If Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko is right in calling the March 23 assassination in Kyiv of an exiled Russian lawmaker “an act of state terrorism,” it was a brazen one for Russian President Vladimir Putin, blamed for countless murders of critics, civilians and journalists during his bloody dictatorship since 2000.
Putin’s spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, denied that Putin is to blame for the murder of Denis Voronenkov, 45, and said the Russian state wants the killer to be found.
But the place and timing of the assassination — about 11:30 am. on one of the busiest corners in central Kyiv, outside a hotel that is the meeting place of many rich politicians and businesspeople — struck many people as a clear signal to Russian dissidents: You’re not safe anywhere, even if you leave Russia. The sidewalk outside the Premier Palace Hotel resembles a Mercedes Benz parking lot on many days, with many self-important businessmen rushing out of their luxury cars, often with bodyguards, and going inside for meetings.
A former member of the Russian parliament, Denis Voronenkov, was shot dead in the heart of Kyiv, on the corner of Shevchenko and Pushkin streets, on March 23. Voronenkov fled to Ukraine in 2016.
The man identified by police as Voronenkov’s assassin was laying on the sidewalk only 10 meters away from his victim. He was mortally wounded by Voronenkov’s bodyguard, who was also injured in the shootout in which at least six shots were fired, according to eyewitnesses. The assassin died later of his injuries in the hospital, while investigators said the bodyguard is recovering from his wounds and cooperating with investigators.