Ukrainian leader promises “firm response” after gunshots at car of assistant during assassination attempt | World news
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy has warned that “the response will be strong” after a key aide survives an assassination attempt.
At least 10 bullets hit the car of Serhiy Shefir, the main collaborator and close personal friend of Mr Zelenskiy, outside Kiev on Wednesday.
The driver of his black Audi was seriously injured and taken to hospital, but Mr Shefir escaped unharmed.
It is not known who fired and the shooter is still on the run.
Mr. Zelenskiy issued a warning to the aggressor from New York, where he is attending the United Nations General Assembly.
He said he did not know who was responsible for the attack, but promised “a firm response”.
âThese forces can be internal or external. But I don’t see them as strong because to send me a ‘hello’ while shooting from a forest in my friend’s car is a weakness,â he said.
“This [attack] will not affect the strength of our team.
“This does not affect the path of change that I have chosen with my team, to bring our economy out of the shadows, to fight against the criminal elements with large influential financial groups – on the contrary, because the Ukrainian people gave a mandate for change. “
Mr Shefir praised his driver for acting “heroically” by accelerating away from the shooter as “the shots rang out”.
He added: “We had to speed up a bit, it was scary.”
Mr Shefir also said he believed he had been targeted for the purpose of intimidating the “highest echelon of power”, but added that would not work.
He said: “You have to understand that our president [Zelenskiy] is very strong-willed, he has a backbone and cannot be intimidated. “
The Kremlin has denied any Russian involvement.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov added that any suggestion of a link with Russia showed “signs of an overly excited emotional state.”
He said: “Unfortunately nowadays, whatever happens in Ukraine, none of the current politicians are able to exclude the Russian trace.”
Ukraine has seen a huge increase in violence since the start of its conflict with Russia in 2014 during the annexation of the Crimean peninsula.
Since then, several military and political officers have been the target of assassination attempts, with seven deaths between 2016 and 2017 alone in the Ukrainian capital Kiev.
The attack came just days before Ukrainian politicians debated Mr Zelenskiy’s bill on cracking down on the country’s powerful oligarchs, who dominate the economic and political landscape.
On Thursday, the day after the shooting, Ukraine’s parliament passed a law prohibiting oligarchs from funding political parties or participating in privatizations.
It must now be approved by the President to enter into force.