The site of Voronenkov's assasination. Photo: RFE/RL
Ukraine’s Prosecutor General Yuriy Lutsenko has presented the results of an investigation into the murder of former Russian State Duma MP Denis Voronenkov who was shot down in central Kyiv in March. Speaking at a briefing on 9 October, he said that the murder was ordered by FSB-controlled criminal leader Vladimir Tyurin, the former common-law husband of Maria Maksakova.
This announcement came as a breakthrough in the probe into the murder of the MP who defected to Ukraine and became a critic of Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Voronenkov was gunned down in broad daylight on 23 March 2017 in central Kyiv. Voronenko’s bodyguard injured the assailant who was shooting a TT gun at the two men as they were exiting the Premier Palace hotel, Crimean-born Ukrainian national Pavlo Parshov, who died in the hospital.
Ukrainian officials blamed Russia from the outset, with Lutsenko then describing the murder as “a demonstrative execution of a witness.” The assassinated Russian ex-MP was one of the key witnesses in Yanukovych case, who agreed to testify in Victor Yanukovych’s case on state treason in Ukrainian court. His testimony, which he did not live to give, reportedly supplemented the one given by Ilya Ponomarev, another former Duma member who had to flee to Ukraine due to his vote against Crimea annexation. As well, Ponomaryov claimed that Voronenkov was “a very dangerous person for the Russian corrupt law enforcement agencies, which made real investigations, had a lot of information about the smuggling business in Russia.”
Today, Lutsenko said that the Ukrainian investigation is convinced that Voronenkov’s assassination is connected to his testimony about the presence of Russian troops in Ukrainian territory, as well as those in Viktor Yanukovych’s high treason case. He said that the murder was prepared together with the leadership of the Russian FSB.
“To prevent Voronenkov’s testimony in Ukrainian and international courts, members of the Russian special services developed a plan for his physical elimination as a witness. The actual person who ordered the contract hit, according to the Main Intelligence Directorate of the Ministry of Defense of Ukraine, confirmed by the investigation of the Kyiv prosecutor’s office, was a FSB-controlled crime lord Vladimir Anatolievich Tiurin,” Lutsenko said, UNIAN reported.
Lutsenko also said the contractor had a personal motive for the murder, as eight years ago he was the common-law husband of Maria Maksakova, Voronenkov’s wife at the time of the murder. Maksakova has two children together with Tyurin.
The investigators claim to have identified all the participants of the murder and restored the entire chronology of events from the preparation of the crime to the detention to the suspects. According to the investigation, Pavlo Parshov, the gunman, was in collusion with Ukrainian citizens Vasylenko, Los, Levenets, and Tarasenko. Los and Tarasenko are now in custody, and Levenets and Vasylenko are now wanted outside Ukraine.
Vladimir Tyurin is a Russian citizen born in 1958. According to the General Prosecutor’s office, he was tried for “rape by a group of people, theft, and hooliganism.” Ukraine has already submitted an extradition request for him to Russia.
Tyurin denied involvement and dismissed the claim as “nonsense,” according to Sergei Belyak, a former lawyer for the Russian, and said that Voronenkov’s killing “is the doing of Ukrainian nationalists, who hoped that the Ukrainian authorities would then use it for a new accusation against Russia.”
According to media reports, Tyurin has extensive connections among influential businessmen, high-standing politicians and officials, including in the judiciary and law enforcement (one of Tyurin’s lobbyists is named as Russian MP Nikolai Kurianovich), as well as stars in the world of culture and show-business (he has helped many stars in the Bolshoi Theater).
Voronenko’s killing was one of a series of politically charged shootings, car bomb blasts, and other attacks carried out in Kyiv in the past 15 months. Ukrainian officials have long suspected that Russia is behind the attacks.