Ukraine: Russian Agent Killed Kremlin Critic Voronenkov

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko said Voronenkov's killing was an "act of state terrorism"

A Ukrainian official said Friday that the killer of renegade Russian lawmaker Denis Voronenkov, who was gunned down in the Ukrainian capital of Kiev, was a Russian agent, a claim quickly rejected by the Kremlin.

Anton Gerashchenko, an adviser to Ukraine's interior minister, identified the man who shot Voronenkov on Thursday as 28-year-old Pavel Parshov and said he had been trained in Russia by Russian security services. Parshov was badly wounded in the attack and died shortly after in a hospital without regaining consciousness.

"He underwent a special course at a school for saboteurs," Gerashchenko wrote Friday in a Facebook post without explaining how that information was obtained.

Dmitry Peskov, a spokesman for Russian President Vladimir Putin, told reporters that Gerashchenko's allegation was "absurd."

Ukraine's National Guard said in a statement that the 28-year old Parshov served in its ranks in 2015-2016 until being dismissed for an unspecified breach of contract.

Ukraine's chief prosecutor, Yuriy Lutsenko, said Voronenkov was killed shortly before meeting with another fugitive Russian lawmaker, Ilya Ponomaryov. Both men were scheduled to give testimony later Thursday at Ukraine's Military Prosecutor's Office. The purpose of the testimony was not immediately clear.

Voronenkov, who had toed the Kremlin line while serving as Russian lawmaker but turned a Kremlin critic after his move to Ukraine last fall, was shot dead near the entrance to an upscale hotel in the center of Kiev.

Ukrainian media on Friday published leaked CCTV footage of the attack. It shows the killer shooting Voronenkov from behind as he was walking down the street with his bodyguard.

When the bodyguard tries to intervene, he, too, is shot, leaving the killer free to shoot Voronenkov again as he is lying on the floor. The injured bodyguard then pulls out his gun and, while lying on the floor, fires on the killer.

The slaying has added to the strain in Russia-Ukraine ties that have soured badly following Russia's 2014 annexation of the Crimean Peninsula from Ukraine and its support for separatist rebels in eastern Ukraine.

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko immediately called the killing an "act of state terrorism" by Russia even as Ukrainian police were still inspecting the scene. Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova responded by describing Ukraine as the "killer state" and senior Russian lawmakers suggested that the Ukrainian spy agency staged the killing to blame Moscow.

Voronenkov, who had prized real estate in Moscow, was reportedly involved in business disputes, but saw off attempts to lift his parliamentary immunity amid criminal charges while in Russia. Russian investigators have filed fraud charges against him in connection with his business activities after his move to Ukraine.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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