Russian Critic Murdered Outside Ukrainian Hotel

Molly D. '18, Assistant Web Editor

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A critic of the Russian government was killed in Ukraine on Thursday, March 24th. After fleeing Russia last year, Denis Voronenkov, a former Russian lawmaker, sought refuge in the nearby Ukraine.

Denis Voronenkev was shot twice in the head, in the middle of the day, outside a hotel in Kiev, Ukraine. His attacker was then involved in a shootout with Voronenkev’s bodyguard and later died in the hospital. The Ukraine’s president, Petro Poroshenko, called this violent crime an “act of terrorism” committed by Russia. A spokesman for Putin has denied the claims and said Russia played no part in the murder.

Voronenkov had been a harsh critic of Putin and the Russian government and was against Russia’s 2014 seizure of Crimea. Before he was killed, Voronenkov also claimed that although he reportedly voted for the annexation, he was actually absent from the vote and a fellow lawmaker voted in his name.

Though he had a body guard by his side, Voronenkov always knew he was in danger. Speaking out against Russia has proved to be a bad idea, but Voronenkov felt it was necessary. “There’s been a demonization of us. It’s hard to say what will happen. The system has lost its mind. They say we are traitors in Russia.” he said in an interview with the Washington Post.

He could not predict his own assassination, but he did feel like he was constantly in danger. Criticizing the Russian government, he said, “It’s a totally amoral system, and in its anger it may go to extreme measures.”

This has not been the first time a critic of Russia has mysteriously been killed. In the past decade, several opponents of Putin and the government have been found dead. In 2006 Alexander Litvinenko was poisoned in London and in 2015 Boris Nemtsov was assassinated in Moscow. Just last month Vladimir Kara-Murza fell into a coma after a suspected poisoning attempt.

At a time when the Russian government is so intimidating and powerful, speaking up can be deadly. Denis Voronenkov took a risk by using his voice but unfortunately was yet another victim of Russia’s vicious attacks.

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