The car of the chief aide to Ukraine's president. Photo: National Police

The gunfire made headlines worldwide and is linked to the anti-corruption work of the government, says Zelensky’s press officer.

Serhiy Shefir, a chief aide to President Volodymyr Zelensky, was attacked in his car by gunfire in the village Lisniki in the Kyiv region at 10 am yesterday, according to a post on Facebook by the National Police in Ukraine. They report that more than ten bullets were fired and that the driver was hurt. Shefir was unhurt, according to the President.

“Serhiy is alive; the driver, unfortunately, is wounded,” Zelensky said in a video on Telegram after the attack, “Now he is in the hospital, law enforcement officers are working on the spot, and an interception plan has been introduced.”

“What are these forces? They can be internal or external. But I don’t consider them forces, because it’s weak to send me a “hello” by shooting from the forest at my friend’s car. But the answer will be strong,” he added while being in New York to address the United Nations General Assembly on Wednesday and said that he would be heading back to Kyiv soon.

“I don’t understand the reasons. I understand that we were driving, suddenly shots were fired, the driver was injured,” Shefir said, according to Kyiv Post, “It was scary.”

“In my opinion, the goal was to intimidate the highest echelons of power, but President Zelensky cannot be intimidated,” added Shefir.

Who was behind the attacks?

The police still haven’t arrested the attackers, and it is, therefore, uncertain who is behind the attacks. However, Prosecutor General Iryna Venediktova said that the police are doing everything to find them and called on everyone with information to share it with the police.

Shefir is a known person in Ukraine. He led Zelensky’s election headquarters when Zelensky was elected President back in 2019 and has been his chief aid ever since. There has been a lot of speculation about why he was attacked, and Zelenskyy’s press secretary Serhiy Nikiforov shared his view about the events on Facebook yesterday.

“As of now, it can be said that the perpetrator of the assassination attempt, as well as the customers and their accomplices, will not escape punishment,” he wrote, “And also that the course of the President’s Office on the de-shadowing and de-oligarchisation of Ukraine will not change, and no insidious actions will affect it.”

The attack came as the Ukrainian parliament was about to vote about a deoligarchization bill in the second hearing. The draft defines what an oligarch is and would eliminate their possibility of donating to political parties and could privatize their assets.

According to Kyiv Post, Timothy Ash, a London-based analyst for BlueBay Asset Management, also speculated about the reasons for the attack.

“Back to the old days of oligarch wars? Guess people thought the country was beyond this kind of thing. Guess we did have the attacks on former NBU management, clearly related to the banking reform story,” he said.

The car of the chief aide to Ukraine’s president. Photo: National Police

David Arakhamia, the head of the president’s political party Servant of the People, speculated that maybe Russia could be behind the attack. Still, Russian presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov denied any Russian involvement in the attack.

“Regrettably, whatever may happen in Ukraine these days, none of the current politicians is unable to rule out a ‘Russian connection,’” Peskov said in a statement, according to Tass, “Of course, this has nothing to do with the real state of affairs. It is rather evidence of an excessively exalted emotional condition.”

The speech at the United Nations

Zelensky held his speech at the United Nations before he rushed back to Kyiv afterward. In the speech, he mentioned the attack on Shefir and called on the UN to wake up.

“Here is the price of change in the state; here is the price of reforms,” he said.

“I can say without flattery and cunning: Ukraine did it a long time ago; since then, it has not fallen asleep. It did not fall asleep when it survived the Holodomor, Babyn Yar. Did not fall asleep when the whole world survived two wars, the Holocaust, lost 100 million people. This was the price for humanity to realize that all nations, all countries are equal, and all conflicts must be resolved through dialogues and only through dialogues, not tanks. Believing this, in 1945 Ukraine became one of the founding members of the United Nations. Today, they would be shocked to see the words “ensure the rights of all peoples” in the theme of the General Assembly. I’m sure they would say, “What have you been doing all these 76 years?” he asked the assembly and called on the UN to step up.

“Is it time to wake up? Honestly – Ukraine did not fall asleep. It is difficult to do so due to the sounds of explosions, the sounds of shots being heard in our occupied Donbas for the eighth year in a row. In 2019, I said from this rostrum: the war in Ukraine is more than 13 thousand dead. 30 thousand wounded. Imagine: one and a half million people are forced to leave their homes. Every year these figures are heard in the UN with only one amendment – every year, unfortunately, these figures are growing. I talked about this in 2020. And I’m talking about it now, in 2021. And this is almost 15 thousand people killed already. And even more, wounded. And even more homeless people.”

“Probably shots are not heard as loudly in Central Park or Madison Square Garden as in Avdiivka industrial zone or Svitlodarsk Arc. We want to revive the UN? Maybe the UN should move for this? Be mobile and fast? Maybe it’s time for us to meet where we can really hear and see these global problems? There are thousands of trouble spots in the world. Ukraine is ready to participate in UN meetings alongside any of them. In my opinion, the truth is needed to revive the UN,” he added.