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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Questions Linger on Tatum Murder

As friends and colleagues of murdered U.S. businessman Paul Tatum prepare for a memorial service in his honor Wednesday, increasing attention is being focused on some unanswered questions concerning the attack.


Tatum, a 40 percent shareholder in the Radisson Slavjanskaya Hotel complex who had been engaged in a long-running battle for control of the property, was gunned down at 5 p.m. on Nov. 3 as he entered the Kievskaya metro station with two bodyguards.


According to the police, Tatum was attacked as he reached the bottom of the steps. His assassin leaned over the parapet above and fired a burst of 11 rounds from a Kalashnikov into Tatum's upper body, jumping afterwards into a nearby car and fleeing.


But on Tuesday, Tatum's friends gave a press conference at which they said high government officials had taken sides against the maverick businessman before his death, while a Western security consultant said several facts at the scene do not add up.


?The most obvious question is why Tatum was using the metro at all -- but this, at least, seems to be accepted as innocent.


An American businessman and friend of Tatum's said that in the weeks before the murder Tatum regularly travelled on public transport, particularly after the management of the hotel denied him the use of their cars.


The businessman also said Tatum had dropped his guard lately, despite advice from friends, arguing that "they would have done it a long time ago. They're not going to do it now."


Faced with the choice between taking a taxi, and traveling on public transport, taking the metro was the safest option, said the security expert, a former serviceman sustained by Tatum were concentrated in his torso.


?Where were the bodyguards?


Vyacheslav Anfinogenov, the investigator with the western district prosecutor's office who is handling the Tatum case, said Tuesday that at the time of the attack, one bodyguard was 2 meters ahead of Tatum and the second followed 4 meters behind.


After Tatum was hit, one of the guards went to his aid and the other ran off to raise the alarm, according to Sergei Seleznyov, spokesman for the Legion Security Agency which employed the two men. The bodyguards were unable to give chase to the assassin, as he was standing above them, and immediately jumped into a waiting car, Seleznyov said.


Besides, said the spokesman, the security agency was hired not to protect Tatum himself, but to guard his property. "It was the job [of the bodyguards] to control the situation around Tatum, not to protect him personally," he said.


However, the British security expert found the conduct of Tatum's minders grossly incompetent at the very least.


"A professional bodyguard would have thrown himself in front, or on top of Tatum -- that should have saved him," he said. "[Tatum's] bodyguards may as well have not been there."


Anfinogenov said investigators had looked into the possibility that Tatum's bodyguards were complicit in the killing, but added that it was not their principal line of inquiry. "I think that will hardly turn out to be the case, but we are investigating it anyway," he said.


At their press conference Tuesday, friends of Tatum tried to clear his name, saying that reports in the Russian press that he had been involved in shady business dealings did not do justice to the man.


"It is not enough that he has been killed, but now they have to slaughter his good name," said Tatum associate Igor Kharichev. "[Tatum] has been portrayed as a scandal-monger who is not worthy of pity. We know that he was a clean, honest person."


Since 1992, Tatum had been locked in battle with representatives of the Moscow State Property Committee, one of his partners in the $50 million Radisson Slavjanskaya hotel complex. The businessman's friends said Tuesday that the Property Committee and the Moscow authorities had for the last two years joined together in a dirty tricks campaign against Tatum.


According to Nezavisimaya Gazeta journalist Sergei Mitrofanov, Tatum had been falsely arrested, and had his passport confiscated for no reason.


"The pressure on him could only have been sanctioned by a high-ranking official, and I would like the media to pay attention to that fact," Mitrofanov, who interviewed Tatum shortly before his death, told reporters.


A memorial service for Tatum is to take place Wednesday at the Olympic Penta hotel, after which his body is to be cremated and buried in Moscow. Friends and associates have been invited to attend the service, which will take place at 7 p.m. The Radisson Slavjanskaya hotel's management decided not to permit the ceremony on their premises.