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Kyiv Identifies Suspected Gunman In Ex-Duma Deputy's Assassination

  • Christopher Miller

An image of the alleged killer of Denis Voronenkov, Pavel Parshov, according to Ukraine's Interior Ministry.

The Ukrainian Interior Ministry has confirmed the identity of the suspected gunman in the assassination in Kyiv on March 23 of a former Russian lawmaker who fled last year to Ukraine.

A ministry spokesman told RFE/RL that the man seen shooting ex-Duma Deputy Denis Voronenkov and a bodyguard in security-camera footage of the incident is 28-year-old, Crimean-born Ukrainian national Pavlo Parshov.

Parshov died in a hospital of bullet wounds suffered when the wounded bodyguard returned fire after the suspect shot Voronenkov multiple times in the head on a downtown sidewalk.

Anton Herashchenko, a nationalist lawmaker and adviser to Ukraine's interior minister, alleged in a Facebook post that Parshov was a secret agent for Russian security services.

He said the Russians helped Parshov cross into Belarus and make his way to Russia, where he "trained in a sabotage school created in the time of Stalin's NKVD," a reference to former Soviet dictator Josef Stalin's hated secret police.

Herashchenko alleged that Parshov was ordered to return to Ukraine and infiltrate a unit of the armed forces or the National Guard "to pretend he was an ordinary soldier" and then lay low until his Russian handlers activated him recently to kill Voronenkov.

Parshov reportedly served for 13 months in the Ukrainian National Guard before leaving the force in August.

Amid media reports that pointed the finger at Parshov, the spokesman, Artem Shevchenko, said his ministry was leaving a public announcement of the suspect's name to Kyiv prosecutors investigating the daylight shooting.

'Matter Of Honor'

Ukrainian officials have blamed Russia, which invaded Ukraine in 2014 and has since backed separatists resisting national government control in eastern Ukraine, but neither officials nor investigators have publicly produced evidence linking Moscow to the crime.

The Kremlin has rejected as "absurd" accusations that Russia was involved.

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko on March 24 called it "a matter of honor for Ukrainian law enforcement and security structures" to successfully investigate Voronenkov's killing and last year's car-bomb assassination of journalist Pavel Sheremet, also in the capital.

Within hours of Voronenkov's death, he had suggested the killing was "an act of state terrorism on the part of Russia."

Denis Voronenkov (right) and his wife, Maria Maksakova, attend a State Duma session in Moscow in June 2016.
Denis Voronenkov (right) and his wife, Maria Maksakova, attend a State Duma session in Moscow in June 2016.

The Ukrainian Interior Ministry's website lists Parshov as a fugitive wanted in the southeastern Dnipro region for allegedly creating fake businesses and laundering money. A mugshot accompanying the entry shows a man with dark eyes, short dark hair, and a trimmed beard. It states his birthdate as July 28, 1988.

Voronenkov and his wife, a fellow ex-legislator who fled Russia with her husband in October, were publicly critical of Russian President Vladimir Putin since they landed in Kyiv, comparing Russia to Nazi Germany.

But Voronenkov was also said to be testifying for Ukrainian authorities as they tried to bolster their case that ousted ex-President Viktor Yanukovych played a role in the deployment of Russian forces to Ukraine amid the street unrest that eventually forced him into Russian exile in February 2014.

Moscow resisted recognizing the subsequent government in Kyiv and occupied and seized Crimea and, according to NATO and the Ukrainian government, has been arming and supporting separatist fighters in eastern Ukraine ever since.

Voronenkov was not universally trusted among Ukrainians, some of whom questioned his loyalties and Kyiv's quick decision to grant him citizenship.

Voronenkov was a Communist Party deputy in the State Duma, Russia's lower house of parliament, from 2011 until an election in September 2016 and was the target of Russian allegations of millions in property theft in Moscow before he fled.

He told RFE/RL in an interview last month that he feared for his own and his wife's safety, noting that "we are poking a sore spot of the Kremlin with our statements."

Ukrainian authorities subsequently provided Voronenkov with a bodyguard.

The U.S. Embassy in Kyiv said on March 24 that it was "in support of a full and impartial investigation [of Voronenkov's killing] that will bring those responsible to justice."

The German Foreign Ministry expressed hope that Voronenkov's killing will be fully and thoroughly investigated.

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    Christopher Miller

    Christopher Miller is a correspondent based in Kyiv and covers the former Soviet republics. He can be reached at millerjchristopher@gmail.com

     

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