Mokroye Delo (wet affairs)
Putin said in 2010, “Traitors will kick the bucket, trust me. These people betrayed their friends, their brothers-in-arms. Whatever they got in exchange for it, those 30 pieces of silver they were given, they will choke on them.” An FSB “special directive" obtained by British intelligence dating back to 1993 authorizes "elimination outside of the Russian Federation…of individuals who have left Russia illegally [and are] wanted by federal law enforcement.” The principle of executing Russia’s enemies overseas was enshrined in law in March 2006, when the Duma passed legislation on "counteracting terrorism," allowing state agencies the power to kill "terrorists" abroad.
The Russian term mokroye delo (wet affairs, also called “wetwork” in the West, as in bloody hands), means assassinations. Putin’s regime has embraced wetwork to an extent not seen since Stalin’s time. They symbolize a national criminal mentality which exceeds the realm of the credible. Some will simply refuse to believe what happened.
These operations were reported to have been handled by the KGB Spetsbureau 13, colorfully known as the "Department of wet affairs" (Otdel mokrykh del). The Russian expression "wet job" can be traced to at least the 19th century from Russian criminal slang (fenya, muzyka) and originally meant robbery that involved murder, i.e., spilling blood.
The NKVD used the terms mokroye delo (wet work, or wet affair) and chornaya rabota (black work) to describe executions and assassinations. ode. To consolidate their rule, the Soviets have supplied terror tactics on a massive scale inside the Soviet Union, killing untold millions of people. Later the KGB used mokroye delo for foreign assassinations. In the 1930s the NKVD’s Administration for Special Tasks assassinated a number of enemies abroad. Those killed include Ukrainian and Russian nationalists, two leaders of the Russian émigré community in Paris, and Leon Trotsky. At least one American, Juliette Poyntz, was kidnapped in New York and then murdered for political deviation.
After the Great Patriotic War, Joseph Stalin ordered the assassination of Josef Tito. The Yugoslav upstart became a major villain almost at Trotsky's level in Stalin's personal psychodrama. Stalin planned to employ the same methods which had silenced Trotsky - propaganda, intimidation, and assassination. Fittingly, he had admonished Tito with the warning: "We think the political career of Trotsky is quite instructive." Stalin confidently informed Khrushchev, "I will shake my little finger and there will be no more Tito."
The KGB continued to plan assassinations into the late 1950s. Two leading Russian émigrés, Lev Rebet and Stefan Bandera, were killed in West Germany. Bogdan Stashinskiy, the assassin of Bandera, was personally decorated by KGB Chair Aleksandr Shelepin. Plans for further assassinations were disrupted when Stashinskiy and Nikolay Khokhlov, who had been selected for assassination missions abroad, defected to the West. Stashinskiy and Khokhlov revealed details about the scope of the KGB’s plans in books and media interviews. Some soruces report that embarrassed by the defections, the KGB shut down the organization responsible for assassinations, but this seems not to have been the case. A further blow to plans for further political violence was the defection of Oleg Lyalin in 1971.
Lee Harvey Oswald's assassination of President Kennedy in 1963 remains one of the most horrifying -- and hotly debated -- crimes in American history. Because Oswald had briefly defected to the Soviet Union, some historians allege he was a Soviet stooge.
Although some attacks are well known, for example, the Bulgarian umbrella assassination of Georgi Markov in London, most received little publicity. The case of Romanian broadcaster Emil Georgescu is an example. Georgescu and his wife endured multiple attempts and threats on his life, including automobile “accidents” and a knife attack. Abo Fatalibey, found murdered under a couch in his apartment, was not so fortunate.
In Soviet-style assassinations, with reference to completed and attempted killings, the KGB used people indigenous to the area of operations as surrogates to mask the KGB's role. Its murders involve the killing of the victim and the elimination of the hired assassin. Specific instances of this tactic included the use of the Bulgarian secret police in the attempt to assassinate the Pope and the assassination of the US ambassador to Afghanistan, Adolph Dubs. Propaganda cover-ups and disinformation were also tactics in masking Soviet-sponsored assassinations. It is hardly surprising that professional secret services such as the KGB covered their tracks extremely carefully on any involvement with international terrorism.
After the Cold War, within the FSB the Department for the the Investigation and Prevention of Organised Crime, known as URPO, was a secret unit. Its offices, for example, were not situated at the ‘Lubyanka’, the main FSB headquarters. URPO members, were tasked with special operations, which were on the borderline of legality. Alexander Litvinenko worked at URPO, the top secret department whose role was, “killing political and high business men without verdict".
In Russia the public & private sectors are difficult to separate, and elements of both are involved in or control illicit activities - for such individuals and entities the best way to consolidate their position and prevent too many queries is to remove those who could cause them difficulties - like prying journalists. Eliminating other Russians is relatively easy when the state itself is involved (or at least there is the suspicion that it is), even if it simply by a deliberately inconclusive investigation or bureaucratic indifference. Russia has long been considered one of the most dangerous countries in the world for journalists. According to the New-York-based Committee to Protect Journalists, Anna Politkovskaya - killed in 2006 - was at least the 43rd journalist killed for her work in Russia since 1993. Most of the murder cases remain unsolved. The assassinations are meant to send a message. They are political killings by the Russian intelligence services.”
- Alexey Navalny was poisoned with a Novichok nerve agent. Navalny fell ill 20 August 2020 after boarding a plane in Siberia, with aides saying they suspect he drank a cup of spiked tea at the airport. He was aboard a flight heading home to Moscow when he fell ill, forcing an emergency landing. A passenger posted a video to Telegram in which cries could be heard from inside the airplane’s lavatory stall. He was initially treated in a local hospital, where doctors said they were unable to find any toxic substances in his blood, before he was flown to Berlin for specialised treatment on 22 August 2020. The charismatic Yale-educated lawyer, who had been Russia's leading opposition politician for around a decade, was in the intensive care unit and remained on a ventilator. German Chancellor Angela Merkel said her government had concluded that Navalny, 44, was poisoned with Novichok. Germany's claim that he was exposed to Novichok – the same substance used against Russian ex-double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter in the English town of Salisbury two years ago – prompted widespread condemnation and demands for an investigation. Navalny had long been a problematic figure for the Kremlin — detailing corruption and excess at the highest levels of the government on his popular YouTube channel. The channel’s mix of investigative journalism and caustic humor has resonated with younger Russians in particular.
- Arkady Babchenko reportedly died of his wounds in an ambulance after his wife found him covered in his blood in their home 29 May 2018. Police said they suspected the murder was due to Babchenko's professional activities. But Babchenko later spoke at a televised press conference in which he apologized to friends and loved ones and thanked Ukraine's security services for saving his life. His death may have been faked intentionally. Babchenko, a former soldier in the Chechen war who became one of Russia's best-known war correspondents, had left his homeland fearing for his life after criticising Russian policy in Ukraine and Syria. He had been denounced by pro-government politicians in Russia over comments on social media about the Russian bombing of Aleppo in Syria's war, and over his characterisation of Russia as an aggressor towards Ukraine. Police officials said the operation was carried out in an attempt to lure out those behind the threats. They said that one arrest had been made so far.
- Nikolai Glushkov, a close associate of late Putin critic Boris Berezovsky, was been found dead in his London home on 12 March 2018. The body of a 69-year-old man was found in New Malden, London. The counter terrorism police had been drafted in to investigate due to "associations" the man had. After Berezovsky was found dead in 2013 of an apparent suicide, Glushkov said in an interview with The Guardian newspaper: “too many deaths [of Russian emigres] have been happening.”
- On 04 March 2018, Sergei Skripal, ex-colonel of the GRU and former British intelligence agent, and his daughter Julia were founcd unconscious in the town of Salisbury and taken to hospital in critical condition. Skripal and his daughter, who arrived from Russia the day before, drove to a shopping center in Salisbury, where they had a drink at a pub and dinner at a restaurant. About a half hour later, emergency personnel were called to assist the two, who were found in "extremely serious condition" on a bench near the shopping center. The police officer who was first on the scene also remained hospitalized.
British Prime Minister Teresa May immediately stated the main thing: "The British government considers it very likely that Russia is responsible for the attempt on the life of Sergei Skripal and his daughter Julia.... Mr. Skripal and his daughter were poisoned with a nerve agent of military origin, developed in Russia. It is known as Novichok ["Beginner"]," the prime minister said, adding that "the Russian authorities have the experience of eliminating people with the help of poisonous substances... Russia has previously produced this agent and would still be capable of doing so. Russia's record of conducting state-sponsored assassinations, and our assessment that Russia views some defectors as legitimate targets for assassinations, the government has concluded that it is highly likely that Russia was responsible for the act against Sergei and Yulia Skripal," she said. The government was accused of failing to learn from the murder of Litvinenko and the fact that in the case of Skripal, the special services were unable to protect their agent.
Vil Mirzayanov, the Russian chemist who helped develop the Soviet-era nerve agent used to poison Skripal and other, insisted only Moscow could be behind the attack. He told Reuters he had no doubt that Mr Putin was responsible, given Russia maintained tight control over its Novichok stockpile.
President Vladimir Putin reacted to the scandal rather laconically. Vladimir Vladimirovich smirked after BBC journalist Steve Rosenberg asked if Russia was responsible for the attack. "You'll sort it out there yourself, and then we'll discuss this with you," he said in response to a question from the British broadcaster. Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on 13 March 2018 that Moscow would not respond to May’s ultimatum until London provided access to the nerve agent that was allegedly used. "Russia is not guilty," Lavrov said.
The Skripals were in a critical condition for weeks and doctors at one point feared that, even if they survived, they might have suffered brain damage. But their health began to improve rapidly, and Yulia was discharged in April. Sergei Skripal, the former Russian spy who was poisoned by a nerve agent in Britain, was discharged from hospital, England's health service said on 18 May 2018, more than two months after the poisoning event.
- Former Russian lawmaker Denis Voronenkov was shot dead in Kyiv 23 March 2017 in a likely contract killing ordered by Russia, Ukrainian police said. Voronenkov fled to Ukraine in 2016, fearing for his safety and testified in a treason case against Ukraine’s pro-Russia former president, Viktor Yanukovych. Ukraine's general prosecutor, Yuriy Lutsenko, said Voronenkov’s testimony in the case likely led to his death. "In broad daylight in the center of Kyiv, former Russian lawmaker Denis Voronenkov was shot,” Lutsenko said. “He had provided investigators of the military prosecutor's office with highly important (witness) testimony for the case. This was a typical show execution of a witness by the Kremlin."
On 20 July 2016 a car bombing killed Pavel Sheremet, a pioneering journalist and radio talk-show host who left his home country of Belarus six years ago after run-ins with its autocratic leader, Alexander Lukashenko, and a suspended prison sentence. Sheremet was driving to work when a bomb exploded under the Subaru SUV belonging to his girlfriend, Olena Prytula, the former editor-in-chief of the newspaper Ukrayinska Pravda. She wasn’t in the car. The bomb had been triggered by remote control. Sheremet’s highly public slaying smacked more of Moscow than Kyiv.
On July 10, 2016, DNC staffer Seth Rich was murdered in Washington DC, with multiple gunshot wounds in his back. DC cops suspected Rich was a victim of an attempted robbery, but they found his wallet, credit cards and cellphone on his body, and the band of his wristwatch was torn but not broken. Julian Assange of WikiLeaks offered a $20,000 reward for information leading to a conviction in the Rich case. He hinted that the slain man had been a source of 30,000 internal DNC emails. Was Rich the source who provided Wikileaks with the DNC’s internal emails? Right-wing media outlets floated unproven theories that Rich was the person who provided Wikileaks with thousands of internal DNC emails, and suggested his death was retribution for the supposed leak. If true, what becomes of the mantra “Russia did it?” All the more reason the Russian's would have killed him to throw suspicion off their trail.
- Matthew Puncher, 2016, was the radiation expert who discovered that Russian spy Alexander Litvinenko had been given toxic polonium. Five months after a trip to Russia, he was found dead by multiple stab wounds. A coroner ruled suicide.
Major Russian opposition leader and former deputy prime minister Boris Nemtsov was shot dead Feb. 27, 2015 in central Moscow. The Interior Ministry said Nemtsov was shot four times from a passing car as he walked across a bridge over the Moscow River right next to the Kremlin. Police say Nemtsov was walking with a woman visiting him from Ukraine, who was not hurt. Once a deputy prime minister tipped to be a possible successor to former President Boris Yeltsin, Nemtsov carved a unique role for himself as an opposition leader who still maintained contacts inside the Kremlin and could open doors abroad, from Brussels to Washington.
Vladimir Kara-Murza, a prominent figure in the Russian opposition movement, was hospitalized in 2015 after becoming critically ill, and he and others believe his illness was the result of poisoning. He was hospitalized again with the same symptoms February 2017, but regained his health. Kara-Murza nearly died from kidney failure in 2015, although doctors have not identified the poison. Both times, he spent several days in a medically induced coma. After the most recent incident, his family sent his blood samples to a private lab in Israel to determine the toxin. He was flown out of Russia for treatment. The coordinator at Khodorkovsky's Open Russia foundation and a close associate of Nemtsov, Vladimir Kara-Murza Jr. is largely unknown to most Russians, but his wide contacts in the West arguably made him a thorn in the Kremlin's side.
- Scot Young, 2014, was a wealthy "fixer" to the super-rich and often fronted deals for Russian oligarch Boris Berezovsky. He was part of a network of associates who funneled Berezovsky's cash through offshore companies, and repeatedly worried about being targeted by the Russian mafia. He was found impaled on the railings beneath a London flat.
- Johnny Elichaoff, 2014, was a businessman and the former husband of TV presenter Trinny Woodall. He had battled painkiller addiction, and reportedly rolled himself off a shopping center roof after a string of oil investments went wrong.
- Boris Berezovsky, 2013, was an expat businessman and critic of Putin. He was found dead at his home in an apparent suicide by hanging.
- Alexander Perepilichnyy, 2012, was a financier who helped expose fraud by Russian government officials. He died in Surrey in 2012 after visiting Paris, and BuzzFeed News reported that there were "signs of a fatal plant poison" discovered in his stomach.
- Robbie Curtis, 2012, was a friend of property dealer Paul Castle , and, like him, worked in property. He too killed himself, with US intelligence reportedly believing he may have been driven to suicide by Russia.
- Paul Castle, 2010, a property dealer with flamboyant spending habits, died by suicide after stepping in front of a tube train. BuzzFeed reported that he may have been threatened with a slow and painful death by people linked to the Russian (and Turkish) mafia if he didn't kill himself.
- Gareth Williams, 2010, was a British spy. His bodyfound in a bag in his apartment in 2010. While police said they think it was an accident, intelligence agencies allegedly believe he may have been assassinated.
Russian activists blamed Prime Minister Vladimir Putin for maintaining a climate that resulted in the 16 July 2009 murder in the Caucasus of journalist Natalya Estemirova. Her colleagues from the Memorial human rights organization and other groups told a Moscow news conference that Mr. Putin's protégé in Chechnya, Ramzan Kadyrov is specifically responsible for Estemirova's death. Memorial chairman Oleg Orlov called Natalya Estemirova the soul of the organization; a journalist dedicated to uncovering widespread criminality in Chechnya. Orlov accused Chechen President Ramzan Kadyrov of responsibility for her death.
- Badri Patarkatsishvili, 2008, the best friend and former business partner of Boris Berezovsky, lived close to his friend in Surrey until he died of a heart attack after a family dinner. British intelligence officials asked their counterparts in the US for information about Patarkatsishvili's death, and any possible links to Russia.
Abdulla Telman Alishayev died in the hospital 03 September 2008. Two men shot Alishayev the previous evening, as he sat in his car in the republic capital, Makhachkala. Officials said Alishayev suffered shoulder and head wounds. Doctors operated, but they could not save his life. Alishayev was an editor and show host for an Islamic television channel. He also produced documentaries about Wahhabism, a radical form of Islam.
- Ivan Safronov, a veteran military correspondent for the Kommersant newspaper, died in a mysterious fall from the fifth floor of his Moscow apartment building on 5 March 2007. At the time of his death, Safronov, a former colonel in the Russian armed forces, had been investigating alleged Russian plans to sell weapons and military aircraft to Iran and Syria via Belarus, as well as working on another article on the proposed sale of tactical missiles to Syria. Prosecutors initially suggested that suicide was the most likely explanation, although Safronov's colleagues at his newspaper as well as a number of other journalists said this was highly unlikely.
- Daniel McGrory, 2007, was a foreign correspondent for the British newspaper The Times and was found dead at his North London flat. He had reported extensively on Alexander Litvinenko's death. While his family believe he died of natural causes, British intelligence officials later asked US counterparts to investigate his death.
Anna Politkovskaya, a renowned journalist and Kremlin critic best known for her reporting of atrocities in Chechnya and corruption among Russian officials, was shot dead in the stairwell of her Moscow apartment block on 7 October 2006. The killer ambushed her in the elevator, fired four shots from a silenced Makarov pistol and fled. A surveillance camera captured an image of a man leaving the building after the shooting, but no further details of his identity or motives were released. A mother of two, Politkovskaya often traveled to the breakaway republic where she reported on cases of kidnapping, torture and other crimes -- atrocities she blamed on forces of the Russian military and the Moscow-backed government in Chechnya. The 48-year-old, who enjoyed a higher profile abroad than in Russia itself, had been employed by the twice-weekly Novaya Gazeta newspaper as an investigative reporter since 1999, following a five-year stint at another liberal-minded newspaper, Obshchaya Gazeta. Politkovskaya said she was investigating a case of alleged kidnapping, torture and murder perpetrated by Chechnya's Prime Minister Ramzan Kadyrov and his personal army of heavily armed fighters. Her final article, which she was still writing at the time of her death, focused on the use of torture by the authorities in Chechnya.
- Daniel McGrory, 2007, was a foreign correspondent for the British newspaper The Times and was found dead at his North London flat. He had reported extensively on Alexander Litvinenko's death. While his family believe he died of natural causes, British intelligence officials later asked US counterparts to investigate his death.
- Andrey Kozlov, first deputy chairman at the Central Bank of Russia, died in hospital on 14 September 2006, hours after being shot by two unidentified gunmen in a Moscow street. His driver was killed in the same attack. Kozlov built his reputation in Russian banking by spearheading a drive against white-collar crime. Under his supervision, the CBR revoked the licences of a number of banks suspected of involvement in money laundering and other criminal activity. Aleksey Frenkel, a senior executive at two of the banks to lose their licences, was arrested in January 2007 and charged withordering Kozlov's killing. He denied any involvement. Banker Aleksandr Slesarev, his wife and his daughter were killed in a drive-by shooting on a road near Moscow on 16 October 2005. Slesarev was the former owner of Sodbiznesbank, which had its banking licence revoked by the Central Bank of Russia in May 2004 on suspicion of money laundering, charges it denied. This move led to a crisis in Russian banking, with other lending institutions fearing they would meet the same fate. Another bank owned by Slesarev, Kredittrast, was declared bankrupt in August 2004. Slesarev's killers have never been caught.
- Yuri Golubev, 2006, an oil tycoon and friend to jailed political dissident Mikhail Khodorkovsky, died in London. An obituary at the time said he "felt unwell," returned from a trip early, and subsequently "died peacefully," though US intelligence suspects foul play.
- Igor Ponomarev, died in 2006 shortly before Litvintenko, right before he was due to meet with someone investigating Russian activities in Italy. US intelligence may have evidence that the diplomat was assassinated, BuzzFeed reported.
- Gen Anatoliy Trofimov, formerly deputy head of Russia's Federal Security Service, was killed in a drive-by shooting in Moscow on 10 April 2005. His wife sustained serious injuries in the attack and died a few hours later. Trofimov, who was appointed as deputy FSB chief and Moscow security chief by then President Boris Yeltsin in January 1995, was sacked just over two years later for "gross violations and flaws in his work". Investigators initially said the most likely explanation for Trofimov's murder was a contract killing relating to his business dealings, but the crime remained unsolved.
- Stephen Curtis, 2004, a lawyer who represented an imprisoned Russian oil tycoon, was killed in a helicopter in England in 2006. Again, US intelligence suspects that Russia may have played a hand in his death.
- Paul Klebnikov, the 41-year-old editor-in-chief of the Forbes business magazine's Russian edition, was shot dead as he left his Moscow office on 9 July 2004. A US citizen of Russian descent, Klebnikov joined Forbes in 1989 before launching its Russian edition in April 2004. An outspoken critic of Russia's oligarchs, he also published a best-selling book in which he was highly critical of the exiled business tycoon, Boris Berezovskiy. In May 2006, a Moscow court cleared three men of murdering Klebnikov on the orders of a former Chechen rebel leader, but six months later the Russian Supreme Court overturned the ruling and ordered a new trial. Proceedings in this new trial are currently suspended after one of the defendants disappeared and was placed on the federal wanted list. By 2009 Russian authorities said Klebnikov was killed by ethnic Chechens. They say the men killed him on orders from another ethnic Chechen.
- Yuriy Shchekochikhin, an opposition MP and deputy editor of the twice-weekly Novaya Gazeta newspaper, died in a Moscow hospital on 3 July 2003 after contracting an unexplained illness. The 53-year-old was best known for his reporting of organized crime and corruption, and at the time of his death was investigating the alleged involvement of the Russian security services in a series of bombings in residential areas of Moscow in 1999. He was also a fierce critic of Russian government policy in Chechnya and a prominent member of the Memorial human rights group. Shchekochikhin's family, friends and colleagues suggested he may have been poisoned, possibly with a radioactive substance, as punishment for one of his exposes. But hisfamily is said to have failed to secure access to medical records.
- Igor Klimov, acting director-general of Almaz-Antey, Russia's largest manufacturer of antiaircraft missiles, was shot dead near his home in central Moscow on 6 June 2003 by unidentified gunmen wearing camouflage uniforms. Klimov, a former intelligence officer, had only taken charge of the company in February, and his death came just weeks before a permanent chief executive was due to be appointed. Hours after Klimov was shot, gunmen also killed Sergey Shchitko, commercial director of one of Almaz-Antey's subsidiaries. In October 2005, a Moscow court convicted five men of carrying out Klimov's murder and handed them prison sentences ranging from 22 years to life. Two other men were arrested in May 2006 and charged with masterminding the killing.
- Stephen Moss, a British lawyer, had an apparent heart attack and died in 2003. US intelligence officials allegedly believe he may have been assassinated.
- Veteran liberal MP Sergey Yushenkov was shot dead outside his home in a Moscow suburb on 17 April 2003, just hours after registering his new party, Liberal Russia. A member of parliament since 1990, Yushenkov was well known to Russians for his liberal views and his opposition to many areas of government policy. After Vladimir Putin became president in 2000, Yushenkov and his associates founded Liberal Russia, but differences among its leaders forced the movement to split into two factions. Just under a year after Yushenkov was killed, a Moscow court convicted a member of the rival Liberal Russia faction, Mikhail Kodanev, of ordering the murder and sent him to prison for 20 years. Another man was convicted of carrying out the attack and was given the same sentence. However, Kodanev's associate, exiled tycoon Boris Berezovskiy, said the Russian authorities were behind the crime.
- Valentin Tsvetkov, governor of the gold-rich Magadan Region in Russia's Far East, was gunned down in one of Moscow's busiest shopping streets during rush hour on the morning of 18 October 2002. It was the first time in the history of post-Soviet Russia that a regional governorhad been murdered. The killing was thought to be related to Tsvetkov's attempts to establish control over the region's principal industries of gold mining, oil and fishing. In July 2006 Spanish police detained two Russian men as prime suspects in the case.
Vladimir Golovlev, an MP and one of the leaders of the small opposition party Liberal Russia, was shot dead on 21 August 2002 while walking his dog near his Moscow home. The killing came just months after Golovlev had switched to Liberal Russia, founded by the exiled tycoon Boris Berezovskiy, from the Union of Right Forces (SPS). While still a member of SPS, Golovlev was stripped of his parliamentary immunity so that prosecutors could press corruption charges against him in connection with property dealings in Chelyabinsk Region in the Urals. No one has ever been convicted of his murder.
Maj-Gen Vitaliy Gamov, commander of the border guards on the Far Eastern island of Sakhalin, died in a Japanese hospital on 28 May 2002, one week after an arson attack on his apartment on Sakhalin. Gamov's wife, Larisa, suffered severe burns in the attack but survived. The attack was seen as retribution for the general's attempts to clamp down on illegal fishing. In December 2006, a court on Sakhalin sentenced three people to four years in prison for the attack. One of those convicted had been the subject of a manhunt until an investigator's wife spotted his name in the credits of a television show. However, prosecutors have not pressed murder charges against anyone.
Maxim Vladislavovich Tarasenko was killed by a car 14 May 1999 in Zelenograd where he lived. His step-son was injured. Maxim was one of the most brilliant researchers and historians of the Soviet/Russian space program, and a key member of Novosti Kosmonavtiki magazine staff. From 1991 to the present he was a Research Associate at the Center for Arms Control, Energy and Environmental Studies at MIPT where he developed an independent expertise of national space activities, conducted analyses of space programs and policies both in Russia and abroad, and became an internationally recognized expert on space program histories. Whereas one of the main problems with reporting on Soviet-era space history is that so many of the Russian chroniclers/memoirists have an ideological or bureaucratic axe to grind (hence, ten different stories of an event), Maxim was interested in the facts and the truth and approached his subject with an objective view. It was his greatest strength as a researcher and historian. He was surely one of the best, most forthright, and hardest-working of the Russian space scholars, and a gentle and close friend.
Galina Starovoytova, a respected MP and prominent member of the Russian opposition, was shot dead outside her apartment in St Petersburg. Starovoytova, who enjoyed great respect outside Russia for her commitment to human rights and was seen by her admirers as a champion of democracy, at one time advised President Boris Yeltsin on interethnic relations and human rights. In June 2005, a court sentenced two men, Yuriy Kolchin and Vitaliy Akishin, to 20 and 23 years respectively for Starovoytova's murder. Four other defendants were acquitted.
Aleksandr Shkadov, one of the highest-ranking executives in the Russian diamond industry, was shot dead near his home in the town of Smolensk on 1 August 1998. Shkadov was managing director of Kristall, Russia's largest diamond processing factory, and president of the Russian Association of Diamond Processors. The crime remains unsolved.
Lev Rokhlin, a former Russian army general and chairman of the Duma Defense Committee, was shot dead at his country home near Moscow on 3 July 1998, with a gunshot in his head at point blank range. Rokhlin, who was 51 at the time, had previously commanded the Russian forces which recaptured the Chechen capital of Groznyy from rebels in 1995. Subsequently, however, he condemned Russian army conduct in the republic and was involved in controversial efforts to reform the military. Rokhlin, one of the most distinguished retired Russian generals, was dissatisfied because Russian soldiers were not being paid their salaries and their pensions, publicly called for the impeachment of Boris Yeltsin. For 6 months there was an attempt made to remove Lev Rokhlin from his chairmanship of the Duma Defense Committee and for 6 months he resisted.
His wife the next day admitted that she killed her husband in a fit of rage. But then the stories started to unfold. Lev Rokhlin's daughter and his son-in-law said that was not the case, that three people had, in fact, entered Lev Rokhlin's apartment, had assassinated him, and had told his wife if she did not, in fact, take the responsibility for the assassination, she and her entire family would be killed. Mysteriously, three bodies were found in the vicinity of Lev Rokhlin's apartment in the days following that assassination. They did not have identification and their bodies were, in fact, burned.
Two years after Rokhlin's death, his widow, Tamara, was found guilty of his murder, but the Supreme Court overturned the verdict two years into her prison sentence. The case went to a retrial, and, in November 2005, Rokhlina was convicted for a second time and given a suspended four-year sentence.
Mikhail Manevich, deputy governor of St Petersburg and the head of the city's privatization committee, was shot dead in his official car on his way to work, apparently by a sniper. His wife, who was also in the car, escaped with minor injuries. The 36-year-old had been deputy governor for a year, and was also heavily involved in drawing up privatization legislation and plans for a national housing and public utilities programme. In the 10 years since Manevich's murder, investigators have questioned more than 2,000 witnesses, but, despite naming a number of suspects, they did not press charges.
Yuriy Polyakov, an MP from the left-leaning Power to the People faction (Narodovlastiye), was abducted in Krasnodar Region in southern Russia on 3 December 1996. He was last seen alive leaving the offices of the state-owned farm which he managed, heading for his family home a few hundred metres away. Investigators suggested Polyakov's abduction may have been linked to his business interests. His body was never found, but police pronounced him presumed dead two years later and his kidnappers have never been caught.
US businessman and hotelier Paul Tatum was shot dead in a Moscow underpass in 1996. At the time he was embroiled in a long-running dispute with the Chechen-born businessman Umar Dzhabrailov and other local partners over ownership of Moscow's Radisson Slavyanskaya hotel. Dzhabrailov was questioned by police following Tatum's murder but he has dismissed all accusations of involvement in any sort of crime. Tatum's killers have never been caught.
Anatoliy Stepanov, a deputy justice minister, was found dead at the entrance to his Moscow apartment block on 23 May 1996. Police initially claimed Stepanov had been shot dead but later they said he was probably killed by a blow to the head with a blunt, heavy instrument. Investigators suggested he was killed by an acquaintance, but no-one has ever been charged with his murder. Stepanov had been in his post almost three years and was in charge of monitoring lawyers.
Sergey Markidonov, an MP from the small Stability group, was shot dead by his bodyguard in his Siberian constituency on 26 November 1995. The bodyguard, who was drunk, committed suicide immediately afterwards. The 34-year-old Markidonov was on the campaign trail at the time, in preparation for the following month's parliamentary elections.
- Ivan Kivelidi, 46, died on August 1, 1995, three days after tiny quantities of a mystery nerve agent were found on his telephone and possibly slipped into his tea. His secretary, Zara Ismailova, also died after apparently being poisoned. Kivilidi fell into a coma because of kidney failure, and the deceased secretary did not even touch the tube, but only wiped the dust in the office. Before her death, she managed to tell that "she had the same thing as Kivilidi", which allowed the investigation to understand that they were poisoned. During the investigation it was found out that a hazardous substance was purchased from a member of the GNIIOKhT branch located in Shikhan, Saratov region.
- Vladislav Listyev, director-general of Russian Public Television, Russia's only national TV network at the time, was shot dead by the entrance to his Moscow apartment block on 1 March 1995. Listyev, who was 38 at the time, was one of Russia's favorite television presenters, and had helped to devise a range of highly popular and innovative programmes in the years before and after the collapse of the Soviet Union. His death was mourned across Russia and provoked a huge public outcry. Despite a lengthy investigation, the crime remains unsolved.
Sergey Skorochkin, an MP from Vladimir Zhirinovskiy's Liberal Democratic Party of Russia, was kidnapped in Moscow Region on 1 February 2005 and found dead in a nearby forest shortly afterwards. There was some suggestion the killing was linked to Skorochkin's business interests. The case was brought to trial on several occasions and although the defendants were acquitted, on each occasion the Supreme Court ordered retrials. The case was closed in 2005 under the statute of limitations, 10 years after the murder took place.
Communist MP Valentin Martemyanov was beaten up and robbed in the street near his Moscow home on 1 November 1994 and died four days later of his injuries. Some of Martemyanov's political associates linked his death to his efforts to recover party property, but others believe robbery was the primary motivation. The killers have never been traced.
Dmitriy Kholodov, a reporter for the popular Moskovskiy Komsomolets newspaper, died on 17 October 1994 when a briefcase he had been told to pick up at a railway station exploded in the newspaper's Moscow offices. At the time the 27-year-old was investigating corruption in the Russian military. Six years later a court found six men, for of them former army officers, not guilty of murdering Kholodov. A retrial at a military court in 2002 resulted in a similar verdict. In 2005 Russia's Supreme Court upheld those rulings.
Russian MP and businessman Andrey Aydzerdis was shot dead in a Moscow suburb on 26 April 1994. It was the first time a member of the Russian parliament had been assassinated and the killing was widely covered in themedia. Aydzerdis, a member of the New Regional Policy faction, was chairman of a bank and owned a newspaper which had published the names of hundreds of individuals alleged to be involved in organized crime. Police linked the murder to his business interests.
- Nikolay Likhachev, one of Russia's leading bankers, was shot dead by gunmen near his Moscow home on 2 December 1993. Likhachev, chairman of a major commercial bank, Rosselkhozbank, had worked in the Soviet and Russian banking systems since the 1970s. Russian banks observed a day of mourning several days after his death.
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