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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Rossiya Death Likely Contract Killing

Russia's top prosecutor said Monday that the killing of the Rossiya Hotel's general director, Yevgeny Tsimbalistov, appeared to be another of Moscow's notorious contract killings, and that a special police squad was on the case.

"I heard a report on it yesterday, and it looks very much like a contract murder," Yury Skuratov, Russia's prosecutor general, said of the Tsimbalistov slaying.

Tsimbalistov was gunned down in his apartment building's entrance Friday as he left for work at the hulking, 3,071-room hotel on Red Square. He was the fourth person in the hotel business to fall victim to gangland-style killings in the past 14 months.

American entrepreneur Paul Tatum was gunned down Nov. 3, 1996, outside the Radisson Slavjanskaya while embroiled in a dispute over control of the hotel's business center. Boris Gryaznov, general director of the Sovincenter hotel and business complex, was killed as he left his home last Nov. 13. The daily newspaper Segodnya included in the toll Andrei Ilyukhin, vice president of Mosintour, which held stakes in several hotels. He was slain last March 15.

Police declined to provide additional information about the Tsimbalistov case Monday, but several observers said they doubted his death was part of a struggle for control of the hotel.

The reason: Moscow and its powerful mayor, Yury Luzhkov, control the Rossiya through share holdings in the joint-stock company that runs it. Industry observers say it is unlikely that anyone, even one of Moscow's many violent mafias, could hope to challenge Luzhkov.

"You're not going to get any control over the place by killing him," Lars Gudbergsen, manager in the hotel division for Arthur Andersen, said of Tsimbalistov. "I don't think it's got anything to do with the control of the hotel."

Tsimbalistov was not a high-flying entrepreneur, but more an administrator who simply did the city's bidding, said another hotel consultant, who did not wish to be identified.

A lower-level dispute, such as a clash with a tenant or someone trying to extort protection money from a tenant or concessionaire, are more likely scenarios, said several observers.

Such murders for hire are rarely solved.

, including the Segodnya daily newspaper

. "He was more like a bureaucrat than a political figure or a businessman within the city government," said the consultant

."An operational investigation group has been set up, and the prosecutor's office of Moscow has started the case and intensive work is under way,"he said.