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Shooting of former Russian lawmaker marks second Putin-critic death this week

Russia denies it had any connection to the deaths.


Lauren L'Amie


Posted on Mar 23, 2017   Updated on May 24, 2021, 7:46 pm CDT

Two prominent critics of Vladimir Putin died violently this week: One was shot in broad daylight while the second fell from a window.

Denis Voronenkov, a former Russian lawmaker and prominent critic of Russian President Vladimir Putin was shot in the head in the middle of the day Thursday on a busy street in Kiev, Ukraine.

The shooting comes just two days after Moscow-based lawyer Nikolai Gorokhov mysteriously plummeted from the fourth floor of his own apartment building. Gorokhov was due to appear in court Wednesday, where he was representing the family of a deceased Russian information leaker.

Voronenkov, who fled Russia for Ukraine in 2016, was vocally critical of Putin’s policies in recent years. A former communist party legislator, Voronenkov is registered as having voted in favor of Russia’s annexation of Ukraine’s Crimean peninsula in 2014— legislation supported by all but one Russian legislator.

In an interview with Radio Free Europe in February, however, Voronenkov completely flipped, becoming an outspoken critic of everything he once supported.

He claims he didn’t cast the Crimea vote himself, but that his card was filled in by another legislator. Speaking candidly about extremism in the Russian elite, he said they were behaving in a “pseudo-patriotic frenzy.” Voronenkov then revealed that he played a key role as a witness in Ukraine’s high treason case against former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych, who has been living in exile in Russia for the past three years.

After the shooting, Ukrainian president Petro Poroshenko pointed to Moscow, calling Voronenkov’s death an act of “state terrorism,” the Guardian reports.

In response to Voronenkov’s killing, Dmitry Peskov, a presidential spokesperson for Vladimir Putin, promptly dismissed any claims that the attack could be linked to the Kremlin.

“We believe that all speculations about a Russian connection are absurd,” Peskov said in a statement to a Russian news agency. Thursday’s incident, he claimed, was merely evidence that Ukraine did not provide adequate security for Voronenkov.

“We hope that the killer and those behind the murder will be exposed,” Peskov said.

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*First Published: Mar 23, 2017, 5:35 pm CDT