Editor’s Note: The story is being updated.

Gunfire hit the car of Serhiy Shefir, a chief aide to President Volodymyr Zelensky, near a village in the Kyiv region, the national police reported.

More than 10 bullets struck the vehicle at about 10 a.m. on Sept. 22. The driver was hurt and is receiving medical treatment. Shefir was not injured.

“I don’t understand the reasons. I understand that we were driving, suddenly shots were fired, the driver was injured,” Shefir said at a subsequent press conference. “It was scary.”

The official said he immediately called the police and summoned an ambulance for his driver.

“In my opinion, the goal was to intimidate the highest echelons of power, but President Zelensky cannot be intimidated,” he added.


Zelensky, who is currently in the United States at a meeting of the United Nations General Assembly, responded with a video message.

“Saying hello to me by shooting at my friend’s car from the forest is a weakness but the response will be strong,” he said. Zelensky added that he will fly back to Kyiv immediately after his speech at the assembly.

Prosecutor General Iryna Venediktova came to the scene and law enforcers launched a special operation to find the attackers. Police asked anyone with information about the shooting to call them at phone number 102.

Shefir was one of the leading figures in Zelensky’s election headquarters, and in May 2019, became the president’s chief aide. He is said to be Zelensky’s closest adviser.

Prior to his political career, Shefir worked with Zelensky at the TV Studio Kvartal-95.

The president said he has been blindsided by the attack on his close friend and colleague. “Who is behind this, frankly, I do not know. What are these powers? Could be internal, maybe external,” he said. 

Zelensky’s entourage and political experts are considering several possibilities. The head of the president’s political party Servant of the People, David Arakhamia, said Russia could be behind the attack.

More than 10 bullets struck this black Audi in which presidential aide Serhiy Shefir was riding on the morning of Sept. 22, 2021. The vehicle’s driver was injured but Shefir was unharmed. Police are investigating the shooting as an assassination attempt. (Ukraine's National Police)

“A Russian trace should not be ruled out. We know their ability to organize terrorist attacks in different countries,” Arakhamia told reporters. 

Mykhailo Podolyak, a communications adviser to Zelensky’s chief of staff, said the attempt to assassinate Shefir could be a result of the president’s fight against oligarchs.

“We, of course, associate this attack with an aggressive and even militant campaign against the active policy of the head of state,” Interfax Ukraine cited Podolyak.

“Back to the old days of oligarch wars? Guess people thought the country was beyond this kind of thing,” said Timothy Ash, a London-based analyst for BlueBay Asset Management. “Guess we did have the attacks on former NBU management, clearly related to the banking reform story.”

Zelensky submitted a deoligarchization bill to the Verkhovna Rada on June 2. Leaders of parliamentary factions agreed to consider the second reading of the bill on Sept. 22 or 23.

A closeup of the bullet holes in Shefir’s Audi, photographed on Sept. 22, 2021. (Anton Gerashchenko/Facebook)

The draft law would create a formal definition of what an oligarch is. These people would be banned from donating directly or indirectly to political parties and taking part in the privatization of state assets. 


Oligarchs are defined as persons meeting at least three of four criteria: involvement in political activities, a considerable influence on mass media, being a beneficiary of monopolies recognized by anti-trust authorities and ownership of assets exceeding Hr 2.2 billion ($81 million), excluding media assets.

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