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Russia's Tass says business chief murdered

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MOSCOW, Russia (Reuters) -- The business chief of Russian state news agency Itar-Tass was found knifed to death at his flat in central Moscow on Monday, but prosecutors said the killing could be linked to a personal dispute.

Anatoly Voronin, 55, Tass's business manager, died "from stab and slash wounds," a spokeswoman for the Moscow prosecutor's office said.

"The investigation is looking at various motives but for the time being investigators do not have grounds to say the killing was connected to the dead man's work," said Svetlana Petrenko, spokeswoman for Moscow city prosecutor's office.

Deputy Moscow prosecutor Alexei Grigoryev went to the scene of the murder at Voronin's flat in central Moscow.

"Most likely, Grigoryev believes, is that the killing was linked to a personal dispute and therefore investigators are studying a group of the deceased's acquaintances. This version is being looked at very closely," Petrenko said.

'A colossal loss'

Tass sources told Reuters that Voronin was supposed to return to work on Monday from holiday and his driver waited three hours for him outside his block of flats in Moscow this morning before returning to Tass to report him missing.

With Tass officials, the driver went up to his flat and found the door open with all of his things scattered all over the flat and saw Voronin's body, the sources told Reuters.

"It is a colossal loss for Tass," said Ludmila Perkina, an editorial official at Tass's main news center in Moscow.

"He did so much for Tass. He tried to do everything so that we -- the journalists -- could work. Our hearts are very heavy today."

Voronin had worked at Tass for 23 years. A murder case has been opened by Moscow prosecutors into Voronin's death.

The murder of Anna Politkovskaya on October 7 underlined the risks some reporters in Russia face when delving into viperous underworld where crime and politics overlap.

Several other recent murders, including the killing of a deputy chairman of the Central Bank and a senior engineer at one of Russia's top oil firms, have raised fears of a return to the bandit capitalism that gripped Russia during the 1990s.

Itar-Tass, which traces its history to the St. Petersburg Telegraph Agency, founded in 1904, became the main official news agency of the Soviet Union both at home and abroad.

Tass (Telegraph Agency of the Soviet Union) became Itar-Tass in 1992 after the fall of the Soviet Union.

Copyright 2006 Reuters. All rights reserved.This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.


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