Klimov Suspects Acquitted

The Moscow City Court on Friday acquitted two men suspected of ordering the 2003 killing of Igor Klimov, head of the powerful air-defense manufacturer Almaz-Antei, a court spokeswoman said.

A jury acquitted defendants Konstantin Bratchikov and Stanislav Tyurin on Thursday of ordering Klimov's murder, and a judge on Friday formally cleared them of any charges, court spokeswoman Anna Usachyova said.

Bratchikov was released from custody Friday, while Tyurin, who had been at large, had the warrant for his arrest rescinded, Usachyova said.

It was the second time that both men had been acquitted of the crime. The Moscow City Court cleared Bratchikov and Tyuring of any wrongdoing in August 2007, though the Supreme Court overturned the ruling in November 2007.

Klimov, a former aide in the presidential administration, was shot dead outside his Moscow apartment on June 6, 2003. His murder was followed later the same day by the killing of Sergei Shchitko, commercial director at Almaz-Antei subsidiary RATEP.

The murders were widely viewed at the time as an attempt to hinder the integration of the Almaz-Antai, the country's biggest defense company, which produces anti-aircraft missile systems.

In October 2005, seven people were convicted and sentenced in Klimov's murder and the killing of his director at Prommashinstrument, Yelena Neshcheret.

While executors in contract murders are sometimes convicted in Russian courts, those who order the killings are rarely brought to justice.