The joys of Moscow

IT seems that Formula 1 people are right to be worried about the idea of hosting a race in Moscow. On Friday morning one of the city's leading administrators was gunned down and killed. Sergei Balashov was the deputy prefect of the western administrative district of Moscow. He was shot by two men on a street in downtown Moscow and died on the spot. The assassins then escaped.

Balashov was in charge of construction projects.

The shooting is reminiscent of a similar attack in December last year when Moscow's deputy-mayor Iosif Ordzhonikidze was gunned down soon after he signed a deal to build a Grand Prix standard racing circuit on Nagatino Island in the southern suburbs of Moscow. Ordzhonikidze was being driven through Moscow on December 23 when two men raked his car with more than 30 bullets from automatic weapons. Ordzhonikidze's chauffeur was killed.

Tom Walkinshaw, who is behind the building of the Nagatino track, said that the shooting had nothing to do with his project. In recent months F1 has been trying to play down the power of organized crime in Russia but the latest attack indicates that an association with Russia is still a risky move for the sport.

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