Voronenkov sent me his last message today at 11:21 a.m. He sent me a link to his last interview to Gordon news website and said “It’s reading in the same breath.” The interview is titled “Russia screams I should be exchanged for Sushchenko, and if not — assassinated like Bandera.”
Four minutes later, at 11:25 a.m., right after I got the message, a Russian saboteur shot Voronenkov dead in Kyiv downtown. This was announced by Ilya Ponomarev, another former Russian Duma member and opposition politician, who Voronenkov was about to meet.
Denys was well aware of the high threat, but he had guts. He decided to do or die. He could have stayed in a comfortable place, he was a very well-off person; no one was pressuring him here, our authorities were not asking him of these interviews, he could have not done all of them. It’s hard to imagine, but he was interested; he was arranging the interviews without any press secretaries, and our secret services were not telling him what to do. Voronenkov decided to change much and reassess much in himself. For many years, he was a part of the system, an officer of the Putin’s secret services, but then he decided to change it all. He was the head of a department in the Federal Service for Drug Control of Russia.
To be honest, I trusted him almost right away, after our second meeting. He didn’t look like a man who was chased for. When he left [Russia – ed.], there were no criminal cases against him. A case was initiated the next day after the interview to Censor was published.
I warned him several times — I asked him whether he understood the risks for himself and his family? He kept saying he has made the choice. And that any bullying against him just makes him more ascertained in opposing Putin.
How has he been singled out? He was cautious but still communicated with the rest of the world. He had a phone but only communicated via WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger. He might have arranged for another interview, he might have been lured out.
In Kyiv, he wanted to become a civil servant. He didn’t have huge ambitions, or a desire for a political career. He wanted to become a regular employee of the National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine as an expert on Russia; no doubts, he could have benefitted Ukraine in that role.
He was killed as a Ukrainian citizen, as an enemy against Putin, and his murder, I believe, could be equated with that of Kyiv journalist Pavel Sheremet.
Not long before his death, I spoke with Denys. He thanked me for the interview and said he did not expect such attention. I told him to be cautious and not talk to anyone on the phone for he was underestimating the threat that his revelations — revelations of a person from the system — were posing to Putin’s regime.
A sabotage group of the enemy committed an assault in downtown Kyiv upon wanted in Russia former State Duma member Denys Voronenkov, who has become citizen of Ukraine. It occurred at the Premier Palace hotel at Shevchenka Boulevard.
Voronenkov died at the scene. An SBU officer from Voronenkov’s guards was also wounded but managed to fire and shot the killer.
Voronenkov was trying to travel covertly, without speaking on the phone. As a former secret services officer, he realized the threats and was taking security measures. He was guarded by the SBU 24/7. His residence address was a secret. Finding his route was a difficult task to do.
It’s possible that he was lured out for a meeting.
It is obvious that the attempt and a daring attack could have only been organized by Russian secret services.
Denis Voronenkov was killed only because of his political views and testimony against Putin’s regime in the case against Yanukovych. He had no business conflicts in the Russian Federation. He gave me his first political interview in Ukraine exposing Putin’s regime, after which Russian authorities started defaming and demonizing him, announced him a public enemy and a traitor. He knew them all; he was a man from the system. Not a high-profile one, but in the State Duma, he was sometimes communicating with now head of Russia’s foreign intelligence service Naryshkin, and Putin’s aid Vladislav Surkov, the curator of the “Ukrainian issue.”
Voronenkov testified to the Prosecutor General’s Office in the case against Yanukovych. His testimony was of a great value. His appearance at the open hearing that is prepared by the Main Military Prosecutor’s Office would have been a big deal:
“- You were testifying in the Prosecutor General’s Office of Ukraine. What was it about?
“- I wouldn’t like to disclose materials of the pre-trial investigation, but to be short… Yes, I testified in the case on Yanukovych’s high treason. I thought it was my duty to help my country and expose the rascal. This convicted criminal who betrayed his people, fled, and asked another state to invade his country and kill his compatriots. I believe these words and actions should be looked at from the legal point of view and given a legal assessment. Yanukovych is a puppet. He himself signed a disavowal, and his request to send in Russian troops was illegal. At first this request was to be written by Crimea’s [head] Aksenov. In Russia, everything is a secret but nothing is secrecy. Then the Kremlin was like — who’s Aksenov if Yanukovych is in Russia. So he was the one to write a letter to the Russian president about sending in the troops. ”
He knew he could be killed for the interview. I asked him about it straight away.
“- Former Russian journalist Pavel Sheremet was killed in a terrorist attack in Kyiv. He might have fallen victim of Russian secret services, as witnessed by circumstances. Are you not afraid that you are another possible target for Russian terrorist, and that they may hunt you?
“- Any risk shouldn’t be underestimated. But I am a prepared person. There is a risk. But I risk in Kyiv as much as in Moscow. I am ready for the risk.
“- What would you like to do in Ukraine?
“- First of all, I would like to be useful for the country, with all expertise that I have. Russia does not need people like me anymore. I am in the middle of the negotiations. But I received the citizenship first because one cannot take a public post without citizenship. I need no privileges, I will try to find my spot just like others. I understand it would not be easy. But this is freedom. A person can make his/her choice. I have made mine.
“I would like to quote Mayakovsky:
“I want to be understood by my country,
but if I fail to be understood – what then?,
I shall pass through my native land to one side,
like a shower of slanting rain.”
Denys Voronenkov was killed having been a Ukrainian citizen since Dec. 6, 2016. His deed and his testimony against Yanukovych were very important for our country. Not long before his death, I spoke with Denys. He thanked me for the interview and said he did not expect such attention. I told him to be cautious and not talk to anyone on the phone for he was underestimating the threat that his revelations — revelations of a person from the system — were posing to Putin’s regime.
Yurii Butusov, Censor.NET
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