investigation for “fictitious enterprise and money laundering”. Anton Gerashchenko, adviser to the head of the Ministry of Internal Affairs, said that police are investigating a second suspect, who may have been involved in organizing the murder of Voronenkov.

It is known that Denis Voronenkov went to meet with his colleague, former State Duma deputy Ilya Ponomarev, another witness in the Yanukovych case. After the meeting, Voronenkov was supposed to give evidence in the Yanukovych case at the military Prosecutor’s Office, Prosecutor General Yuriy Lutsenko reported at a briefing. Lutsenko also named two possible theories regarding the assassination of Voronenkov: he could have been killed as an enemy of Russia, or as a witness in the Yanukovych case.

“The deputy Voronenkov worked in the federal service to oppose drugs and contraband [in Russia]. He was well-known for the high-profile Three Whales case, which his subdivision investigated. During the investigation it was found that the contraband in the “Three Whales” store was only a portion of the vast amount of contraband which the FSB [Federal Security Service] was involved in. As a result of this investigation, several dozens of FSB generals were fired, and, notably, a person who later worked in the “Rosneft” security service, led by Igor Sechin, who is closely associated with the Russian president. This is why one of the main theories, alongside the theory of assassination on account of the Yanukovych case, is the theory relating to FSB contraband, covered up by the president of Russia,” Lutsenko explained.

A similar theory was expressed in a broadcast of the Russian TV channel “Dozhd” by Ilya Ponomarev, who was meant to meet with Voronenkov on the day of the murder. He said that Voronenkov was a valuable witness not only in the case against former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych, but he also had information regarding the economic crimes of the Russian authorities.

Ponomarev met with Voronenkov frequently. The former deputy asserts that Voronenkov had no conflicts in Ukraine, and that the assassination is connected to the fact that Voronenkov was planning to create a center in Kyiv to investigate money laundering by the Russian special services on a global scale.

The Ukrainian authorities see a “Russian trail” behind this killing. President Petro Poroshenko has held a meeting with security officials.

“The insidious murder of Denis Voronenkov in the center of Kyiv is an act of state terrorism by Russia, which he had to leave for political reasons. A clear trademark of the Russian special services, which used to show up repeatedly in various European capitals,” Poroshenko said. He also added that Voronenkov was one of the main witnesses of “Russian aggression against Ukraine”, especially the role of Viktor Yanukovych in bringing Russian forces into Ukraine.

“I do not consider it a coincidence that the assassination took place on the same day as the sabotage at Balakleya in the Kharkov region [on March 23 in the Kharkov region, one of the largest munitions depots in Europe exploded. Ukraine claims that this was sabotage]”, the Ukrainian President emphasized.

Russia says that the assassination of Voronenkov is provocation by the Ukrainian special services. Dmitry Peskov, Press Secretary to the Russian President, called the statements by Ukraine about a “Russian trail” behind the assassination of the former deputy “absurd”.

The day before the murder, in his final interview, Voronenkov told Gordon news that Russia had called for him to be killed.

“The central Russian TV channels are already screaming: Voronenkov must be exchanged for Sushchenko [a Ukrainian journalist who is being accused of espionage in Russia], and if that doesn’t work, kill him, like Bandera. People in Russia have lost their minds, they are not healthy,” Voronenkov said in his very last interview.


  Ukraine, Russia, Denis Voronenkov