In what the Ukrainian president is calling an "act of state terrorism" by Russia, former Russian parliament member Denis Voronenkov was shot dead in broad daylight in Kiev on Thursday. Voronenkov had defected to Ukraine and had been highly critical of the Russian government, Vladimir Putin, and the pro-Russia former Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovych.
Ukrainian Pravda reports that Voronenkov was shot and killed by an unidentified gunman near the entrance of the Premier Palace Hotel, where the former Russian lawmaker was staying. The gunman shot and wounded Voronenkov's bodyguard, who fired back, wounding the gunman. Both men were hospitalized, the gunman later dying of his wound.
Voronenkov was a communist member of parliament and was openly critical of recent Russian policies and pro-Russia former president Yanukovych, against whom he testified last fall after moving to Ukraine. Voronenkov was highly critical of Russia's annexation of Crimea in 2014 and was a key witness in the Ukraine's treason case against former President Yanukovych.
Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko described the shooting as an "act of state terrorism" that "clearly shows the handwriting of Russian special services, which has been shown repeatedly in various European capitals in the past." That the shooting took place at the same time as an apparent act of "sabotage" at a Ukrainian military arsenal in the Kharkiv, said Poroshenko, was no coincidence.
A spokesman for Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin dismissed the accusation as "absurd," while Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said Kiev "will do its best to make sure that no one will ever know the truth about what happened."