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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Choral Synagogue Official Killed in His Apartment

An official at the Central Choral Synagogue was found shot to death in his Moscow apartment after he failed to appear at work, law enforcement officials said Thursday.

There was no known motive for the killing of Rakhamim Yukhanov, 68, a treasurer for one of the Jewish communities that holds services at the synagogue, but a synagogue official said he doubted the motive was anti-Semitism.

Yukhanov was found Wednesday morning with a gunshot wound in his skull, said Svetlana Petrenko, a spokeswoman for the city prosecutor's office.

City police, however, said Yukhanov was also stabbed several times in the upper body and that a knife with a broken handle was found near the body. Petrenko said she could not confirm the stabbing.

Yukhanov's body was discovered in his apartment on Severny Bulvar in northern Moscow by synagogue workers who were worried by his absence from work, police said. He is thought to have been dead for a few days.

An investigation into the murder has begun and prosecutors are looking into "all possible motives," Petrenko said. She refused to elaborate.

Yukhanov was the treasurer for a Sephardic Jewish community, which holds services at the synagogue on Bolshoi Spaso-Glinishchevsky Pereulok in central Moscow.

Leopold Kaimovsky, the director of the Jewish Cultural Center at the Central Choral Synagogue, said Yukhanov's post was "not a high post." Kaimovsky said he had no idea what could have motivated someone to kill Yukhanov but said it most likely was not "national hatred."

Kaimovsky himself has been the target of a vicious anti-Semitic attack. In July, he was stabbed several times with a hunting knife by Nikita Krivchun, 20, who approached him in the synagogue.

In an interview with NTV television aired shortly after the attack, Krivchun said his attack was "a political act." "I have a slogan: 'Struggle with Evil.' Struggle with evil, that is with Judaism," he said.

Moscow synagogues have been the targets of numerous attacks in recent years.

Last May, two separate explosions went off near the Choral Synagogue and the Mariina Roshcha Synagogue in northern Moscow, which was previously damaged by a bomb in May 1998. No one was hurt in the bombings.

In July, a rabbi's child found a bomb in the Lubavitch Synagogue on Bolshaya Bronnaya Ulitsa, near Pushkin Square. The bomb was defused by police and no one was injured.

Neo-Nazi groups have denounced Jews at public rallies and some members of the State Duma, the lower house of parliament, have made virulent anti-Semitic remarks.

Jewish leaders say this atmosphere has emboldened some radicals to commit crimes against Jews and Jewish institutions.