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QUEEN ALEX SHOT DEAD; Mafia kill Miss Russia.

A FORMER Miss Russia beauty queen was shot and killed in a brutal mafia gunfight.

Alexandra Petrova, 20, was not the target but was simply in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Police believe her friend, Radik Akhmetov, a market chief in her hometown of Cheboksary, was the real target.

Akhmetov, who was deputy director of the market in the provincial town 250 miles east of Moscow, was killed instantly and Alexandra died on the way to hospital. Another man, Konstantin Chuvilin, was also killed.

Local Interior Minister Vadim Antonov said: "This well-planned crime was aimed at the two men, who were both known leaders of criminal groups in Cheboksary."

Police, who believe the hit was part of mafia war for control of the market, said the gunman escaped.

Beauty queens face serious danger in Russia.

In 1997, workmen in Greece discovered the dismembered body of Svetlana Kotova, another former Miss Russia.

Boyfriend Alexander Solonik - a mafia boss known as "Alexander the Great" - was also slain in a gangland attack.

President Vladimir Putin has vowed to crack down on Russia's ruthless and powerful mafia gangs.

But dozens of contract killings are carried out each month and the total shows no sign of dropping.
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Author:Dowdney, Mark
Publication:Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:Sep 19, 2000
Words:204
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