MOSCOW – Zooming around in a Rolls Royce and boasting of ties to Chechnya’s strongman ruler, Mikhail Pakhomov didn’t live the life of the average provincial Russian lawmaker. He didn’t die the death of one either.
Pakhomov, 37, a councilman from the industrial city of Lipetsk, 215 miles south of Moscow, was found beaten to a pulp at the bottom of a barrel of cement Monday after what investigators say was a business deal gone wrong – and a kidnapping that went even worse.
Evgeny Kharitonov, a former senior official in the Moscow regional government, was arrested at a Moscow airport Monday and charged with organizing Pakhomov’s kidnapping over an $80 million debt. A warrant was issued Tuesday for his business partner, Sergei Krasovsky. Four other men are charged with the murder-kidnapping, and another three with a related theft.
The case has gathered wide public attention. Some Russians have referred to it as a postcard from the 1990s, when business, political and criminal interests mixed together and often exploded into violence.
Pakhomov ran Liter, a construction and transport company. After a failed attempt in 2011 to win election to Russia’s parliament as a candidate of the Kremlin-backed United Russia, he became a city councilman last October.
Police accused Kharitonov and Krasovsky of turning to unemployed men from the Moscow region to carry out the kidnapping. Several failed attempts to kidnap him were made last year. Finally, last week, he was bundled into a car as he left a restaurant.