As Rus­sian hitmen strike in London, we in­ves­ti­gate LIFE IS CHEAP IN WILL GET SOME­ONE KILLED...

Midweek Sport - - NEWS - By JUSTIN DUNN

WHEN Barry Ge­orge was fi­nally cleared of killing TV pre­sen­ter Jill Dando, fin­gers once again pointed at Ser­bian as­sas­sins.

In­ves­ti­ga­tors claim she had up­set war­lord Slo­bo­dan Milo­se­vic and was killed by a Ser­bian hit­man in re­venge.

The the­ory was first floated in the days af­ter she was gunned down out­side of her London home.

But they were dis­missed as far-fetched and in­stead po­lice fo­cused on weirdo Barry Ge­orge who was even­tu­ally cleared in 2008.

Now East­ern Euro­pean hitmen are a com­mon oc­cur­rence on the streets of London and the the­ory is ac­cepted as fact.

In Novem­ber 2006, Rus­sian dis­si­dent Alexan­der Litvi­nenko was mur­dered in London.

Un­sus­pect­ing

Bri­tish prose­cu­tors have named his fel­low EX-KGB agent An­drei Lu­govy as the main sus­pect in his poi­son­ing with deadly ra­dioac­tive polo­nium-210.

It’s thought he tapped a few drops of the liq­uid killer into un­sus­pect­ing Litvineko’s cup of tea.

Lu­govy is also said to have strong ties to the Krem­lin.

And Rus­sian au­thor­i­ties have re­peat­edly re­fused to send him to face trial in the UK.

But it’s not just po­lit­i­cal en­e­mies – af­ter the shoot­ing of Gor­bun­stov, the hun­dreds of Rus­sian oli­garchs who now live in the cap­i­tal are liv­ing in fear.

They say the East­ern Euro­pean mobs re­spon­si­ble for the at­tack have no fear of Bri­tish po­lice and act as if they are in Moscow.

“Ev­ery­body is try­ing to fig­ure out who their en­e­mies might be,” said Yevgeny Chich­varkin, a busi­ness ty­coon who fled to London in 2008 af­ter fall­ing out with the Rus­sian gov­ern­ment.

“You know, if they want to kill me, they’ll kill me,” added Chich­varkin, whose mother died in mys­te­ri­ous cir­cum­stances in Moscow in 2010.

But it’s not just the Rus­sians and the Ser­bians – with much of the world’s fi­nan­cial crime hav­ing a link in some way to London, there is no es­cape.

A po­lice se­ri­ous crime in­ves­ti­ga­tor re­vealed: “It used to be that London was like a safe haven, it was where the deals were done but ev­ery thing was sorted out else­where.

“London was con­sid­ered too se­cure to do any se­ri­ous crime but now with the East­ern Euro­pean gangs tak­ing over they are will­ing to do any­thing, any­where.

“They have no fear.” A RICH Rus­sian gunned down on the streets of London lies in a coma with armed guards at his hospi­tal door, proof the mur­der for hire is rife in Bri­tain.

Banker Ger­man Gor­buntsov, 45, was tar­geted two weeks ago for point­ing the fin­ger at the as­sas­sins who t ried t o kill of Moscow oli­garch Alexan­der Antonov.

Mr Antonov, 61 – dad to for­mer Portsmouth FC owner Vladimir Antonov – lost the use of an arm in the botched at­tempt on his life in Moscow in 2009.

Three Chechen men were later con­victed of at­tempted mur­der – but the mas­ter­mind was never iden­ti­fied.

Po­lice be­lieve Mr Gor­buntsov knows the truth, and that’s why he was gunned down af­ter step­ping out of a taxi at his apart­ment block in swanky Ca­nary Wharf at around 7pm.

In­for­ma­tion

It was the mo­ment the bru­tal Rus­sian gang war­fare came to Bri­tain.

Mr Antonov said: “He had some in­for­ma­tion about how it was pre­pared and wanted to pass it on, that’s it.

“Per­haps be­cause the peo­ple who did it were scared of this in­for­ma­tion get­ting pub­licly

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