Russia to ask Spain to extradite 2 suspects in governor murder

MOSCOW, July 12 (RIA Novosti) - The Russian Prosecutor General's Office said Wednesday it intended to ask Spain for the extradition of two men suspected of killing a Siberian governor in October 2002.

Valentin Tsvetkov, governor of Magadan, a remote territory in northeast Siberia rich in gold, silver, and fishing resources, was shot in the head near his office in downtown Moscow October 18, 2002.

Russian prosecutors said, "On July 7, Spain's law enforcement bodies detained two suspects in the murder of Magadan Region Governor Valentin Tsvetkov: Alexander Zakharov and Martin Babakekhyan. Investigators believe they are members of an organized criminal group linked to the planning and execution of the governor's murder."

The investigation was launched by the Moscow Prosecutor's Office, but later handed over to the Prosecutor General's Office.

Zakharov and Babakekhyan were put on an international wanted list in May 2003.

Two other suspects in the murder case, Masis Akhunts and Artur Anisimov are currently serving jail terms for other grave crimes.

Prosecutors said another two suspects have been put on an international wanted list, but investigators have refused to identify them.

The main channels of inquiry in the investigation have focused on Magadan's gold mining industry, which the late governor had reportedly made moves to streamline, and also the allocation of fishing quotas, and the use of federal funds allocated to supply the region with fuel and other energy resources for winter.

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