By Stefan J. Bos, Chief International Correspondent Worthy News
(Worthy News) – Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy confirmed Wednesday that his top aid was shot at while being driven in a car outside Kyiv, in what authorities called “an assassination attempt.”
The adviser, 57-year-old Serhiy Shefir, wasn’t injured in the attack, but the car driver was wounded and hospitalized, officials confirmed.
“Saying hello to me by shooting from the woods at the car of my friend is weakness,” President Zelensky said.
Wednesday’s attack occurred while Zelensky was in New York for the United Nations General Assembly meeting. He was due to condemn Russia’s perceived military intervention in eastern Ukraine, where Moscow supports pro-Russian separatists.
The Ukrainian president also sought to rally diplomatic backing for Kyiv after receiving military support from the United States.
Dressed in a blue hoodie, looking visibly shaken and suddenly roused from sleep, Zelensky said he would immediately return to Kyiv, the capital, after his Wednesday speech.
MOSCOW DENIES ROLE
Russia was quick to deny having a role in the attack, but Zelensky kept all options open. “Who is behind this? Frankly, I don’t know,” he said in video footage seen by Worthy News.
“What are these powers? It could be internal, maybe external,” he added.
Ukrainian law enforcement officials have accused assassins associated with Russia’s intelligence services of being behind the attack.
Mykhailo Podolyak, an adviser to Zelensky’s chief of staff, reportedly linked Wednesday’s shootings to the president’s efforts to limit the influence of oligarchs on politics in Ukraine.
The attack also came amid tensions over Russia’s annexation of Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula and the war in eastern Ukraine between Ukrainian government forces and Russian-backed separatists. Devoted Christians have also complained that many religious books have been banned in areas controlled by rebels.
Zelensky condemned Wednesday’s apparently attempted killing of his adviser and friend but warned, “the response will be strong.”
Back in Kyiv, his deputy interior minister, Anton Gerashchenko, called the attack “serious,” adding: “It was a real assassination attempt.”
BULLETS RIDDLING CAR
Irina Venediktova, Ukraine’s prosecutor general, released a picture of the driver’s side of Shefir’s black Audi riddled with bullets.
There were at least 10 bullet holes in the vehicle, according to witnesses.
The driver, whose name was not immediately released, was shot three times and hospitalized. He was undergoing surgery, according to the authorities.
Shefir is a longtime adviser to the Ukrainian president and is considered Zelensky’s closest confidant.
Along with his brother and Zelensky in 2003, they founded Kvartal 95, a television production company that produced numerous popular shows. It also propelled Zelensky, a former comedian who played the role of a president in a television series, to nationwide fame.
In 2019, Zelensky used his popularity to win the presidency and turn his tv role into reality.
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