- The Washington Times - Monday, October 16, 2006

1:34 p.m.

MOSCOW (AP) — The top property manager for Russia’s Itar-Tass news agency was found stabbed to death in his Moscow apartment today, prosecutors said.

Anatoly Voronin, 55, was responsible for the state-owned agency’s maintenance, construction, repairs, transport services and employee privileges, such as vacations.

Investigators are looking at various motives but so far consider it most likely that the killing was caused by a “personal grudge,” said Svetlana Petrenko, spokeswoman for the Moscow prosecutor’s office.

Meanwhile, authorities said police have arrested three suspects in the killing of a top Central Bank official, and a newspaper reported that investigators have narrowed their search for those who ordered the apparent contract killing.

The Sept. 13 shooting death of Central Bank First Deputy Chairman Andrei Kozlov is widely believed to have been connected to his campaign against money laundering and criminality in the banking sector.

“In the course of our investigation … we have established those connected to organizing and carrying out this crime,” the General Prosecutor’s Office said.

Moscow’s Basmanny court sanctioned the arrest of the three suspects, spokeswoman Anna Usachyova said.

The Kommersant daily reported that police had detained three Ukrainians on suspicion of carrying out the apparent contract killing and have narrowed their search for those who ordered it.

The newspaper, citing sources close to the investigation, said police were focusing on a number of banks that had come under threat of losing their licenses about two months before Mr. Kozlov was shot in the head as he left a soccer game between bank employees in Moscow.

The slaying shocked the foreign investor community and was a reminder of the violence entrenched in the Russian business world despite the achievement of political stability under President Vladimir Putin in the past seven years.

The Ukrainian suspects, Alexei Polovinkin, Maxim Proglyad and Alexander Belokopytov, were detained last week and are cooperating with the investigation, Kommersant said.

The first two suspects reportedly shot Mr. Kozlov and his driver, and the third helped them escape, according to Kommersant.

Mr. Kozlov, who was responsible for banking supervision, had withdrawn the licenses of dozens of banks and had overseen an ambitious plan to reduce criminality and money laundering in the banking system. Since mid-1994, the Central Bank has shut down about 90 credit institutions, according to Russian press reports.

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