Russian politician killed by car bomb

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The Independent Online

Two killers assassinated a politician yesterday by placing a bomb on the roof of his car. Viktor Novosyolov, one of the most important figures in St Petersburg and a member of the local legislature, was blown up in a carefully planned attack.

Two killers assassinated a politician yesterday by placing a bomb on the roof of his car. Viktor Novosyolov, one of the most important figures in St Petersburg and a member of the local legislature, was blown up in a carefully planned attack.

The motive for the murder is still a mystery, but one theory is that Mr Novosyolov was killed because he was the only serious candidate to become speaker of the St Petersburg legislature. Others suggest it was the result of business rivalry. Mr Novosyolov owned a road-repair company.

The attack was the second attempt to kill Mr Novosyolov, who has been in a wheelchair since his legs were blown off by a bomb in 1993.

The murder also comes at an embarrassing moment for Vladimir Putin, the Russian Prime Minister, who earlier in the week told law enforcement officials from the G8, including Janet Reno, the US Attorney General, that he would clamp down on organised crime in Russia.

The attack demonstrated the sophistication of Russian contract killers.The two assassins waited for him at the traffic lights, one of them wearing headphones, presumably so an observer could warn him when the car approached.

One of the men switched the lights to red as Mr Novosyolov neared. (There is a button for police use, allowing them to change the colour.) As the car halted, the second man, wearing a mask, placed the bomb in a plastic bag on its roof.

The bodyguard jumped out and fired two shots, wounding the bomber in the neck, but the killer was still able to press a remote control button. The explosion almost tore off Mr Novosyolov's head. The assassins, both from St Petersburg, were arrested. One is reported to have died in hospital.

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