© Reuters Bullet marks have been attached to the car of Serie Schaefer, a key aide to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, following an attack outside the Ukrainian capital, Kiev.
Written by Pavel Polytech and Natalia Zenets
KIYAVE (Reuters) – A car carrying a senior aide to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky was hit by an automatic rifle in a car on Wednesday, an incident that a senior official called an assassination attempt, and Zelensky said there could be a message for him.
Assistant Serie Schaefer survived but police said his driver was injured in more than 10 shots fired at a car near the village of Lesniki, just outside the capital Kiev.
According to a local television station, at least 1 bullet hole could be seen next to the driver of the vehicle.
Police said in a statement that they have filed a criminal case on suspicion of pre-planned murder.
Zelensky, who is in New York for the UN General Assembly, said he did not know who was responsible for the attack, which shocked the country’s political elite.
“I still don’t know who was behind it,” Zelensky said. “It’s a weakness to shoot my friend and send me a message.”
Shafir is close to Zelensky and leads a team of advisers.
Zelensky came to power with a promise to take action against the country’s oligarchs and fight corruption, and Mikhailo Podoliak, one of his advisers, said the assassination attempt could be the result of a campaign against the oligarchs.
Zelensky said he would double down on his planned reforms instead of backing down.
“It does not affect the strength of our team, the method I have chosen with my team – to change, to clean up our economy, to fight crime and the big influential financial groups,” he said.
“It doesn’t affect it. On the contrary, because the people of Ukraine have ordered me to change.”
Pedoliak, Zelensky’s adviser, vowed to crack down on the elite after the attack.
“This open, deliberate and highly violent attack with automatic weapons cannot be distinguished from an attempt to assassinate a key member of the group,” Podoliak told Reuters.
“We, of course, associate this attack with an offensive even militant campaign against the active policy of the head of state,” Interfax Ukraine quoted Podoliak as saying separately.
Parliament is due to debate this week over a presidential law aimed at reducing the influence of oligarchs in Ukrainian society.
Oleksandr Kornienko, head of Zelensky’s political party, said Russia’s involvement in the attack should not be ruled out.
“No sign of Russia should be blown up at all. We know their ability to organize terrorist attacks in different countries,” Kornienko told reporters.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said the proposals for Russia’s involvement were broad.
He said they have nothing to do with reality.