The youngest son of a wealthy Ukrainian businessman was killed by a stray bullet when a gunman opened fire on his dad’s car. The father is a member of Kiev city council, though what exactly made him a target remains unclear.
Vyacheslav Sobolev and his family were attacked on Sunday right after they left a restaurant that he owns in central Kiev. The gunman shot at the man’s Range Rover at a crossroads right next to the posh establishment.
The businessman is presumed to have been the intended target, but was unharmed. Instead, the youngest of his five children, his three-year-old son Aleksandr, was hit in the head by a bullet.
Sobolev realized what had happened after his wife Inna, who was with their boy in the back seat, cried out, according to Ukrainian media reports.
Vyacheslav Sobolev and his wife Inna.
He carried Aleksandr out calling for help. An ambulance soon arrived and took the injured boy to a nearby hospital, but by the time they arrived the child was already dead.
The gunman was seen fleeing the scene in a Lexus car. Kiev police launched a city-wide manhunt.
On Monday, Interior Minister Arsen Avakov announced the police managed to take into custody several persons of interest, among whom, they believe, are the shooter and his accomplices. He promised to provide more details during a media briefing later in the day.
Sobolev is among some Ukrainian businessmen and politicians who prefer to keep a low profile. Originally from the Donetsk region, he started his career as owner of a retail chain in the provincial capital, Donetsk, as well as being a member of its legislature and its deputy mayor.
He went into national politics in the mid-2000s as part of the political movement of then-Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko and held several positions, including in security, defense and energy; but his rise was cut short by Tymoshenko’s downfall in 2010.
Sobolev’s political luck changed again in mid-2015, when he attracted the backing of then-President Petro Poroshenko. With the ruling political party behind his back he deflected several attacks on his reputation, which sought to tie him with the now-rebellious Donetsk region and Russia – an accusation that could get a person into a lot of trouble in Ukraine. Sobolev represents Poroshenko’s party on the Kiev city council.
It was not immediately clear who might be behind the attack on Sobolev. He’s had several public conflicts with competitors and rivals over the years and even complained about receiving thinly-veiled death threats in 2016.
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