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Slain Russian Businessman To Be Buried In Israel

Shabtai Kalmanovich with U.S. basketball player Lisa Leslie in Moscow in January 2006.
Shabtai Kalmanovich with U.S. basketball player Lisa Leslie in Moscow in January 2006.
MOSCOW -- Prominent Russian businessman Shabtai Kalmanovich, who was shot dead in Moscow on November 2, will be buried in Israel, RFE/RL's Russian Service reports.

Russian authorities say the murder of Kalmanovich -- who was shot multiple times in his car in Moscow by assailants in a passing car -- was likely a contract killing.

Aaron Munblit, the general director of Israel's Congress of Russian Speaking Journalists, told RFE/RL that Kalmanovich's daughter, Liat, is in Moscow to take her father's body to Israel, where he will be buried on November 5.

Kalmanovich was born in Lithuania in 1947 and left the Soviet Union with his parents in 1971.

According to Munblit, Kalmanovich was allowed to leave the USSR for Israel after agreeing to cooperate with the KGB.

Kalmanovich became one of the richest people in Israel in the 1980s, largely through his involvement in the diamond business. But in 1988 he was sentenced to nine years in jail for spying for the Soviet Union.

Yakov Kedmi, a former chief in the Israeli secret services, said that while in jail Kalmanovich found employment for the son of a prison official where he served his term and was thus rewarded with special food deliveries from nearby restaurants and allowed to have people visit his cell.

Israeli President Chaim Herzog pardoned Kalmanovich in 1993, after serving only five years of his prison term.

He also had extensive business ties in Africa.

In Russia, he organized concerts and tours of world's pop stars, including those of Liza Minnelli, Michael Jackson, and Tom Jones. He was an owner of Russia's female basketball club Spartak, which has won three straight European championships and was boosted by the presence of well-known stars from the United States.

Kalmanovich also renovated Moscow's prominent Tishinski market and was involved in other significant construction businesses in Moscow.

He was also a business partner of Russia's influential singer Iosef Kobzon.