KIEV, Ukraine. — Shots were fired at the car of a top aide to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky outside Kiev on Wednesday morning, in what police are calling an assassination attempt.
Ukrainian police said in a statement that a car that Serhiy Shefir was traveling in came under fire in the village of Lisnyky at about 10 a.m., with more than 10 bullets hitting the vehicle. The driver of the car was injured.
A special police operation is underway to search for the perpetrators and police are appealing for information about the circumstances of the “assassination attempt on the lives of two Ukrainian citizens.”
Zelensky, who is in New York for the UN General Assembly, said he did not know for now who was responsible for the attack, which has shocked the country’s political elite.
“I don’t know yet who stood behind this,” said Zelensky, Reuters reported. “Sending me a message by shooting my friend is weakness.”
A politician from Zelensky’s ruling party, David Arahamiya, told Ukrinform state news agency that Shefir was in a “state of shock” but not injured.
“I had a short conversation with him … He says that he was shot at, but the driver was hit … The car was shot with an automatic weapon, as far as I know. The driver received three gunshot wounds, he was hospitalized, ” Arahamiya said.
Mykhailo Podoliak, an adviser to the head of the office of the President of Ukraine, told Ukrinform that the incident could not be seen as anything other than a “deliberate” attempt to “kill a key member of the team.”
“It is obvious that this open, deliberate and extremely brutal attack with the use of automatic weapons cannot be qualified other than an attempt to demonstratively kill a key member of the team,” Podoliak said.
While authorities have not determined who is responsible or a motive yet, Podoliak said it could be connected to policies aimed at reducing the “traditional influence” of oligarchs.
“I will say at once that we certainly associate this attack with an aggressive and even militant campaign against the active policy of the head of state,” Podoliak added.