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Funeral Held for Russian Governor

October 22, 2002

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MOSCOW (AP) _ Funeral services were held Tuesday for the governor of a far eastern Russian region who was gunned down in an apparent contract hit last week.

Friends and relatives of Valentin Tsvetkov, the governor of Magadan, gathered for services at Moscow’s gold-domed Christ the Savior Cathedral. President Vladimir Putin and other top officials were also due to attend the ceremony, Russian news agencies reported.

Tsvetkov, 54, was to be buried later Tuesday in the capital’s prestigious Vagankovo cemetery alongside some of Russia’s most famous artists and cultural figures.

The governor was killed Saturday with a single bullet to the head while walking to his Moscow office with a deputy during morning rush hour on Novy Arbat, one of Russia’s busiest streets.

Moscow police called it a contract hit, and Putin characterized the killing as a ``crime against the state.″

The frigid, remote Magadan region, about 3,700 miles east of Moscow, has rich supplies of precious metals, particularly gold. As governor, Tsvetkov was closely involved in the industry.

Despite Russia’s efforts to dispel its gangland image, powerful politicians and businessmen remain targets of contract killers. The shootings and murders are often tied to the struggle over mineral wealth in Russia’s far-flung regions.

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