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Last Updated: Monday, 15 January 2007, 13:01 GMT
Arrest over Russian banker murder
Mr Andrei Kozlov
Mr Kozlov tried to crack down on money laundering
A court in Russia has given the go-ahead to arrest an ex-banker suspected of organising the murder of central banker Andrei Kozlov.

Alexei Frenkel is the second person ordered arrested over the point-blank shooting in September 2006. Mr Frenkel is to challenge the court decision.

Mr Kozlov had shut down VIP Bank, a private bank headed by Mr Frenkel three months prior to his death.

The dead man had fiercely opposed money laundering in Russia's banking network.

Mr Igor Trunov, a lawyer for Mr Frenkel, who has been detained since Thursday, said the court's decision to arrest his client was "baseless".

He said he would have the decision repealed within three days in Moscow's City court.

Crack down

However Russian media reports said that Mr Frenkel would be charged with murder on Wednesday.

RUSSIAN CONTRACT KILLINGS
Oct 2005 - former bank head Alexander Slesarev gunned down near Moscow
July 2004 - US editor of Forbes' Russian edition, Paul Klebnikov, shot dead in Moscow
Oct 2002 - Magadan governor Valentin Tsvetkov killed in Moscow
Nov 1998 - liberal MP Galina Starovoitova killed in St Petersburg
March 1995 - leading journalist Vladislav Listyev shot dead in Moscow

Although he was revered for trying to crack down on money-laundering, some say Mr Kozlov's battle against unreliable or criminal banks in Russia might have made him a potential target.

VIP Bank, headed by Mr Frenkel, was one of a list of financial organisations the Central Bank chose to close down, backed by Mr Kozlov.

Mr Kozlov, who was killed on 13 September on leaving a football game between bank employees in Moscow, was arguably the most high profile figure to be killed under President Vladimir Putin's regime.

In total, seven people are being held over the murder or Mr Kozlov.

Among those detained is Liana Askerova, who was arrested on Friday.

'Bad health'

According to the press reports, Mr Frenkel appeared in a court on Monday with a jacket over his head.

His lawyer said he would appeal the decision, saying that his client had never engaged in criminal activity.

Mr Frenkel's lawyer also claimed that his client had been physically abused, adding that "his health is bad, he virtually can't sit down and his heart hurts".


SEE ALSO
Obituary: Andrei Kozlov
14 Sep 06 |  Europe



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