Listyev Slaying Suspect Named

A newspaper reported Friday that a man being held in Lefortovo prison in connection with the killing of Russian Public Television chairman Vladislav Listyev is now suspected of having organized the murder himself at the request of a disgruntled advertising agency.

Police, however, denied the report in the Komsomolskaya Pravda newspaper.

"We're not even officially suspecting him of involvement yet, much less of organizing the killing," a spokesman said.

Komsomolskaya Pravda on Friday published an anonymous "letter to the editor" that named a man detained in Georgia two months ago and recently moved to Lefortovo prison to be questioned in the Listyev killing as Igor Dashlamirov, 30.

According to the letter, Dashlamirov was a member of the powerful Solntsevo gang. It claimed he organized the murder of Listyev on behalf of a Moscow advertising agency called GMS, which had turned to the Solntsevo gang for help when Listyev announced his plan to enact an advertising moratorium in order to cleanse the station of corruption.

The paper reported that an unidentified man dropped off a diskette containing the letter at the Komsomolskaya Pravda building Thursday. The police spokesman would not comment on the details of the theory advanced in the Komsomolskaya letter. He did, however, lend some credence to the letter by confirming the name of the suspect.

Listyev, a former host of the game show "Pole Chudes" and the talk show "Vzglyad," was one of the country's most popular television personalities when he became chief of ORT in 1994. His murder March 2, 1995 stunned the country, and authorities' failure to solve the crime has been the most enduring symbol of police ineffectiveness and corruption in the Yeltsin presidency.

Aleksei Pushkov, an ORT spokesman, said GMS is no longer a purchaser of advertising time on the network. He said six companies currently buy and resell advertising time on state television: "Avrora," "Video-Art," "Maksima," "Novaya Kompaniya," "Premiera SV," and "Oster."

He said "Premiera SV," the largest customer, was created by Sergei Lisovsky, who is also the director of ORT-Reklama, the central distributor of ORT advertising time.

Theories about the motives behind the Listyev killing have generally centered around his planned reorganization of ORT's advertising policy. ORT-Reklama, in fact, was Listyev's creation, a body meant to give ORT full control over its advertising time, which had hitherto been sold by the producers of each of the station's programs. It has often been speculated that Listyev was killed by parties opposed to the creation or the structure of ORT-Reklama.

The police spokesman said Dashlamirov had been wanted in connection with the Listyev killing for more than a year. The spokesman did not say why police suspected him of involvement in the murder.