Top officials of the Interior Ministry said today that they know who killed Galina Starovoitova, the State Duma deputy murdered in November 1998, and Vladislav Listiev, the well-known television journalist who was murdered in March 1995. Yuri Korolev, deputy head of the Interior Ministry’s Main Criminal Investigation Department, and Andrei Shilovsky, a deputy section head within the same department, told reports today that the persons who directly carried out Listiev’s murder were located abroad and the target of manhunts both in Russia and internationally. Listiev was killed on March 1, 1995, soon after being named head of Russian Public Television (ORT), which had just been created as a 51-percent state-owned TV company.
As for Starovoitova, Shilovsky said that investigators had established the identity of those who directly carried out her murder, and that the perpetrators, who were also the subject of national and international manhunts, could soon be arrested. Shilovsky said, however, that two suspects recently extradited from the Czech Republic to Russia had no role in the Starovoitova murder. Last week, a newspaper reported that two members of a St. Petersburg-based criminal gang who were being held in the Czech Republic were the main suspects in the Starovoitova murder (see the Monitor, February 15). They were subsequently extradited to Russia, but while they are suspected of having committed a series of crimes, including murders and kidnappings, police officials said they were not involved in the Starovoitova murder (NTV.ru, February 18). While the two Interior Ministry officials said today they were sure of the identities of Starovoitova’s killers, anonymous investigators were quoted as saying they were not sure her killers were still alive or in St. Petersburg (NTV.ru, February 21).
The Starovoitova and Listiev killings are two among the many high-profile murders of businessmen, politicians and other public figures in the 1990s that remain unsolved and President Vladimir Putin, who recently painted a grim picture of the crime situation in Russia, may be pushing to get at least some of those cases solved (see the Monitor, February 11). Korolev added to the grim crime picture today, reporting that 326 contract murders were committed in Russia in 2001 (RBK, February 21). Meanwhile, Deputy Prosecutor General Vladimir Zubrin said yesterday that around 1000 murders were committed in St. Petersburg last year (Regions.ru, February 21). Some 1700 murders were committed in Moscow in 2001, up 21 percent from 2000. By way of comparison, 643 murders were committed in New York last year (excluding those who died as a result of the September 11 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center), down from 671 murders in 2000 (Moscow Times, February 12). Moscow has a population of nearly 9 million while New York’s is 8 million and St. Petersburg’s is around 5 million.
The Interior Ministry’s Yuri Korolev did have some good news today, announcing that police had found the killers of Andrei Brushlinsky, the director of the Russian Academy of Sciences’ Institute of Psychology who was found murdered at the entrance to his apartment building on January 30. Korolev said the motive for the murder was robbery (Gazeta.ru, February 21; see the Monitor, January 31).
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