Russian advertising tsar killed in second car bomb attack

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One of Russia's most successful businessmen has been blown up in his armoured limousine in the second attempt on his life in less than a year.

One of Russia's most successful businessmen has been blown up in his armoured limousine in the second attempt on his life in less than a year.

Boris Goldman, president of the advertising firm New Found Quality (NFQ), died on Monday night along with his driver and bodyguard when an assassin on a motorcycle placed a powerful bomb on the roof of his limousine when it stopped at a traffic light in south-west Moscow.

The killer did not manage to escape the subsequent blast and lost his own life too. Although not in the financial league of Russia's super-rich oligarchs, Mr Goldman was widely rated as one of the country's most successful businessmen.

Last year he was Russia's "Media Manager" of the year, and his company's clients have included blue-chip firms such as Ford, Bosch, DaimlerChrysler and Mercedes-Benz. His firm, NFQ, is alleged to have close links to Boris Berezovsky, the Russian oligarch who lives in the UK in self-imposed exile.

Yesterday Kommersant, a daily newspaper owned by Mr Berezovsky, put the story of Mr Goldman's murder on the front page with the headline, "The killers die but they don't give up". Its tone was critical of Russia's cash-starved law enforcement agencies. Mr Goldman, it suggested, had not been offered the protection he deserved.

The businessman escaped a first attempt on his life last October in exactly the same street when a mine was placed under his Toyota jeep and exploded, badly injuring his driver. He was unhurt. Nobody was arrested for that attack and Mr Goldman later claimed that the authorities had accused him of faking the incident. Fearing for his life, Mr Goldman decided to hire a specially converted Volvo S80 limousine from a company called Armortex for $800 (£440) a day. He was on his way home on Monday night in the Volvo when his killer, who has since been identified as a 24-year-old Muscovite, struck.

Pulling alongside Mr Goldman's car, he placed a rucksack containing a bomb on the roof where the armour-plating was thinnest. One of Mr Goldman's bodyguards travelling in a separate vehicle saw what happened and jumped out to tackle the motorcyclist. Aware that he had been spotted, the biker somehow managed to speed up the detonation of the bomb, which went off seconds later, killing all the Volvo's occupants.

The killer, Maksim Konkov, was unable to put enough distance between himself and the bomb and lost his arm in the explosion. He quickly died from a loss of blood. Kommersant yesterday showed his body lying prostrate just metres from the burnt-out Volvo.

The blast was so powerful that windows on the first four floors of a nearby building were blown out, at least two passers-by were injured and a passing car was also damaged. Police are said to have several strong leads as to who ordered the hit and Russian media reported yesterday that four suspects had been detained for questioning.

Kommersant claimed that a walkie-talkie used by the killer to communicate with his handlers had survived the blast and that police had used it to get a fix on their location.

Speculation is rife that Mr Goldman was killed as part of a savage struggle to gain control of Russia's multimillion-dollar advertising market. The market was virtually non-existent until 1991 when the Soviet Union collapsed but has since enjoyed frenzied growth with most of Moscow now covered in giant billboards and Russian TV showing some of the world's longest advertisement breaks.

Mr Goldman was typical of many Russian businessmen. A former teacher of Russian language and literature, he quickly reinvented himself and embraced the free market. After surviving the first attempt on his life, Mr Goldman told the media that it might have been linked to a conflict between NFQ's three founders.

Mr Goldman founded the firm in 1992 along with Sergey Fomkin and Maksim Blokh but the founding partners appear to have had a falling out. Some of NFQ's senior executives apparently left the firm in recent times, taking with them big-name clients and leaving behind bad blood. NFQ was yesterday refusing to take any calls from the media.

Contract killings are still common currency in Russia despite President Vladimir Putin's law and order clampdown. It can cost as little as $50,000 to bump off a business rival and politicians are often "eliminated" for making commercially controversial decisions.

Last month the mutilated bodies of two Russian businessmen were found wrapped in plastic sheeting along with their interpreter in the bathroom of a luxury villa in Cyprus. They had been bludgeoned to death with an axe in an unprofessional contract killing which investigators believe was related to a business feud.