Former Russian lawmaker Denis Voronenkov has been shot and killed in central Kiev, Ukrainian police have said.
“There was an exchange of fire in front of the entrance to the Premier-Palace Hotel about 40 minutes ago. One man was killed and two other persons were injured. The identity of the killed man has been established. He is a Russian politician, a former State Duma member. Yes, I can confirm that he is Denis Voronenkov,” the head of Kiev police, Andrey Krishchenko, said, as cited by TASS.
Krishchenko said the assailant injured Voronenkov’s bodyguard, who fired at him in return.
“[The suspect] is under police protection, he is being given priority medical assistance at a hospital,” Krishchenko told reporters.
Voronenkov, a former member of the Russian Communist Party, emigrated from Russia to Ukraine in October 2016. He received Ukrainian citizenship in December, having given up his status as a Russian citizen. He was highly critical of the Russian authorities.
Voronenkov had been on a federal wanted list in Russia since February 15, as well as on an international wanted list since February 27, charged with masterminding a large-scale fraud.
The fugitive lawmaker’s alleged corruption also featured in an investigation by Russian opposition figure Aleksey Navalny, who had reportedly discovered that Voronenkov had far more assets than his officially-declared yearly income of 2.4 million rubles (about $41,700).
The former lawmaker was shot twice in the head when he was on the corner of Taras Shevchenko Boulevard and Pushkinska Street, near the main entrance to Kiev’s Premier Palace Hotel.
Ukrainian law enforcers immediately said they believe Russia is behind Voronenkov’s killing.
Russia has rebuffed accusations of links to Voronenkov’s killing.
“We believe that any notion of a notorious Russian trail in the murder of former State Duma deputy Denis Voronenkov are absurd,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told journalists.
“We hope that the assailant and those who are behind his actions will be identified,” Peskov added.