There has been a tribute from the highest level for a top Russian bank official whom police believe was killed over his crackdown on financial crime. Prime Minister Mikhael Fradkov led his cabinet in a minute’s silence. As first deputy chairman of the central bank, Andrei Kozlov spearheaded a drive against money laundering and irregular financial practices. Western analysts say Russia, due to its huge number of banks, provides a way for criminal gangs into the financial system. Kozlov’s department was closing suspect banks at the rate of two or three a week. He was gunned down outside a sports stadium in Moscow on Wednesday night. He died some hours later in hospital. His driver was also killed.
The killing has raised fears of a return to the early post-Soviet era when attacks on financial leaders were commonplace. The head of the Russian Bank Association, Alexander Murychev, believes that might happen: “From an emotional point of view, it seems we have stepped back in time 10 years in terms of the methods used to solve problems,” he said. Commentators say that while Kozlov achieved a lot, his killing shows that much work still remains to be done in ridding Russian banking of crime.