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File photo of Russian Central Bank's Andrei Kozlov, who died September 14, 2006 after being shot outside a Moscow sports club the previous night in an apparent contract hit. - 


MARK AUSTIN THOMAS: The second-in-command at Russia's central bank was shot to death last night in Moscow. Andrei Kozlov had been cracking down on money laundering. From the European Desk in London, Stephen Beard has the story.

STEPHEN BEARD: Forty-one-year-old Kozlov died in hospital after being shot by two unidentified gunmen. His driver also died in the attack.

The Moscow prosecutor says the motive for the shooting is still not clear, but under Kozlov the central bank was cleaning up the Russian banking system. He had revoked the licences of several banks suspected of money laundering.

The killing looks like an assault on President Putin's authority, says Nick Redman of the Economist Intelligence Unit. The Kremlin will have to retaliate.

NICK REDMAN: Certainly this cannot go unanswered. The authorities are going to have to respond to this. There will have to be some sort of clampdown on all the banks and all the business interest that are in the frame.

If Kozlov has been murdered by gangsters, he says, this will be seen as a setback for Putin's effort to shed Russia's reputation for bandit capitalism.

In London, this is Stephen Beard for Marketplace.