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Contract Killings


Sunday, 30 September 2007

Contract killings in Russia have hit record levels

Contract killings in Russia have hit record levels, puncturing
the hope that the country has left the era of "gangster capitalism"
behind, according to a senior crime official here.

Between 500 and 700 Russians a year are killed by business rivals,
according to crime official Mr Leonid Kondratyuk, a top Interior
Ministry official.

The news comes a month after American journalist Paul Klebnikov,
editor of Forbes Russia, died in a hail of bullets fired by an
assassin in Moscow. Mr Kondratyuk told the Moscow Times that even his
estimate of 500 to 700 was conservative because it counted only those
murders definitely linked to organised crime, and that the true figure
could be "two to three times higher".

His statement follows similar claims earlier this year by a former
prosecutor, Mr Valentin Stepankov, who said total crimes attributable
to mafia groups had passed the 25,000 mark in four years.

Russia attracted the nickname the "Wild East" in the 1990s, when
gangsters fought turf wars in the free-for-all that followed the end
of Communism.

The government hoped the arrival of tough central control from
President Vladimir Putin, coupled with rising prosperity, had put an
end to these murders, but this prosperity may actually be encouraging
a new wave of blood-letting.

Klebnikov was one of two journalists murdered in Moscow last month -
also killed was Paila Peloya, editor of an Armenian-language
newspaper, who, like Klebnikov, was shot dead in broad daylight. Since
Mr Putin took office in 2000, 15 journalists have been murdered, along
with six MPs and dozens of suspected gangster bosses.

Prominent killings include the shooting last summer of Igor Klimov,
chief of defence giant Almaz-Antei. The option of contract killing is
sometimes used as a last resort in business disputes. Typically, if a
firm refuses to honour its end of a contract, remedies such as going
to court may be useless, with judges sometimes bribed or the state law
simply unable to get back money owed.

The rise in contract killings comes despite a fall overall in recorded
crime. The number of murders in Russia fell 8 per cent last year,
though remained high at 16,240. Some doubt the official claims. Andrei
Konstantinov, a crime journalist with the Agency of Journalistic
Investigations in St Petersburg, said his interpretation of official
figures is that there are fewer contract killings, not more.

Konstantinov said police often know the identity of contract killers,
but lack evidence, and in particular witnesses, to bring the guilty to
court. He blames a collapse in moral values for the high level of gun


The hitman or killer (pronounced "keeler" in Russian) is a phenomenon of the country's shock transition from communism to a market economy.

You would use the Russian verb zakazat' to order a pizza or a plane ticket but when you "order someone", in the popular parlance, it means you want them killed by one of these hired hitmen.

If Russian media accounts are to be believed, his wages can range from a modest $100 to sums running into the hundreds of thousands of dollars, depending on the target.

When Ms Politkovskaya was shot at her home, there did not appear to be any attempt at robbery and the presumed weapon, a Makarov pistol, was left at the scene together with its used cartridges.

murdered Russian journalist Anna Politovskaya.

Russia's chief prosecutor, Yuri Chaika, announced yesterday that 10 people had been arrested in connection with the murder of Anna Politkovskaya which he blamed on a Chechen mafia boss and rogue elements in Russia's security services.
But he hinted that the real mastermind behind the plot to kill the campaigning journalist was a Russian citizen living abroad who had arranged the murder to discredit the Kremlin and Vladimir Putin, the Russian president. Asked whether he meant the exiled oligarch Boris Berezovsky, Mr Chaika refused to answer but smiled.

Tuesday, 25 September 2007


A Londoner has been shot dead by five bullets in a late night slaying close to The Point cafeteria in the Avenida del Prado in Nueva Andalucía, Marbella. According to police sources the 43-year-old had a police record in Spain. Officers are investigating his death and are keeping an open mind on the motive and who carried out the slaying.
The Briton, named as William Moy, is said to have been accompanied by a group of three people before his death. The emergency services received a 091 call to say a man had been hurt in a shooting but when medical teams arrived he was already dead.
The Point is in the Aloha urbanisation and the area was soon sealed off by police scientific officers. The investigations are being carried out by the National Police drug and organised crime squad, the Greco unit against organised crime plus the specialised and violent crime detachment.
National police searching for the two gunmen, believed to be British, who shot the local police officer in an incident that occurred last week, have found the weapons involved in the shooting. They discovered a pistol and a revolver with a silencer inside a rubbish container near the Clínica Buchinguer. They also found nearby the burnt out Opel Astra used by the duo.
In another linked operation 200 officers from the Costa del Sol Drugs and Organised Crime squad poured into the Monte Biarritz, Diana and Golf Park urbanisations in Estepona. They acted after two police officers manning a control to search for the two gunmen were run down by a car that they had ordered to stop. No arrests were made but police believe the gunmen may be hiding out in the zone.
As the Costa del Sol News went to press the shot local police officer was still in a very serious condition at the Costa del Sol Hospital in Marbella. Married with two sons, the officer was on a breathing support machine and under sedation but was said to be making a slow improvement.
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