Russian Sports, Concert Tycoon Gunned Down

Shabtai von Kalmanovic, 60, know for importing WNBA stars
By Will McCahill,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 2, 2009 7:00 PM CST
Kalmanovic seen with his team in a 2006 photo.   (AP Photo)
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(Newser) – A former KGB agent turned sports- and concert-promoter was gunned down today in Moscow, with the submachine gun-toting assailants pulling alongside Shabtai von Kalmanovic’s Mercedes and killing him nearly instantly in a hail of bullets. Kalmanovic, 60, brought stars of the WNBA to Russia during its off-season to play for his Spartak team, winner of the past three European titles.

Investigators tell the Times of London that it appears to be a contract killing, though they as yet have no motive. Kalmanovic served jail time in Israel in the 1980s for spying for the Soviet Union, though a former KGB official tells the Los Angeles Times he doesn’t think Kalmanovic was a full-fledged agent. After returning to Moscow, Kalmanovic went into concert promotions, bringing Michael Jackson, among others, to the country.