ITAR-TASS photo of Anatoly Voronin
Today Bloomberg Financial News is reporting the murder of ITAR-TASS news agency business chief Anatoly Vornonin. Mr. Voronin was a well-respected reporter and had been with ITAR-TASS for 23 years. The headline over the link to this story from the Drudge Report at this hour asks "Another One?" - referring to the murder of Russian journalist Anna Politovskaya on October 7th - but the circumstances of this case are very different. Gazeta.ru quotes Russian prosecutors and police sources indicating that Voronin was stabbed to death by an assailant he knew, perhaps a friend. Voronin's body was found in his apartment early this morning by his driver.
Bloomberg has more in the extended post, including a tally of prominent Russian businessmen killed in the last month.
Gazeta.ru photo from the crime scene
[Voronin's] death is the latest in a spate of high-profile killings in Russia in little over a month.
Deputy Central Bank governor Andrei Kozlov was shot dead with his driver on Sept. 13 as he left a football match in Moscow. Russian officials arrested an unspecified number of people involved in the killing, the Prosecutor General's office said today.
Journalist Anna Politkovskaya, a critic of President Vladimir Putin, was shot at the entrance to her apartment block on Oct. 7. Leaders from around the world including U.S. President George W. Bush called on the Russian government to carry out a thorough investigation to find her killers. No arrests have yet been made.
Another banker, Alexander Plokhin, was killed by a gunshot wound to the head on Oct. 10. He was a branch head at VTB-24, the retail unit of Russia's second largest bank, Vneshtorgbank.
A day later Furtanbek Akhidov, from the Chechen capital Grozny, was shot dead in the courtyard of the Moscow building where he lived, Interfax reported. Outside Moscow, Enver Ziganshin, chief engineer of BP Plc's Russian gas unit, OAO Rusia Petroleum, was gunned down in Irkutsk in Siberia on Sept. 30.
This list is a grim reminder that Russian hit men will target almost anyone for money, whether they are successful businessmen, high level Putin appointees, or outspoken journalists critical of the government. Even so, the number of business-related murders has sharply declined since the Yeltsin years. Today Moscow is a much safer city than it was during the mid-1990s.