Former Russian lawmaker's killing latest violence against Kremlin critics

Violence against Russia critics
Violence against Russia critics 02:50

Ukraine’s president blames Russia for the killing of Denis Voronenkov, a former Russian lawmaker and vocal Kremlin critic who defected last year. Voronenkov was shot and killed in public Thursday near the entrance of a hotel in Kiev, Ukraine’s capital.

He was a key witness in a treason case against Ukraine’s pro-Russia former president, Viktor Yanukovych. Ukrainian officials described the shooting as an execution and accused Russia of state terrorism, reports CBS News correspondent Anna Werner. This is just the latest incident of violence involving people critical of Moscow.

Prosecutors say the motive behind Voronenkov’s killing remains unclear, but Ukrainian officials believe Moscow was behind the attack. He was scheduled to give testimony at Ukraine’s military prosecutor’s office, the purpose of which was not immediately clear.

Investigators inspect the body of Denis Voronenkov, a former lawmaker of the Russian State Duma who was shot dead in central Kiev, Ukraine, March 23, 2017. REUTERS

In an interview last month, Voronenkov said he was not concerned for his safety and was not going to hide. The Ukraine government did not agree, providing him with a bodyguard, who was injured in Thursday’s firefight after shooting and killing the Voronenkov’s attacker.

Voronenkov joins a growing list of people, all critical of the Russian government and/or President Vladimir Putin, who have ended up dead, including former Russian spy Alexander Litvinenko, who in 2006, drank tea in London laced with radioactive polonium. It was likely given to him by Russia’s security services with Putin’s knowledge. Journalist Natalya Estemirova, who was critical of Russia’s human rights policies, was kidnapped and killed in 2009.

Russian government critic, Vladimir Kara-Murza, is now recovering from a second alleged poisoning by the Putin regime. He said he is positive it’s “retaliation” for his “political activities in the Russian opposition.” He spoke to “60 Minutes” about his first alleged attack.

“I was at one point connected, I think to eight different artificial life support machines and doctors told my wife that there’s only gonna be about a 5 percent chance that I’ll survive,” Kara-Murza said.

Kara-Murza survived both incidents, but his friend and liberal opposition leader to the Putin government – Boris Nemtsov – was shot and killed near the Kremlin in 2015.

“People shouldn’t be killed for their political activity and because they happen to disagree with the government,” Kara-Murza said.

Russia denies any involvement in both the poisoning of Kara-Murza and the shooting of Voronenkov. A spokesman for President Putin called Ukraine’s accusation of state terrorism absurd.