A top adviser to the Ukrainian president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, has survived an assassination attempt that officials suggest is tied to a political battle with criminal and corrupt interests, including the countries’ oligarchs, according to The Guardian.
At least 10 bullets struck the car of Serhiy Shefir, an aide and longtime friend of Zelenskiy, on Wednesday as he travelled through the village of Lesnyky toward the capital, Kyiv.
The driver was struck three times and is undergoing surgery. Shefir was not hit by the gunfire, which reportedly came from a forested area along the road.
Photographs showed police had marked at least 10 bullet holes in the black Audi sedan used by Shefir, a business partner of Zelenskiy for nearly two decades. The automatic gunfire was concentrated along the driver’s side door, also striking the windscreen and a back tyre.
Police have not arrested any suspects. Moscow, which is engaged in a simmering proxy war with Kyiv in south-east Ukraine, has denied responsibility for the attack.
Zelenskiy stated he would cut short a trip to New York after addressing the United Nations general assembly.
“I will honestly say that I don’t know who was behind this,” said Zelenskiy in a video message after the attack. “These could be internal or external forces. But I don’t consider them to be strong because sending me a ‘hello’ by firing from a forest into the automobile of my friend is weakness.
Shefir appeared at a news conference later on Wednesday, thanking emergency workers and his “hero” driver, who is in critical condition.
“The assassination attempt was carried out in an effort to frighten the upper echelon of government,” Shefir said. “But you need to understand that the president … is a very strong-willed person who is not easily frightened.”