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[MOSCOW] Vladimir Kanevsky, general director of Russia's No. 2 outdoor media company, Ator, was shot dead in his car in downtown Moscow on Feb. 5. Four bodyguards traveling with Mr. Kanevsky in his Mercedes-Benz and in the car behind him were unhurt.

Russian daily Kommersant quoted police as saying the murder was a contract killing. Several hundred business executives a year are victims of contract killings in Moscow.

Outdoor advertising is the fastest-growing medium in Russia, totaling $275 million in 2001, up 67% from the year before. Mr. Kanevsky's Ator accounted for sales of $27 million.

"We are all shocked," said Vladimir Evstafiev, head of the Russian Association of Advertising Agencies. "Unlike other industries in Russia, such as banking, metallurgy and the oil and gas sectors, advertising [was considered] a peaceful market."

In the last attempted murder of a Russian advertising executive, back in the mid-1990s, the victim was just slightly wounded.

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