Russian police detain suspected mastermind of central banker's murder

Russian police on Thursday detained a person suspected of ordering the contract killing of a senior central banker last year, the Prosecutor-General's Office said.

The first deputy chairman of the Central Bank, Andrei Kozlov, was gunned down in Moscow in September in a killing widely seen as connected to his efforts to clean up the banking sector.

The suspect was taken into custody overnight, prosecutor's office spokeswoman Anna Pozdnyakova told The Associated Press. She said that the identity of the suspect was being kept secret in the interests of the investigation and declined to provide any further details.

Russia has seen a spate of high-profile contract killings in recent months and President Vladimir Putin, in his annual televised talk-to-the-nation in October, vowed to bring the perpetrators of the murder of Kozlov and investigative reporter Anna Politkovskaya to justice.

Kozlov was shot point-blank in the head as he left a soccer game between bank employees in Moscow on Sept. 13.

Journalist Anna Politkovskaya, a prominent Kremlin critic who fearlessly exposed human rights abuses in the conflict-torn Russian province of Chechnya, was gunned down in her apartment building on Oct. 7.

Police arrested three Ukrainian citizens in connection with Kozlov's killing shortly afterward, but noted that the suspects had acted on instructions from a third party who was still at liberty, reports AP.

Russian politicians and commentators had at the time aired suspicions that the killing was ordered by criminals under pressure from Kozlov's campaign against money-laundering and organized crime in the Russian financial system.

Kozlov, who had responsibility for banking supervision, oversaw a radical clean-up of Russia's banking sector, closing down dozens of banks suspected of money-laundering.

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