Russian Lawmaker Mikhail Pakhomov Found Dead in Barrel of Cement

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In a private basement garage on the outskirts of Moscow, inside a rusted metal barrel filled with concrete, the badly-beaten body of a Russian politician was found, in what investigators believe was a murder ordered over an $80 million unpaid debt.

Mikhail Pakhomov was a city council member in Lipetsk, a city located around five hours south of Moscow. He had been missing since February 12, when authorities believe he was originally kidnapped.

“The nature of the injures permits the conclusion that he was murdered,” Russia’s investigative committee told the Interfax news agency on Monday.

Russian television stations showed investigators removing the body on Sunday evening from the garage where the police say he had been tortured and killed over an outstanding loan. The barrel was discovered in the garage on Sunday night; however, police have not released the name of the garage property owner.

According to RIA Novosti, authorities have officially detained eight people who are suspected of involvement with the murder/kidnapping.

The alleged mastermind of the operation is reported to be Yevgeny Kharitonov. Kharitonov ,a former Moscow regional official, is believed to be the person that Pakhomov owed the $80 million.

The Moscow Times reports Kharitonov was arrested as he boarded a domestic flight at a Moscow airport.

Mikhail Pakhomov was first reported to be missing early last week from Lipetsk, an industrial city 270 miles southeast of Moscow, where he served as a regional lawmaker, according to an official report obtained from the state-run RIA-Novosti news agency. Witnesses reported seeing three men drag him from his car. The police also stated they found traces of blood at the scene.

Later on Thursday, some of the Pakhomov's personal property was reportedly found in a car that was searched during a routine traffic stop near Moscow. The search continued for almost a week, until people questioned by the police led investigators to the body.

“A similar event has never happened with a V.I.P. in our city,” read an editorial by Gorod48, a news Web site in Lipetsk. “Even in the ‘evil ’90s’ nobody disappeared: businessmen were killed right where they lived or worked, and bandits from competing groups shot or blew each other up wherever they happened to be.”

Pakhomov served in the city parliament of Lipetsk, a city of a half-million people. He was a member of the ruling United Russia party.

(New York Times)