Serhiy Shefir, the main adviser to the president of Ukraine, was the target of a shooting attack on Wednesday while traveling by car on the outskirts of Kiev. Shefir, a friend and one of the men closest to President Volodimir Zelenski, was unharmed, but the driver of the car is in critical condition after being hit by three of the bullets. The Ukrainian presidency interprets the attack, which is being investigated by the Prosecutor’s Office as an assassination attempt, as a message for Zelensky, who has served two years in the presidency. More than 10 bullets hit the Audi in which Shefir was traveling, according to the Ukrainian Interior Ministry.
Zelensky, who is in New York to participate in the UN General Assembly, has announced that he will return immediately after his speech, in which he planned to ask for more international support to reverse the annexation of Crimea by Russia in 2014, considered illegal by the international community, and the Donbas war. “Who is behind this? To be honest, I don’t know yet ”, said the president through your Instagram account, one of his most used communication channels since his time as a comic actor. “Who are these forces [tras el ataque]? They can be internal or foreign, but I do not consider them strong because it is a sign of weakness to send me greetings with a blast from the forest against my friend’s car. The answer will be overwhelming ”, stressed Zelenski.
The attack took place around 10 a.m. on a road that ran through a forest on the outskirts of the capital. At least one person fired an automatic weapon at the vehicle, which was not armored. The car was hit by 10 7.62 caliber bullets, according to police. Some of them hit the windows, according to the images provided by the authorities. The perpetrator of the shots has not yet been identified.
Despite the prudence shown by the president, another adviser, Myhailo Podolyak, hinted that the businessmen affected by the new Zelenski law would be behind the attack, with which the government tries to curb the influence of the oligarchs. The rule promoted by the Executive, which, among other things, prevents large businessmen who have information media from intervening in the country’s politics, will be debated this week in Parliament. Possible victims include Zelenski’s predecessor Petro Poroshenko, who owns two television channels; and two of the richest men in the country, Rinat Akhmetov, who owes his wealth to his companies in Donbas, the area where the armed conflict is taking place against the separatists supported by the Kremlin; and the pro-Russian opposition politician Víktor Medvedchuk, whose daughter is the godfather of Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Zelensky’s party, Servant of the People, adds two other hypotheses to the attack: reprisals by criminal groups that opposed a recent crackdown on border smuggling or even the hand of the Kremlin. “A Russian link should not be ruled out at all, we know their ability to orchestrate attacks in other countries,” said Oleksandr Korniienko, one of the party’s leaders.
Vladimir Putin’s spokesman, Dmitri Peskov, categorically rejected the accusation of Zelensky’s party and has stated that Kiev sees “Russian footprints” behind all its problems, which he described as “signs of a heightened emotional state”.
Serhiy Shefir, in addition to being the president’s main adviser and closest confidante, is one of his closest friends. Together with his brother, he helped Zelenski found the theater group Kvartal 95, which they named after their neighborhood and which would ultimately be the production company that would lead the actor to stardom: first as the fictional president of the series Servant of the People and then as royal president from 2019 to today. “The assassination attempt was carried out in order to intimidate the upper echelon of the government,” Shefir said at a press conference hours after the incident. “The objective has been the psychological state of the president,” said Shefir.
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