Killing in Kiev – Anatomy of an Assassination


… by Jim W. Dean, VT Editor

Denis Voronenkov

With the heavy news cycle we are in, both domestically and internationally, I did not expect the assassination of Denis Voronenkov to last long in the news. The former Russian MP had a truckload of controversial baggage following him around that seems to have finally caught up with him. But by having him shot down in the street in daylight, someone was sending a very public message.

What that message was will be debated quite heavily I am sure, but Poroshenko was quick off the mark to blame…guess who?…yes, Russia, of course. The shooter is dead, after making it to the hospital full of holes due to one tough bodyguard who got caught up in the classic street shooter from behind attack that got the drop on him and his boss.

That he survived and got the shooter was a combination of bad luck and good, including two huge mistakes that the shooter made. That will be the focus for my effort today, out of gratitude for the street side security camera that recorded the whole event from the rear, almost like a movie scene where the assassin enters the bottom of the screen walking up behind Voronenkov and his bodyguard who had just joined each other and were walking up to the corner.

The dead shooter has been identified as Ukrainian Pavlo Parshov, who was also a former member of, surprise, surprise, of the Ukrainian National Guard, which was heavily populated with Nationalist criminal element.  Poroshenko’s attempt to tag him as a Russian agent include and incident where Parshov walked through a Belarus check point, where it is then surmised that he was quickly trained by the Russians as in infiltrator and sent back to join the Guard. Fake news is mother’s mild to the Ukie government.

If the bodyguard had looked over his shoulder a man of military physic, wearing a hoodie and a possible gun size tote bag would have triggered getting his gun out quickly

The video quality is below average in my screen grab analysis of the shooting below, but does allow the key moments to be seen more clearly that the short normal speed video. Most who watched it I am sure just moved on with their news reading.

But here at VT we have found gold in frame by frame analysis of events like this, one of our best being a night Gordon and I worked through footage of the French policeman that was killed by two of the Charlie Hebdo killers, where we caught one of them shooting a blank at the head of the prone policeman that did nothing to the concrete sidewalk but make a puff of dust.

We got no official thank yous for that, but are quite used to that by now. It goes with the territory we cover. There are a few exceptions from time to time but they are always unofficial.

So I am going to step your through some screen grabs to illustrate what a split second can mean, or not knowing the proper reaction when someone shouts the name of your high value target on the street from behind you. The bodyguard made a goof at the beginning being what we call being “switched off”, in that he was not even taking a quick look around, but made a miraculous recovery.

Voronenkov never had a chance as he had no training, which wealthy bosses often to now want to bother with. But when you are a high value target you have to be a key player in your own security team because it can save your life in an number of ways, like buying your security team a split second more to react that can make all the difference.

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The shooter in white cap (upper center) makes the classic rear attack for a street shooting after Voronenkov and his bodyguard (light jacket) met and turned to walk down the street. In the real world for high target people who want to live, you forget about being glued to your smart phone when out on the street. You actively use your two eyes to be part of your security detail.

But the shooter makes a huge mistake, seeming not to have been briefed about Voronenkov having a the bodyguard, which would be an horrendous planning error. In the real world, you always shoot the bodyguard first because he has a gun, and then the target. A security “team” would have one person covering a rear attack like this but with only one person you have to actively be scanning 360 degrees.

The guy that killed Yitzhak Rabin in 1995 attacked from the rear also, stepping right between the two trailing bodyguards to get a close shot at him, and a fatal one. This could only have been the result of team surveillance to not only spot this rear vulnerability, but also timing it perfectly, which the shooter did.

You can see him in the fuzzy video in the red circle, a horrible security breach to walk Rabin through a crowd of people like that where a close shot can be taken. You see the two trailing guards looking straight ahead, which allow the shooter to step right between them and fire before they even know he is there.  An incredible turn of events here.  Not only does the shooter not shoot the bodyguard first, he calls out “Denis” or “Voronenkov” as he is pulling his gun out, and Voronenkov stops, making himself an easier target. The bodyguard has made a fatal error as you see he has not even turned to look despite an “event” being initiated behind him.

The shooter brings his gun to bear while Voronenkov seems frozen, when his best move is to duck to the right  screen which would draw the shooter’s gun away from the bodyguard to give him a split second to get his out. The target’s only goal at this point is to not stand still and get shot in the head.

But you have to train a client by physically going through the standard types of attacks as the moves have to be instinctive with a bad day comes. The bodyguard did not react, asleep at the wheel, still in pedestrian mode, and he should have only a second or two to live for that mistake.

Next we see the BG has finally turned right and sees what is about to happen, and realizes that he has been has fallen victim to the classic rear attack. He has been “caught cold”, and will remember the sinking feeling in his stomach for the rest of his life.

The shooter pulls the trigger which wakes the bodyguard up. It’s do or die time for him now. Notice his hands are “away” from his belt and coat, meaning he is not going for his gun.

The shooter makes a mistake now, watching Voronenkov go down, not even looking at the BG, who sees this and begins his move. You see his left knee and foot are up and he is gambling on making the few steps to grab the shooter’s gun that is 90 degrees to him. I am thinking here that the bodyguard does not have a quick draw holster and no time to go for his gun fast enough, or god forbid, forgot to bring it with him.

The BG almost makes it to grabbing the gun, but the shooter pivots and steps back at the same time, buying himself a split second that will save him, for a few moments.

The shooter gets a quick shot off, possibly two, but his seeing that the BG dose not have a gun just saved his life, while the shooter only have a few seconds to live.

Because the shooter assumes the guy he just shot at close range was unarmed, he does not finish him of as he should have. As the BG goes down the shooter’s attention instantly turns back to his contracted target.

He gives Voronenkov another round, and makes himself vulnerable to the bodyguard who has an improving angle on him now.

And then he shots Voronenkov a third time. The bodyguard sees his attention is on making sure the target is dead, and not watching him, so the angels have given him a chance. He lifts his head up and begins to draw his gun from his belt.

The shooter makes his last fatal mistake by not making sure that the bodyguard is dead, also. After putting three shots into the target he turns to begin his getaway, always the hardest part in a street killing like this, but he shows his back to the BG, who quickly puts a few rounds into  his back.

Seeing him go down, the BG quickly props himself up to have a steadier shot, and pumps several more rounds into the shooter. A wave of euphoria comes over him now. He now has experienced a miracle in that he is not dead, when he should have been the first shot.

Even though he has been shot in the gut, he gets right up, and has it together enough to look down the street in case there is a back up shooter.

The adrenaline rush subsides and having been shot at close range, the pain comes now.

But he still has it together enough to check on his client,but it’s too late for Mr. Voronenkov. If you watch the video now without stopping, you will see it is hard to catch it all in real time. But you will see how a split second is life or death, like be able to move your head six inches, of spotting an approach before they get very close.

Even an extra distance of 5 or 6 feet is a huge advantage versus your being in “he can’t miss range”. Movement was the only chance Voronenkov had in a situation like this. You are probably going to get shot but you are giving your BG time to get the guy.


Video – Scroll down the RT page a bit for the 1:12 clip

The shooter initiates at 17 seconds, his attack lasting eight seconds. It looks quicker in the video as it is not full motion video (compressed), but the time is correct. The bodyguard counter attacks at 25-34 seconds…nine whole seconds devoted to eliminating the threat. He knocks him down, even from a poor shooting position, one where you have to have practiced this a lot on the shooting range. And once he has the guy down his training has clicked in to get a better shooting position and shoot him several more times to make sure his is dead.

You can put several rounds into someone with a good vest on, and they can still kill you if you give them the chance. That is why close combat professionals always go for finishing head shots. It’s the only way to be sure that you are going home alive.

The poor widow is dragged to the scene of the killing to confirm the ID, leaving that memory etched in her brain for no good reason



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