Ukraine pins politician’s murder on wife’s ‘Russian-controlled gangster’ ex-partner

Kiev's suspect and the Kremlin deny role in Denis Voronenkov's death

Police collect evidence at the site of the murder of Denis Voronenkov, last March, in Kiev. Photograph: Ivan Kovalenko/Kommersant via Getty Images

Police collect evidence at the site of the murder of Denis Voronenkov, last March, in Kiev. Photograph: Ivan Kovalenko/Kommersant via Getty Images

 

Ukrainian prosecutors say former Russian deputy Denis Voronenkov was shot dead in Kiev in March on the orders of his wife’s ex-partner, who they allege is a crime boss controlled by Moscow’s security services.

Mr Voronenkov appeared to be a loyal pro-Kremlin member of Russia’s parliament until he was accused of fraud and fled to Ukraine last October with his wife, opera singer and fellow former Russian deputy Maria Maksakova.

Once there, Mr Voronenkov obtained Ukrainian citizenship, denounced Russian president Vladimir Putin and testified against Ukraine’s former president Viktor Yanukovich, who escaped to Russia in 2014 after his security forces killed scores of protesters in Kiev.

Murdered

Mr Voronenkov was murdered outside the elite Premier Palace hotel in central Kiev on the morning of March 23rd. In a subsequent gunfight, his bodyguard was injured and his killer suffered bullet wounds that would prove fatal.

“The man who ordered the murder was Vladimir Anatolyevich Tyurin, who is controlled by the FSB [Russian security service], and is known as the leader of a criminal group,” said Ukrainian prosecutor general Yuri Lutsenko.

He claimed the motive for Mr Voronenkov’s murder was “a combination of the highest interests of the Russian Federation in eliminating a witness who gave valuable testimony” about Russia’s crimes in Ukraine “and the personal motives of Mr Tyurin, who wanted to take revenge on his former common-law wife Maksakova and through such actions increase his authority” in the criminal underworld.

Mr Voronenkov was seen as a potentially important source of information on Russia’s support for Mr Yanukovich, its annexation of Crimea in 2014 and its fomenting of a separatist war in eastern regions.

‘Absurd’

Mr Tyurin denies involvement and the Kremlin called suggestions of a Russian state role in the murder “absurd”.

Russian opposition politician Ilya Ponomaryov said he believed the killing was planned by Mr Tyurin and an FSB officer who suffered as a result of an anti-corruption investigation by Mr Voronenkov.

“I have talked to Maria [Maksakova] and we have the same opinion, we both trust the results of this investigation,” said Mr Ponomaryov, who was due to meet Mr Voronenkov on the day he was killed.

The hitman was Pavlo Parshov, a Crimean-born former member of Ukraine’s national guard, who officials in Kiev claim was recruited and trained by the Russian security services.

Ukraine says several high-profile murders in Kiev and other cities are an element of Moscow’s “hybrid” aggression against the country.