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Russia: Manevich Death Investigation Gains Momentum

St. Petersburg, 5 September 1997 (RFE/RL) -- Two weeks after the assassination of St. Petersburg city Vice Governor Mikhail Manevich, law-enforcement authorities have made public sketches of a suspected sniper and his accomplices and City Hall has put up a $100,000 reward.

Until now, the investigation has been notable mostly for bureaucratic conflict between the police and the Federal Security Service, or FSB, under whose jurisdiction the investigation ultimately falls.

Shortly after the assassination, the prosecutor general reclassified the case from "murder" -- usually handled by the police -- to article 277, which covers terrorism and attacks on state officials, putting the investigation under FSB jurisdiction.

The FSB, the successor organization to the Soviet KGB, has set up a 24-hour confidential telephone desk with two telephone numbers for people who have information on the killing.

Investigators have assigned blame for the assassination to what they called only "criminal structures." But Thursday, Ruslan Linkov, assistant to State Duma Deputy Galina Starovoitova, contended that Manevich had been threatened by a notorious gang. He said that Manevich -- who was assassinated August 18 -- had planned the next day to give Starovoitova documentary evidence of the threats. Linkov said that the gang members were pressuring Manevich to give them shares in unnamed city enterprises. Anatoly Ponidelko, St. Petersburg's police chief, in his first press conference after his appointment late last year, said his most important task in office would be to fight the city's Tambovsky mafia. At the time, Ponidelko said the group had representatives in the governor's office.