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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

No Answers in Year-Old Murder Case




ST. PETERSBURG -- One year ago this week, Russia was rocked by the assassination of this city's top privatization official, who was gunned down on a Monday morning on Nevsky Prospect.


A roof-top sniper fired several shots through the roof of Deputy Governor Mikhail Manevich's government car, striking him in the chest as he sat in the back seat and killing him. His wife, Maria, seated next to him, was wounded.


Manevich was a member of the so-called Petersburg group of economists, who together mapped out much of Russia's privatization policies. Their most prominent representative is Anatoly Chubais, a former deputy mayor of St. Petersburg and a mainstay of the Kremlin's economic team over the years.


Chubais is now the head of Unified Energy Systems and Russia's point man for negotiating with Western governments and institutions for loans. At the time of the assassination, he was a deputy prime minister, and swore at Manevich's funeral to use his offices to see the killers were tracked down.


Chubais characterized the Manevich murder as a blow against those involved with Russian privatization policies, and security details for such officials were beefed up across the nation.


This week about 150 friends, family and colleagues gathered at Manevich's grave at the Literatorskiye Mostki section of St. Petersburg's Volkovskoye Cemetery, to mark the one-year anniversary of his Aug. 18 death.


Present Tuesday were members of the St. Petersburg government -- excluding Governor Vladimir Yakovlev, who was out of town -- as well as many local politicians who have since moved on to federal posts. St. Petersburg natives Chubais and Deputy Finance Minister Alexei Kudrin, another Petersburg economist and friend of Manevich's were both unable to attend, held up in Moscow by the country's financial crisis.


Former St. Petersburg Mayor Anatoly Sobchak, in a television interview broadcast Tuesday on Channel 11, made the most controversial statement about the Manevich killing -- cryptically and vaguely laying blame for the as-yet unsolved assassination on Yakovlev.


"What happened to Manevich is on the conscience of Vladimir Anatolyevich [Yakovlev]," said Sobchak, who was ousted by Yakovlev at the polls in 1996 and has long nursed a grudge.


Sobchak said Manevich told him shortly before the assassination that certain unidentified people in Yakovlev's administration were pressuring him to sign off on projects he considered illegal.


The investigation into Manevich's murder has been marked from the start by contradictory and often absurd statements by the security service and police. In July, the Interior Ministry announced that eight members of a professional hit squad had confessed to the killing.


But no further developments have been forthcoming, and Manevich's allies continue to express doubts that those who ordered the assassination will ever be brought to justice.


"That this case has not been solved after one year shows that dark forces are winning in our society," said Alexei Liverovsky, a city lawmaker.


Leonid Romankov, another member of the St. Petersburg assembly, said Manevich's murder was a foreboding sign for the future of the city.


"This killing showed me that criminals in our society fear nothing. It gave me a very clear signal that we could be heading for a hopeless situation, where the state is completely corrupted," Romankov said.