A volley of shots was fired at a car carrying the principal aide of the Ukrainian president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, in what a senior official has called an assassination attempt.
More than 10 bullets hit the car near the village of Lesnyky, about three miles (5km) outside the capital, Kyiv, on Wednesday, wounding the driver, a police statement said. It said a criminal case on suspicion of premeditated murder had been opened.
A local television station said at least 19 bullet holes could be seen on the driver’s side of the car.
A senior lawmaker said the aide, Serhiy Shefir, was not hurt. Shefir is close to the president, leading a group of advisers. The head of the president’s political party, Oleksandr Korniienko, said Russia could be behind the attack.
“A Russian trace should not be absolutely ruled out. We know their ability to organise terrorist attacks in different countries,” Korniienko told reporters.
The Kremlin said suggestions of Russian involvement “have nothing to do with reality”.
Zelinskiy said he did not know who was behind the attack but that it could domestic or foreign “powers”. “If someone is sending me a message by opening fire on my friend, that is weakness,” he said.
Zelenskiy, who came to power on a promise to take on the country’s oligarchs and fight corruption, is in the US at the UN general assembly. Mykhailo Podolyak, a Zelenskiy adviser, said the assassination attempt could be a result of the president’s bid to reduce the power of the oligarchs.
“This open, deliberate and extremely violent assault with automatic weapons cannot be qualified any differently than as an attempted killing of a key team member,” Podolyak told Reuters.
“We, of course, associate this attack with an aggressive and even militant campaign against the active policy of the head of state,” Interfax Ukraine quoted Podolyak as saying.
“The president’s policy aimed at fundamental transformation of the state will remain unchanged,” he told Reuters, promising tougher measures against oligarchs. The Ukrainian parliament is this week due to debate a presidential law directed on reducing the influence of oligarchs.