Top Russian missile executive gunned down in Moscow

Monday, June 9, 2003

MOSCOW The director of Russia's leading air defense firm has been assassinated.

The Russian executive was shot dead in what could have been an attempt to seize sensitive documents on missile exports to Middle East clients, Russian sources said.

Igor Klimov, director of Almaz Antei, was found dead near his Moscow home on Friday. Russian police sources said he was shot once by an unknown assailant.

Almaz is regarded as the largest anti-aircraft missile developer in Russia. The company focuses on several systems, including the S-300 and the new S-400 Triumph, Middle East Newsline reported.

Officials said the assassin wore camouflage and then threw away his gun after the shooting. They said this was the mark of a contract killer.

The company conducts a large volume of trade in the Middle East. This includes the supply of the Buk-M1-2, Tor-M1 and Pechora short-range surface-to-air missiles to such countries as Egypt and Gulf Arab states.

Russia has also been negotiating the sale of the S-300 to both Iran and Syria. But Russian sources said U.S. pressure has blocked these sales.

In October 2002, Russian President Vladimir Putin approved the establishment of the Almaz-Antei consortium. The consortium was meant to comprise more than 40 enterprises including the Almaz research and production bureau, Kuntsevo design bureau, Ulyanovsk mechanical plant and Moscow's Fakel design bureau.

Under Putin's decree, Almaz-Antei was authorized to produce air defense systems for the entire Russian military. The company has sought to increase exports and production of the S-300PMU system and Almaz was ordered to restructure in an effort to produce up to 50 anti-aircraft systems per year.

Almaz has sought to sell both the S-300 as well as the S-400 to Gulf Arab states. The United Arab Emirates has expressed interest in the Triumph system, said to be capable to detect and destroy airborne targets at a range of up to 400 kilometers, or 2.5 times greater than the older generation S-300PMU.

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