Murders panic Russian business elite

As a top banker is buried, government comes under fire for failing to stop contract killings

Moscow - Amid tight security, the Prime Minister, Viktor Chernomyrdin, led a gathering of Russia's business and political elite yesterday at the funeral of Ivan Kivelidi, a senior banker who was poisoned in an apparent contract killing.

Businessmen angrily criticised the government for failing to stamp out gangland murders, a failure Mr Chernomyrdin himself acknowledged in calling on Monday for a crackdown on organised crime.

The Prime Minister was among several hundred mourners at the mayor's office in Moscow, where Kivelidi's body lay in state. The mayor, Yuri Luzhkov, and two senior aides to President Boris Yeltsin, Georgy Satarov and Alexander Livshits, also attended. Mr Yeltsin sent a message of condolence.

Dozens of bodyguards and policemen stood by to protect the politicians and businessmen, who arrived in shiny Volvo and Mercedes cars. The crackle of radios and the beep of cellular phones broke into the solemn music played over loudspeakers.

Wearing a black armband on his navy suit, Mr Chernomyrdin added a bunch of red roses to the sea of wreaths and flowers around the coffin and stood for a few moments in silence near Kivelidi's family. Several hundred mourners, some clutching icons, attended the burial later at the Vagankovskoye cemetery.

Sergei Yushenkov, a liberal MP, said Kivelidi's killing did not appear to be politically motivated. But the presence of Mr Chernomyrdin and other senior politicians at the service indicated government recognition that Russia's spiralling murder rate must be stopped. Most of the 500 recorded contract killings in Russia last year remain unsolved.

Kivelidi, 46, the most prominent businessman to be killed in Russia this year, died on Friday in a poisoning that also killed his secretary. Newspapers reported that the poison, believed to be the salts of a heavy metal such as cadmium, was slipped into their tea and smeared on a telephone. Kivelidi headed both Rosbiznesbank, a leading bank, and the Russian Business Round Table, the country's most influential business organisation, with close ties to Mr Chernomyrdin.

Vladimir Shcherbakov, the deputy head of the Round Table, dismissed the latest government promises to take on criminal gangs. "It's worse than Chicago [in the 1920s]," he said. "There, gangs just shot at each other - here, a black, corrupt type of business is destroying civilised life."

According to Mr Shcherbakov, whose organisation represents the 200 largest businesses in Russia, there were 90 attacks on businessmen in the past year, in which 46 were killed. Nine of the Round Table's own senior members were among the murder victims. "Not one conviction has been made," he said. "No one has enough security to protect themselves against snipers or poison."

Kivelidi frequently criticised the Interior Ministry for its failure to protect businessmen and investigate their murders. He condemned the killing of Oleg Kantor, head of the Yugorsky Bank, who was stabbed to death last month.

On Monday a restaurant manager and his seven-year-old daughter died when the businessman's car was blown apart by a powerful bomb in the Far Eastern port of Vladivostok.

voicesGood for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, writes Grace Dent
The University of California study monitored the reaction of 36 dogs
sciencePets' range of emotions revealed
Life and Style
fashion Designs are part of feminist art project by a British student
Arts and Entertainment
The nomination of 'The Wake' by Paul Kingsnorth has caused a stir
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Arts and Entertainment
The Tour de France peloton rides over a bridge on the Grinton Moor, Yorkshire, earlier this month
Snoop Dogg pictured at The Hollywood Reporter Nominees' Night in February, 2013
people... says Snoop Dogg
Life and Style
food + drinkZebra meat is exotic and lean - but does it taste good?
Arts and Entertainment
Residents of Derby Road in Southampton oppose filming of Channel 4 documentary Immigration Street in their community
voicesSiobhan Norton on why she eventually changed her mind
Scottish singer Susan Boyle will perform at the Commonwealth Games opening ceremony in Glasgow
commonwealth games
Arts and Entertainment
Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson stars in Hercules
filmReview: The Rock is a muscular Davy Crockett in this preposterous film, says Geoffrey Macnab
Life and Style
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

BI Manager - £50,000

£49000 - £55000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: My client is...

BI Project Manager - £48,000 - £54,000 - Midlands

£48000 - £54000 per annum + Benefits package: Progressive Recruitment: My clie...

VB.Net Developer

£35000 - £45000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: If you're pa...

SAP Business Consultant (SD, MM and FICO), £55,000, Wakefield

£45000 - £55000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: SAP Business...

Day In a Page

Screwing your way to the top? Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth

Screwing your way to the top?

Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, says Grace Dent
Climate change threatens to make the antarctic fur seal extinct

Take a good look while you can

How climate change could wipe out this seal
Man Booker Prize 2014 longlist: Crowdfunded novel nominated for first time

Crowdfunded novel nominated for Booker Prize

Paul Kingsnorth's 'The Wake' is in contention for the prestigious award
Tour de France effect brings Hollywood blockbusters to Yorkshire

Tour de France effect brings Hollywood blockbusters to Yorkshire

A $25m thriller starring Sam Worthington to be made in God's Own Country
Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy': A land of the outright bizarre

Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy'

A land of the outright bizarre
What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

‘Weird Al’ Yankovic's latest video is an ode to good grammar. But what do The Independent’s experts think he’s missed out?
Can Secret Cinema sell 80,000 'Back to the Future' tickets?

The worst kept secret in cinema

A cult movie event aims to immerse audiences of 80,000 in ‘Back to the Future’. But has it lost its magic?
Facebook: The new hatched, matched and dispatched

The new hatched, matched and dispatched

Family events used to be marked in the personal columns. But now Facebook has usurped the ‘Births, Deaths and Marriages’ announcements
Why do we have blood types?

Are you my type?

All of us have one but probably never wondered why. Yet even now, a century after blood types were discovered, it’s a matter of debate what they’re for
Honesty box hotels: You decide how much you pay

Honesty box hotels

Five hotels in Paris now allow guests to pay only what they think their stay was worth. It seems fraught with financial risk, but the honesty policy has its benefit
Commonwealth Games 2014: Why weight of pressure rests easy on Michael Jamieson’s shoulders

Michael Jamieson: Why weight of pressure rests easy on his shoulders

The Scottish swimmer is ready for ‘the biggest race of my life’ at the Commonwealth Games
Some are reformed drug addicts. Some are single mums. All are on benefits. But now these so-called 'scroungers’ are fighting back

The 'scroungers’ fight back

The welfare claimants battling to alter stereotypes
Amazing video shows Nasa 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action

Fireballs in space

Amazing video shows Nasa's 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action
A Bible for billionaires

A Bible for billionaires

Find out why America's richest men are reading John Brookes
Paranoid parenting is on the rise - and our children are suffering because of it

Paranoid parenting is on the rise

And our children are suffering because of it