Read the original text at carnegie.ru.
The return of global influence through crossing of red lines and the fear of unexpected actions is working against Russia. Now any unpleasant surprise can be written off to Russia. Charges at the highest level prior to the beginning of the investigation are far from the idea of building a law-based state, but the temptation to supplement the plot about the unpredictable Kremlin is great not only in Ukraine.
The fate of the former State Duma deputy from Russia’s Communist Party Denys Voronenkov, who first voted for Crimea joined Russia and was happy with that, and after losing his deputy status became a citizen of Ukraine, looked like a sketch of the future of many representatives of the Russian elite. The times of Vladimir Putin are not eternal, after them Russian politicians, law enforcement officials, officials would have to change their behavior, and Voronenkov's choice is one of the options. Until yesterday. Voronenkov was shot in the center of Kyiv, the killer, who was injured by the guard of the ex-deputy, died in the hospital. The disclosure of contract killings, especially political murders, is a rare thing. For example, in Russia, the murder of Vladislav Listyev (1995) has not yet been investigated, and in Kyiv the killers of Pavel Sheremet (2016) are not found yet.
The truth is true
When symbolic figures become victims of bullets or explosions (and Voronenkov became such a figure after the change of citizenship), the search for real “customers” is often not that important: everything is clear and obvious. President of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko publicly called the event "an act of state terrorism" by Russia, before receiving any data. "It was Kremlin’s typical demonstrational murder of the witness," said Prosecutor General of Ukraine Yuriy Lutsenko before the trial and investigation. In classical diplomacy and international relations, such statements, especially in the first hours after a loud event, are impossible; they violate the unspoken canons of law.
The problem is that the relations between Russia and Ukraine after the events in Donbas border became abnormal. Vladimir Putin might accuse the leadership of a neighboring country of aggravating hostilities in Donbas to "get some charity from the European Union, from certain European countries, the United States, and international financial institutions, presenting themselves as a victim of aggression." Head of the Investigation Committee, Alexander Bastrykin, in 2015, tried to convict Arseniy Yatsenyuk of participating in the Chechen war on the side of the separatists. The exchange of views between the two countries has long been in the mode of propaganda, and the assassination of Denys Voronenkov for each side represents an ideal propaganda base, no matter how cynical it might sound.
The enemy of Russia
The death of Voronenkov is really beneficial to the Russian authorities, it is very difficult to argue with this statement. Former (and current) deputies of the State Duma left the country before - for example, the oppositionist Ilya Ponomarev did this. His life abroad was of little interest to the Kremlin, although the case against Ponomarev was initiated. But Voronenkov cannot be called a rank-and-file deputy, even an irregular parliamentarian may not be very knowledgeable about the realities of Russian domestic policy with its power component. Voronenkov knew the "power’s kitchen". He was a colonel of the Federal Drug Control Service of Russia (FDCSR) during the war of this service, or rather, its head, one of the old colleagues of Vladimir Putin, Viktor Cherkesov and the FSB.
Voronenkov knew the situation from the inside: maybe he was not aware of the latest struggle of the Kremlin's powerbrokers, its hidden springs and mechanisms, but the past wars he understood not bad. In an interview with Novaya Gazeta, FDCSR General Alexander Bulbov, the chief victim of the battle of his department with the FSB (arrested during the so-called Three Whales case), doubted that Voronenkov "possesses valuable information that could damage Russia's national security." However, even the very scheme of the special services, about which the former deputy and former colonel knew firsthand, could well be interesting to many people.
And such a valuable man leaves Russia, begins to cooperate with the authorities of Ukraine, being openly unfriendly with the Russian authorities. In addition, Voronenkov in his interview with the Ukrainian media stressed his awareness of the Kremlin and Lubyanka secret affairs (for example, he called Alexei Navalny an agent of the FSB). "Navalny has long became an effective tool of a certain group in the FSB, through which business clans are cracking down on rivals: first with Prosecutor General Chaika, now with Prime Minister Medvedev. And criminal cases against Navalny are fake, otherwise he would have been in prison for a long time. The FSB deliberately depicts Navalny as a hero," Voronenkov assured Ukrainians.
The ex-MP volunteered to stand as a witness in the state treason case of the former Ukraine’s president Viktor Yanukovych. Enough is enough, and the enemies of the Russian government, from Alexander Litvinenko and Boris Nemtsov to Boris Berezovsky, often die not with their own death. Denys Voronenkov, who assured that he opposed the annexation of Crimea, was not averse to fighting in ATO, testified against Yanukovych, could be easily included in the number of victims of the Russian regime.
Kremlin's powerbrokers with a secret
Russia has something to oppose the Ukrainian point of view. Voronenkov in Russian propaganda is also a symbol, but with a different sign. This was a year ago when "inter-factional child" of the Communist MP and the representative of the power party in the State Duma, Maria Maksakova, was the subject of many news stories and personified the Crimean party consensus, while Voronenkov himself fought against the Pokemon Go game. Last weeks the news stories about the former deputy referred to him as a traitor, and a criminal case was filed against him about fraud.
Even before the flight of Voronenkov, Aleksei Navalny discovered that the former communist had five apartments and a solid car park (with the "Bentley"). Russian official media outlets and pro-government politicians also cite the versions of the murder of Voronenkov, who look not so implausible. While working for FDCSR, the ex-deputy did not shy away from the most legitimate methods of interaction with business, he tried to "solve questions" about initiating and repealing criminal cases, in addition, during a break between the Federal Drug Control Service and the State Duma, he managed to stay a merchant himself.
Could the former partners be offended by Voronenkov? Why not, in addition, Ukraine did not provide security to this valuable defector: this version (especially for the Russian viewer) is quite plausible. Not the most honest former security officeal got a deputy mandate for himself, he could not prolong it, he left the country, but his enemies overtook him. All this fits into the idea of a Russian philistine.
There were even more exotic stories: for example, that Voronenkov could be killed by the former civil husband of his wife Maria Maksakova, authoritative person Vladimir Tyurin. "We must understand that the SBU under the leadership of the CIA could initiate this diversion," Communist Party leader Gennady Zyuganov hastened to declare. It is amazing that no one has voiced a version that Voronenkov was killed by Ukrainian patriots who were offended by his voting for Crimea joining Russia.
If the murder of Voronenkov is not solved, it will be still imprinted in the mind of the world community: the Kremlin is guilty of this. Both Vladimir Putin and Sergey Lavrov, and numerous deputies and senators, and the Kremlin's powerbrokers, and the rest of the cavalry, for too long, created a brutal image of the violator of all secret rules of international cohabitation.
They took the opportunity and took the Crimea, in the Donbas, the "volunteers" who came from the army, who had just retired from the army, were fighting. Of course, in the general words and official statements, the Kremlin always has nothing to do with it, but it is always followed by an unambiguous wink: "We could, of course, if we wanted to, reach Kiev within two weeks."
The Kremlin creates an image of an evil trickster that, for the sake of correcting an unjust world order, can violate any boundaries. To promote this image, it did not need the services of well-known PR agencies. Western politicians try to recognize this influence: for example, Russian presidential candidate Emmanuel Macron says about attacks by Russian hackers. Until recently, the Kremlin favorably took such statements: they are scared - it means they respect. "The Russians did it," such a meme became popular abroad. But the same fear gives rise to problems: maybe they are afraid, they do they really respect Russia? Any troubles and misadventures can now be safely dumped on Russia, which itself assumed this role.
The death of Denys Voronenkov fits in a vicious line: instead of keeping silent in response to the strange excesses of Petro Poroshenko in the first hour after the murder, which identified the culprit, pro-governmental Russian sources began to throw in various, albeit strange versions. We might blame those who are trying to justify themselves. This impression intensifies against the backdrop of memories of a downed "Boeing". The first days after the catastrophe, official Russian sources issued deliberately implausible versions of Ukrainian attack planes. Numerous versions published after the assassination of Voronenkov, especially for external observers unfamiliar with the complex biography of the ex-MP, are pushing to agree with the usual story about the oppositionist and the Kremlin, even where there may not be enough grounds for this. The events of yesterday did not become a lesson for the Kremlin.