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#23 - JRL 7187
Party member suspected in lawmakers killing
May 19, 2003

MOSCOW - Suspects in the murder of a prominent liberal Russian lawmaker have alleged the involvement of a former legislator from the nationalist Liberal Democratic Party, the victim's sister told Echo of Moscow radio.

Galina Starovoitova, one of the most prominent women in Russian politics, was gunned down in the stairwell of her St. Petersburg apartment building in November 1998. That killing and the slayings of regional Deputy Governor Mikhail Manevich and scores of businessmen and bankers in recent years have given St. Petersburg - once Russia's imperial capital - a reputation as a magnet for contract killers.

Investigators said last fall that they had arrested six people in connection with Starovoitova's killing but they have publicly revealed next to no information about the suspects. A St. Petersburg prosecutor said earlier that two men who were extradited to Russia from the Czech Republic in February 2002 on suspicion of involvement in contract killings and kidnappings might have been connected with the Starovoitova case.

Four other suspects are being sought, the gazeta.ru website reported Monday.

Starovoitova's sister, Olga Starovoitova, told Echo of Moscow on Sunday that the slain lawmaker's family was reviewing the investigation materials. She said that the former legislator who had been implicated by other suspects was living abroad, and that she could not identify him for fear of compromising the investigation.

Gazeta.ru said "there is information" that former Liberal Democratic Party lawmakers Mikhail Glushchenko and Vyacheslav Shevchenko were among the wanted suspects. It said the two were rumored to have ties with an organized crime group.

Liberal Democratic Party head Vladimir Zhirinovsky told TV6 television that neither law enforcement agencies nor his party had any information on the allegations. /The Associated Press/

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