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Last Updated: Thursday, 14 September 2006, 09:54 GMT 10:54 UK
Russia central banker shot dead
Andrei Kozlov (pic: NTV)
Mr Kozlov was in charge of licensing commercial banks
The first deputy chairman of Russia's central bank has died in hospital after being shot by two unidentified gunmen in the capital, Moscow.

Andrei Kozlov, 41, was attacked at a city's sports ground late on Wednesday.

Prosecutors said the motive for the shooting was unclear, but suggested that it looked like a contract killing.

Under Mr Kozlov's supervision, the central bank had revoked the licences of a number of banks suspected of involvement in money laundering.

It [the attack] could be connected with his professional activities. He had a very tough position in relation to banks which laundered money
Anatoly Aksakov
Russian MP

Russia has been working hard to get away from the reputation it earned in the 1990s as the home of unbridled capitalism where almost any action was acceptable in business, the BBC's Jonathan Charles in Moscow reports.

But this latest killing will remind foreign investors Russia has a long way to go before it reaches the standards which prevail in many other parts of the world, our correspondent says.

'Ordered hit'

Mr Kozlov was attacked by the two gunmen in the grounds of the Moscow Spartak football club after a match between central bank employees.

RUSSIA'S 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

Mr Kozlov underwent surgery lasting several hours for gunshot wounds in the body and head but died early on Thursday without regaining consciousness, Moscow medics said.

His driver died at the scene of the attack.

Russian police have launched a manhunt for the two suspects who managed to escape.

Vice-premier Alexander Zhukov said the hit might have been ordered because the central bank had revoked the licenses of unreliable commercial banks as part of an effort to clean up the banking system.

The Interfax news agency quoted Russian parliamentarian Anatoly Aksakov as saying: "Of course, it could be connected with his professional activities.

"He had a very tough position in relation to banks which laundered money and engaged in other illegal activities," Mr Aksakov said.

Only last week Mr Kozlov demanded tougher penalties against bankers found guilty of money laundering.

Prosecutors said they were also considering other motives for the shooting.

Mr Kozlov left the bank in 1997, but returned in April 2002. He is survived by his wife and three children.

'Law of gun'

Although they occur less frequently than they did a decade ago, contract killings are still part of Russian life, our correspondent says.

Business conflicts frequently turn violent, he says, adding that in some disputes the first recourse is often to the gun rather than the courts.

In 2005, the former head of a Russian bank, Alexander Slesarev, was gunned down in his car with his wife and daughter outside Moscow.

The attack came several months after the chief executive of Russia's electricity monopoly, Anatoly Chubais, escaped unscathed after an assassination attempt near Moscow.

In 2004, Paul Klebnikov, a US citizen had been in charge of the Russian edition of the Forbes business magazine, was gunned down in the Russian capital.

In 2002, the governor of the Magadan region, Valentin Tsvetkov, was gunned down on a busy Moscow street.


VIDEO AND AUDIO NEWS
Archive footage of Mr Kozlov



SEE ALSO
Obituary: Andrei Kozlov
14 Sep 06 |  Europe
Russian MP's death sparks storm
18 Apr 03 |  Europe
Country profile: Russia
05 Sep 06 |  Country profiles

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