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Last Updated: Tuesday, 24 July 2007, 13:27 GMT 14:27 UK
Russian biathlon star avoids jail
Alexander Tikhonov (pic: Russian Biathlon Union)
Tikhonov won gold medals at four Winter Olympics
A former Russian biathlon champion who won four Olympic gold medals has avoided jail over his role in a failed plot to kill a regional governor.

Alexander Tikhonov was sentenced to three years in jail for trying to poison Aman Tuleyev, governor of Siberia's Kemerovo region.

But he will not spend any time in prison because of an amnesty law passed by Russian parliament seven years ago.

Tikhonov says he is helping plan the Sochi Winter Olympics in 2014.

He is currently president of the Russian Biathlon Union.

As an athlete, he won gold medals in the 4 x 7.5km relay at four Olympics, from 1968 to 1980. The long-distance event is a test of skiing and shooting.

Amnesty deal

Appearing in court in the Siberian city of Novosibirsk on Monday, Tikhonov denied any involvement in the plot to kill Aman Tuleyev.

Aman Tuleyev
Aman Tuleyev was the intended target of Tikhonov's conspiracy

"I have not admitted my guilt and consider myself innocent," the Itar-Tass news agency quoted Tikhonov as saying.

He was found guilty and sentenced, but the court ruled that he should not go to prison because the terms of a seven-year-old amnesty applied to his crime.

The amnesty dates to May 2000 - the 55th anniversary of Russia's victory in World War II.

Tikhonov was arrested in August 2000 on charges of plotting to kill the governor of the mineral-rich Siberian region of Kemerovo.

Moved abroad

Prosecutors say the murder plot was instigated by Tikhonov's friend, the businessman Mikhail Zhivilo.

Mr Zhivilo is accused of ordering Mr Tuleyev's killing after the governor forced his metals company out of business in the region.

The businessman contacted Tikhonov for help in securing contract killers.

Using his brother, Viktor, Tikhonov found people apparently willing to carry out the murder.

But he was arrested when the would-be killers reported the conspiracy to the Russian security services.

Charged in August 2000, Tikhonov was released from custody a month later after complaining he was unwell.

He then moved abroad to seek treatment for his illness. His brother, Viktor, was sentenced to four years in prison in 2002.

Mr Zhivilo left Russia in 2000 and remains a fugitive abroad, according to the Itar-Tass news agency.

Mr Tuleyev remains governor of Kemerovo. An anti-Western hardliner who once wanted to be Russian president, he came fourth in the 2000 election won by Vladimir Putin.


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