Ukrainian Presidential Aide’s Car Shot At in Kyiv, Police Say
(Bloomberg) -- A car carrying a close aide of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy was shot at in Kyiv in an apparent attempt to murder an official at the heart of a crackdown on the country’s biggest businessmen.
While the adviser, 57-year-old Serhiy Shefir, escaped unscathed, his driver was wounded in Wednesday’s incident, according to a police statement. Prosecutors said 18 bullets were fired at the vehicle.
The attack “can’t be qualified in any other way than an attempt to demonstratively murder a key member of the team,” Mykhailo Podolyak, an adviser to Zelenskiy’s chief of staff, said by text message.
He linked the assassination bid to efforts to reduce the influence of tycoons on politics -- an issue that’s dogged the country of 41 million since the collapse of communism three decades ago.
Zelenskiy, who’s currently in New York for the United Nations General Assembly, has enjoyed in a boost in his flagging popularity of late as he seeks to curb corruption by reining in the country’s so-called oligarchs.
History of Violence
A law determining who should be included in that group is awaiting approval from parliament. Opponents say the government should instead do more to improve law enforcement and strengthen the judiciary.
Other officials have experienced hostility when pushing back against big business, notably at the central bank, where a former governor received death threats and saw her house in the Ukrainian capital burned to the ground in an arson attack in 2019.
Violence has frequently tainted politics in Ukraine. In April 2015 a writer who backed ousted-President Viktor Yanukovych was shot dead, while a car bomb killed a prominent journalist the following year. In 2017, a former Russian lawmaker who fled Moscow and was critical of President Vladimir Putin was murdered in Kyiv.
The attack on Shefir, a former business partner of Zelenskiy from his days as a TV comic, won’t derail Ukraine’s efforts to subdue Ukraine’s billionaires, according to Serhiy Nykyforov, a spokesman for the president.
That direction “won’t change,” he said on Facebook.
Zelenskiy said he’d return to Kyiv on Wednesday, calling Shefir a friend.
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