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Friday, 18 October, 2002, 15:15 GMT 16:15 UK
Russian governor shot dead in Moscow
Mr Tsvetkov lies dead in Novy Arbat street
The killers are said to have escaped by car
The governor of one of Russia's eastern regions has been shot dead in broad daylight in central Moscow.

Mr Tsvetkov in parliament
Tsvetkov may have fallen foul of local businessmen
Valentin Tsvetkov was gunned down on Friday morning in Moscow's Novy Arbat, one of the capital's busiest shopping streets, not far from the Kremlin.

Dozens of witnesses - many of them rush-hour commuters on their way to work - saw him shot in the head.

Investigators say the governor of the Magadan region was killed by at least two gunmen, who reportedly escaped by car.

Russian television said Mr Tsvetkov's deputy was also attacked but escaped unhurt.

Mr Tsvetkov's death marks the second killing of a Russian politician in less than two months, after State Duma deputy Vladimir Golovlev was assassinated on 21 August.

Police are treating Mr Tsvetkov's murder as a contract killing.

Eyewitnesses

Police say the gunman stepped out from behind a billboard and shot Mr Tsvetkov using a pistol fitted with a silencer as Mr Tsvetkov spoke on his mobile telephone.

Mr Tsvetkov's wife comforted by an official
Mr Tsvetkov was accompanied by his wife
The killer also shot at the deputy governor but missed, before he jumped into a waiting car and fled the scene.

A number of bystanders have given police information about what they saw.

"We have a facial description of the suspect," said Moscow Police Chief Mikhail Avdyukov.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has ordered the Prosecutor General and Interior Minister to take control of the investigation into Mr Tsvetkov's death.

Police say they are linking Mr Tsvetkov's killing to his business dealings in Magadan.

Gangland image

Contract killings of businessmen and politicians are common in Moscow, but this was the first time that a regional governor has been a victim.

Mr Tsvetkov's death is seen as a damaging blow to Mr Putin's efforts to rid Russia of its gangland image.

The BBC's Jonathan Charles says most of the murders are linked to business disputes.

He says the Magadan region is renowned for its tough business practices, and that Mr Tsvetkov may well have fallen foul of local business interests.

Mr Tsvetkov, who was 54, became a Russian deputy in 1995 and won a second term as governor of the gold-rich region in November 2000.

He had recently overseen the construction of a gold-refining plant, and was believed to be trying to bring gold production in the area under his control.

It is thought that this made him powerful enemies.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Jonathan Charles
"The police will think this is connected to some business issue"
See also:

21 Aug 02 | Europe
11 Feb 02 | Europe
07 Feb 02 | Europe
10 Jul 02 | Country profiles
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