Denis Voronenkov

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Denis Voronenkov
Денис Вороненков
Denis Voronenkov (1).jpg
Member of the State Duma
In office
21 December 2011 – 5 October 2016
Personal details
Denis Nikolayevich Voronenkov

(1971-04-10)10 April 1971
Gorky, Russian SFSR, Soviet Union
Died23 March 2017(2017-03-23) (aged 45)
Kiev, Ukraine
Cause of deathAssassination
Political partyUnity (2000–2003)
Independent (2003–2011; 2016–2017)
Communist Party of the Russian Federation (2011–2016)
AwardsMedal "For Distinguished Service to the Drug Control Authorities", 3rd degree (2006)[1]
Military service
Allegiance Soviet Union
Branch/serviceSoviet Army
Russian Ground Forces
Years of service1988–1999

Denis Nikolayevich Voronenkov (Russian: Денис Николаевич Вороненков, IPA: [dʲɪˈnʲis vərɐˈnʲɛnkəf]; 10 April 1971 – 23 March 2017) was a Russian politician who served as a member of the State Duma from 2011 to 2016. He was a member of the Unity party from 2000 to 2003 and the Communist Party of the Russian Federation from 2011 to 2016.

Voronenkov was born in Gorky, Russian SFSR. He studied at the Suvorov Military School before joining the Soviet Army. In 1999, he left the military to begin a career in politics. In 2001, he became an advisor to the Supreme Court of the Russian Federation, then being selected as the Deputy Mayor of Naryan-Mar and Deputy Governor of Nenets Autonomous District. Voronenkov then joined the Communist Party and was elected to the State Duma in 2011. In the 2016 legislative election he lost his seat to United Russia candidate Vladimir Panov.

The following month, Voronenkov renounced his Russian citizenship and emigrated to Ukraine with his wife, Maria Maksakova Jr. There he became a vocal critic of Russian president, Vladimir Putin, and Russian foreign policy. Although as a member of the State Duma, he had voted for Russia's annexation of Crimea, while in Ukraine he argued that the annexation had been illegal. In early 2017, the Investigative Committee of Russia opened a case to look into Voronenkov's suspected corruption, and an investigation by the anti-corruption blogger and Russian opposition figure Alexei Navalny found that Voronenkov possessed significantly more assets than his officially-declared income would allow.

Voronenkov was shot dead in Kiev by a Ukrainian national, Pavel Parshov. Ukrainian prosecutors believe that it had been a contract killing (arranged by an FSB officer) while the country's then-president, Petro Poroshenko, alleged that it had been orchestrated by the Russian government.

Personal life and family[edit]

Voronenkov was born in Gorky (now Nizhny Novgorod), Russian SFSR, but had a Ukrainian grandmother and (according to his widow) spent his childhood in Ukraine's Kherson Oblast.[2] Voronenkov married former fellow Russian MP and opera singer[3] Maria Maksakova Jr. in March 2015.[4][5] The couple met while working on a bill regulating the export of cultural artifacts.[5] Each of them had two children from previous relationships.[6] Their son was born in April 2016.[7] Voronenkov's first two children are his daughter Xenia (b. 2000) and his son Nikolay from his first marriage with Yulia.[1]


As the son of a serviceman, Voronenkov won a place in the Leningrad Suvorov Military School, from which he graduated in 1988 and then immediately joined the Soviet Army.[1] In 1995 he completed a diploma level officers course at the Military University of the Ministry of Defence of the Russian Federation, prior to his transfer to the Military Prosecutor's Office of the Russian Federation.[1] In 1996 he did another course at the Faculty of Law of Ryazan State University.[1] In 1999, at the Moscow Academy of the Ministry of Internal Affairs for the Russian Federation he successfully defended his thesis for the Degree of Candidate for Legal Sciences, titled 'Legal Nihilism and Legal Idealism (Theoretical and Legal Research)', Doctor of Law.[1] In 2009 he defended his thesis on 'Theoretical and normative basis of judicial control in the mechanism of separation of powers', at the Russian Legal Academy of the Ministry of Justice of the Russian Federation.[1]


Voronenkov eventually came to hold the rank of colonel in the Russian army.[8] He had worked in military and federal law enforcement since 1995, joining the Military Prosecutor's Office of the Russian Federation, initially as an investigator.[1][a] He had reached the position of deputy prosecutor by the time he left the military in 1999 in order to enter politics. In 2000 Voronenkov became an employee for the State Duma faction of the Unity party.[1] In 2001 he became an advisor of the Supreme Court of the Russian Federation before becoming the Deputy Mayor of Naryan-Mar and Deputy Governor of Nenets Autonomous District.[1] Voronenkov then worked for the Federal Drug Control Service of Russia from 2004 until 2007.[1][9][b] He then pursued an academic career as an associate professor; his last post before being elected an MP was (from February 2010) at the St. Petersburg Institute of International Trade, Economics and Law.[1][10]

Political career[edit]

Voronenkov was elected as a deputy for the Communist Party of the Russian Federation in the State Duma, the lower house of the Russian parliament, in 2011.[3][7]

Voronenkov lost his bid for reelection in September 2016, taking third place (13.99%) in constituency No.129, located in his native Nizhny Novgorod Oblast, well behind the winner, United Russia candidate Vladimir Panov (42.39%).[1] He stepped down from the State Duma in October.[11] Later that month, Voronenkov announced that he had given up his Russian citizenship and left for Ukraine,[12][13] where he was naturalized as a Ukrainian citizen in December.[4][14] Voronenkov said that he had no intention of entering Ukrainian politics.[7] He was expelled from the Communist Party in 2016.[1]

After he moved to Ukraine, he became known as a sharp critic of Russian president Vladimir Putin and Russian policy towards Ukraine. Before stepping down as an MP in Russia, he had however taken part in the parliamentary vote to annex Crimea from Ukraine, for which he was criticised in Ukraine.[3] Although his vote was registered, he stated that he was not present in parliament on that day.[7] In 2014 he had also voiced support for the breakaway regions of Novorossiya in the east of Ukraine, which added to the criticism of him in Ukraine. In 2017 he was however an outspoken critic of Russian intervention in Ukraine and elsewhere, e.g. in Transnistria, Abkhazia and South Ossetia.[7] In an interview with Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty in February 2017, Voronenkov compared Russia under Vladimir Putin to Nazi Germany and called the Russian annexation of Crimea both illegal and a mistake.[7] He described the atmosphere in Russia as characterised by a "pseudo-patriotic frenzy" and "total fear".[7] At the time of his death, he had been due to testify against former Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovych.[15]

According to Voronenkov, he was persecuted in Russia by the Federal Security Service whom he accused of being involved in drug trafficking.[4] In October 2016 the Russian Prosecutor-General's Office refused to launch a probe against Voronenkov recommended by the Investigative Committee of Russia.[12] Nevertheless, Voronenkov was accused later of being involved in an illegal property seizure (worth 127 million rubles[16]) in Moscow.[12] Russian investigators were preparing a criminal case against Voronenkov, but were waiting for his parliamentary immunity to run out in December 2016.[9] In March 2017 a court in Moscow had sanctioned Voronenkov's arrest in absentia.[16] Voronenkov himself dismissed the Russian accusations as politically motivated and stated that the Federal Security Service had offered him to write off the accusations against him if he would pay them US$3 million.[17][8]

Voronenkov has been accused by Alexey Navalny and the Anti-Corruption Foundation of using ill-gotten wealth to buy extensive property and automotive holdings worth hundreds of millions of rubles. Voronenkov had multiple properties including a luxury villa worth 300 million rubles, which his annual parliamentary salary of 3 million rubles (his highest ever reported income), given that he has only ever worked in the Russian government, could scarcely have afforded him.[18][19]


Voronenkov was shot dead in Kiev as he left the Premier Palace hotel on March 23, 2017.[9][3][20] Ukraine's General Prosecutor Yuriy Lutsenko stated that Voronenkov was shot at least three times, including in the head, and died instantly.[15] He was on his way to meet Ilya Ponomarev, another former Russian MP living in exile in Ukraine (the only MP to vote against the annexation of Crimea).[15] His assailant was wounded by Voronenkov's bodyguard (who was provided by the Ukrainian Security Service)[3] and taken to a hospital, where he later died from his wounds, according to the authorities.[15] The gunman carried a Ukrainian passport and had been sought by the police on fraud and money laundering charges, according to the General Prosecutor of Ukraine.[15][21] Anton Herashchenko, an official with Ukraine's Interior Ministry and a Ukrainian lawmaker[22] said that the name of the gunman was Pavel Parshov, a Ukrainian citizen and veteran of Ukraine's volunteer paramilitary unit.[22] He also said that Parshov was planted by Russian services as an undercover agent into the National Guard of Ukraine.[23] A police spokesman said the murder was likely a contract killing.[11] Voronenkov's bodyguard was also wounded during the incident.[3]

The president of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko reacted to the murder by calling it an act of Russian "state terrorism". Russian President Vladimir Putin's spokesman, Dmitry Peskov denied being involved and called the claims "absurd". Several other officials also dismissed involvement.[15] Russian MP and former Director of the Russian Federal Security Service Nikolay Kovalyov said to Russian TV that he believed the murder may be linked to a business dispute.[15] Ponomarev reacted to the murder by stating: "I have no words. The security guard was able to injure the attacker. The potential theory is obvious. Voronenkov was not a crook, but an investigator who was fatally dangerous to Russian authorities."[3] Lutsenko called the murder a "typical show execution of a witness by the Kremlin."[24]

A little more than a month before his murder, Voronenkov said that he feared for his own and his family's security, and that he had been "poking a sore spot of the Kremlin" with his criticism of the Russian president.[7] In a March 2017 interview, he referred to "demonization" in Russia and stated, "The system has lost its mind. They say we are traitors in Russia. And I say, 'Who did we betray?"[25]

In 2019 The New York Times Magazine reported that Voronenkov's death was likely to have been related to him benefiting on his co-conspirators in a case of corporate raiding.[26]


Paverl Parshov's papers issued by UNG.

In March, 2017 the Ukrainian National Guard (UNG) identified perpetrator of the crime as Pavlo Parshov (Ukrainian: Павло Паршов), a 28-year-old far-right Ukrainian nationalist and former servant of the National Guard and who was previously suspected in a money-laundering case. He died in custody in intensive care unit from wounds sustained at the scene. His nom de guerre was the Boxer.[26][27] The same month Ukrainian MIA placed on its wanted list Parshov's suspected co-conspirator Yaroslav Levenets (Ukrainian: Ярослав Левенец) who previously served as militant (under the Hunter pseudonym) in the far-right nationalist Right-Sector group and who fought in War in Donbass and had history of arrests for various crimes in the past.[28]

In September 2017 Ukrainian prosecutor's office announced that Vladimir Tyurin (a thief in law who was in relationship with Maria Maksakova Jr. before she married Voronenkov) was hired by Oleg Feoktistov (Russian: Олег Феоктистов), a Russian FSB officer, to organize assassination of Voronenkro. The latter was said to be at odds with Feoktistov. The investigation did not provide any evidence.[26][29][30]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ During this period the Military Prosecutor's Office was acting as the de facto military police of the Russian Armed Forces, with some assistance from ministry of internal affairs OMON units.
  2. ^ Apparently with the permanent rank of major but an acting rank of colonel.


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n "Биография Дениса Вороненкова" [Biography of Denis Voronenkov] (in Russian). TASS. 23 March 2017. Retrieved 17 July 2018.
  2. ^ "«Если бы это была не Украина, никто бы не сводил со мной счеты»" ["If it was not Ukraine, no one would take his scores with me"] (Interview) (in Russian). Meduza. 15 February 2017.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g Walker, Shaun (23 March 2017). "Denis Voronenkov: ex-Russian MP who fled to Ukraine killed in Kiev". The Guardian. Retrieved 23 March 2017.
  4. ^ a b c "Эмигрировавший в Киев экс-депутат от КПРФ Вороненков стал гражданином Украины, критиком ФСБ и присоединения Крыма" [Kiev emigrated to the ex-deputy from the Communist Party Voronenkov became a citizen of Ukraine, a critic of the FSB and the annexation of Crimea]. (in Russian). 14 February 2017. Retrieved 17 July 2018.
    "Экс-депутат Вороненков сравнил Россию с нацистской Германией: "Крым был украден"" [Ex-deputy Voronenkov compared Russia with Nazi Germany: "Crimea was stolen"]. Moskovskij Komsomolets (in Russian). 14 February 2017. Retrieved 17 July 2018.
  5. ^ a b "Russia: MPs find love across the political divide". BBC News. 27 March 2015. Retrieved 17 July 2018.
  6. ^ Mayetnaya, Yelizaveta (28 March 2015). "«Мы все в шоке от этой свадьбы»" ["We are all shocked by this wedding"]. (in Russian). Retrieved 17 July 2018.
  7. ^ a b c d e f g h Miller, Christopher (16 February 2017). "Seen As Turncoats By Moscow, Exiled Duma Pair Blasts Kremlin From Kyiv". Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. Retrieved 23 March 2017.
  8. ^ a b Nemtsova, Anna (17 February 2017). "Russian Whistleblowers Turn on Putin—But Can They Be Trusted?". The Daily Beast. Retrieved 23 March 2017.
  9. ^ a b c "Russian ex-MP Voronenkov shot dead at Kiev hotel". BBC News. 23 March 2017. Retrieved 27 March 2017.
  10. ^ Anin, Roman (15 February 2017). "Призрак коммуниста" [The Ghost of a Communist]. Novaya Gazeta (in Russian) (16). Retrieved 31 March 2017.
  11. ^ a b "Former Russian Parliamentarian and Putin Critic Shot Dead in Kiev". The Moscow Times. 23 March 2017. Retrieved 23 March 2017.
  12. ^ a b c "Former Lawmaker Who Defected To Ukraine Lambasts Russia". Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. 14 February 2017. Retrieved 17 July 2018.
  13. ^ Parfitt, Tom (23 March 2017). "Putin critic shot dead in the streets of Kiev". The Times. Retrieved 23 March 2017.
  14. ^ Vasilyeva, Nataliya (23 March 2017). "Exiled Russian politician shot dead in Ukraine". The Star. Associated Press. Retrieved 23 March 2017.
  15. ^ a b c d e f g Osborne, Samuel (23 March 2017). "Former Russian MP shot dead in Kiev, Ukraine". The Independent. Retrieved 23 March 2017.
  16. ^ a b "Экс-депутат Госдумы РФ Вороненков убит в Киеве" (in Russian). Interfax. 23 March 2017. Retrieved 23 March 2017.
  17. ^ Butenko, Victoria; Hanna, Jason (23 March 2017). "Putin critic Denys Voronenkov shot dead in Ukraine". CNN. Retrieved 23 March 2017.
  18. ^ Ioffe, Julia (23 March 2017). "Murder in Kiev". The Atlantic. Retrieved 23 March 2017.
  19. ^ Navalny, Alexey (21 July 2015). "У него ещё и пистолет" [He also has a pistol] (in Russian). LiveJournal. Retrieved 23 March 2017.
  20. ^ "McCain accuses Russia of 'state terrorism' over political murder". Washington Examiner. 23 March 2017. Retrieved 20 May 2019.
  21. ^ "Розшукові обліки МВС" (in Ukrainian). Ministry of Internal Affairs of Ukraine. 25 November 2011. Archived from the original on 24 March 2017. Retrieved 17 July 2018.
  22. ^ a b "Miller, Christopher (24 March 2017). "Kyiv Identifies Suspected Gunman In Ex-Duma Deputy's Assassination". Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. Retrieved 17 July 2018.
  23. ^ "Геращенко подтвердил, что убийца экс-депутата Госдумы Вороненкова действительно служил в Нацгвардии" (in Russian). Ukrainian Independent Information Agency. 23 March 2017. Retrieved 23 March 2017.
  24. ^ "Former Russian lawmaker Denys Voronenkov shot dead in Ukrainian capital". Deutsche Welle. 23 March 2017. Retrieved 23 March 2017.
  25. ^ Roth, Andrew; Gryvnak, Natalie (23 March 2017). "Gunman in Ukraine kills Putin foe in attack denounced as 'state terrorism'". The Washington Post. Retrieved 17 July 2018.
  26. ^ a b c "He Played by the Rules of Putin's Russia, Until He Didn't: The Story of a Murder". The New York Times Magazine. 5 February 2019. Retrieved 10 February 2019. In September 2017, the Ukrainian prosecutor’s office held a news conference to announce the results of its investigation. Lutsenko, Kononenko and Ponomarev lined up in front of the cameras to announce that law enforcement had solved the case. Under F.S.B. direction, they explained, Vladimir Tyurin — Maksakova’s former partner — hired three Ukrainian radicals through his criminal network: the shooter, whose nom de guerre was the Boxer; an associate, called the Hunter; and the driver, Yaroslav Tarasenko, who was arrested in June but maintained his innocence. “The heads of the F.S.B., together with the heads of the criminal world of Russia, had prepared actions toward the murder — or elimination, from their point of view — of an incredibly valuable witness,” Lutsenko began. [...]
  27. ^ Ведомости (24 March 2017). "В нацгвардии Украины рассказали о карьере убийцы Вороненкова". Retrieved 20 May 2019.
  28. ^ "Радикал-доброволец? Кто помогал убить Вороненкова". (in Russian). Retrieved 20 May 2019.
  29. ^ "Луценко назвал мотивы убийства экс-депутата Госдумы Вороненкова". (in Russian). Retrieved 20 May 2019.
  30. ^ "Facts about Kremlin critics murdered in Ukraine". France 24. 30 May 2018. Retrieved 6 December 2019.