Former Concert Promoter Killed

A Moscow women’s basketball team owner who was behind bringing acts including Michael Jackson, Liza Minnelli and Jose Carreras to Russia was shot dead in the street Nov. 2.

Shabtai von Kalmanovic, a Russian-Israeli businessman, received 20 automatic rifle wounds and died at the scene of the drive-by shooting close to central Moscow’s famed Novodevichy Monastery. His driver was critically wounded and hospitalized.

Russian newswires reported that Kalmanovic’s driver initially tried to pursue the Russian Lada car that fired the shots and then vanished. But he was forced to stop because of the severity of his wounds.

Kalmanovic, who owned the internationally successful Spartak women’s basketball team, was born in Lithuania and moved to Israel with his family in the early 1970s.

He was reportedly known for his close ties with Israeli leaders, including former Prime Minister Golda Meir and former finance minister Yigal Horowitz, but was jailed for 10 years for spying for the Soviet KGB in 1988.

He was released after seven years due to health problems and moved to Moscow where he made his fortune in construction, becoming one of the most prominent millionaires in the new Russia. He was also named manager of the Russian women’s basketball team.

In another role as concert promoter, he brought the hottest international stars of the day to Moscow including Michael Jackson, Liza Minnelli and Jose Carreras.

“We are looking at the possibility that the murder was a contract killing,” said the head of the investigative committee of prosecutors in Moscow, Anatoly Bagmet, according to the ITAR-TASS news agency.

He said investigators would look into whether the killing was linked to Kalmanovic’s professional activities. Russia became notorious after the breakup of the Soviet Union for its frequent contract killings of businessmen carried out by a shady criminal underworld.

One of Russia’s most notorious mafia kingpins, Vyacheslav Ivankov, known by his nickname of Yaponchik, (“Little Japanese”), died in Moscow in early October after suffering serious injuries in an assassination attempt in July.