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08/02/1998 11:35:01 Prominent Russian diamond boss shot dead

MOSCOW, Aug 2 (Reuters) - Alexander Shkadov, chief executive of Russia's

biggest diamond processing plant Kristall, was shot dead in an apparent contract

killing, Russian media reported on Sunday.

Police in Smolensk, an ancient town west of Moscow, were quoted by Russian

television and Itar-Tass news agency as saying they did not exclude commercial

or political motives behind the murder on Saturday.

Shkadov was also a deputy of the Smolensk regional parliament and chaired

Russia's Diamond Producers' Association.

Russian television showed Shkadov's corpse with multiple wounds lying close

to the ivy-clad fence of his country cottage in a pool of blood. Police found

more than a dozen spent cartridge cases and a silencer from a pistol near the

spot.

The television also quoted police as saying the attacker or attackers

clearly knew that Shkadov liked to take a walk in the morning before driving to

work.

Kristall, a gem cutting and polishing complex, is capable of processing some

$500 million worth of rough diamonds a year. It gets rough stones directly from

Russia's diamond monopoly Almazy Rossii-Sakha and markets its produce abroad.

Contract murders of businessmen, bankers and even state officials are not

uncommon in Russia, where violent organised crime has flourished since the

collapse of the Soviet regime.

REUTERS

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