Textile Baron Gunned Down In Apparent Contract Killing

The founder of the country's largest thread and yarn maker was killed in a spray of automatic weapons fire on his way to work Wednesday morning in St. Petersburg, the third apparent contract killing in the city in the past month.

Gennady Ivanov, 45, the general director of Kvarton, was killed when his company car was fired upon in the southeast Kirov region, Itar-Tass reported. Ivanov, who was riding in the front passenger's seat of the Volga, died at the scene.

NTV television showed Ivanov's Volga with the passenger-side window blown out by the gunfire. The rest of the vehicle was untouched.

There was no information on how many gunmen were involved and whether they were in a vehicle or on foot. The fate of Ivanov's driver also was unknown.

Both the St. Petersburg police department and the prosecutor's office refused to comment on the case. They said they were still combing the scene of the crime for evidence that could lead to the apprehension of the killers.

According to Itar-Tass, St. Petersburg police said the murder was most likely a contract hit.

Kvarton, founded by Ivanov in 1995, produces approximately 59 percent of all thread and yarn in Russia and the Commonwealth of Independent States. The company holds a number of large stakes in the St. Petersburg, Moscow and Pskov textile industries and employs about 4,000 people.

On March 23, unknown gunmen opened fire on a St. Petersburg businessman and his family. Sergei Krizhan, 43, was killed and his wife and teenage daughter were wounded. Krizhan was the general director of St. Petersburg-based ORSTG consulting company.

Krizhan's colleague and friend Dmitry Varvarin was shot in the head on March 10, also by an unidentified gunman, in downtown St. Petersburg.

In all, since Jan. 1 there have been 126 murders in St. Petersburg.