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Report: Moscow police guarded criminal boss _ until he was slain

March 14, 1997

MOSCOW (AP) _ An elite police unit was moonlighting as bodyguards for a suspected criminal boss _ but they still couldn’t prevent the man’s gangland-style killing near Moscow’s main police station, a newspaper reported Thursday.

Contract killings in Russia are common, and police rarely solve them, but Thursday’s report in the Kommersant newspaper added a new twist to murder in Moscow.

Suspected gangster Vasily Naumov hired members of the elite Saturn police unit _ similar to an American SWAT team _ to spend their off-hours protecting him and his property from potential rivals, the newspaper said.

Despite being guarded by 19 off-duty officers, Naumov was gunned down Feb. 23 near the main police office in downtown Moscow _ and the killers got away.

``The policemen appeared to be bad bodyguards. Naumov was killed and the bodyguards could not even manage to detain the killers or shoot back at them,″ the daily said.

Naumov’s agreement with the policemen called for them to guard his office and property and apparently did not break any laws, the newspaper said. But in reality, they served as Naumov’s private bodyguards, accompanying him when he traveled the streets and even when he dined in restaurants.

After Naumov was killed and police discovered that the Saturn policemen were protecting him, Moscow’s top policeman Nikolai Kulikov reprimanded the officers and told them they could no longer work as private bodyguards.

Naumov’s killing remains unsolved.

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