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Magadan Oblast Governor gunned down in Moscow

Magadan Oblast Governor Valentin Tsvetkov was shot dead by an unidentified gunman on a downtown Moscow street on the morning of 18 October, Russian and Western news agencies reported. According to ntvru.com, police are looking for a "Slavic man" aged 30-35. The murderer dropped his Makarov pistol and silencer at the scene of the crime and made his escape in a Zhiguli automobile, in which a second man was reportedly waiting. According to strana.ru, police later found the car abandoned not far away. Ntvru.com reported that the entire incident was caught on videotape by cameras on a nearby building housing offices associated with the Federation Council. Tsvetkov, 54, was accompanied by his wife, an aide, and a bodyguard when he was killed, but no one else was injured in the incident. According to Interfax, President Vladimir Putin ordered Prosecutor-General Vladimir Ustinov and Interior Minister Boris Gryzlov to take personal control of the investigation. First Deputy Governor of Magadan Oblast Nikolai Dudov will serve as acting governor until new elections are held within three months, strana.ru reported.

...as associates speculate on the motives

Police characterized the murder as "a contract hit" and believe it was likely associated with Tsvetkov's "professional activity," ntvru.com reported. Tsvetkov "clearly touched someone's economic interests," said Federation Council Chairman Sergei Mironov. "After all, Magadan is fish and gold and [Tsvetkov] recently made a correct decision about the work of gold-processing plants." Communist Party leader Gennadii Zyuganov also told ntvru.com that the murder "is connected with gold mining in Magadan." Duma Deputy from Magadan Vladimir Butkeev, however, alleged that Tsvetkov "came to politics from business and continued to pursue commercial activity, including in Moscow," pravda.ru reported. "He might have been murdered because of these [activities]."

...and Duma Speaker says crime situation continues to worsen

Commenting on Tsvetkov's murder, Gennadii Seleznev said on 18 October that although the legislature provides ever more funding for law enforcement each year, the results are increasingly disappointing, RosBalt reported. "The criminal world feels completely invulnerable in Russia, and I cannot remember a case in which the murder of a politician has been investigated and the killers sentenced in a court," Seleznev said. Although Tsvetkov is the first governor to be murdered in post-Soviet Russia, eight Duma deputies have been murdered, as have numerous other regional political figures.

(RFE/RL 18.x.02)

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