Newspaper owner killed near home

  • 2001-03-15
  • TBT staff
TALLINN - Vitali Haitov, owner of the two largest Russian language newspapers in Estonia, was shot on the afternoon of March 9 near his home.

Haitov, 56, died immediately after an unknown killer shot him twice in the head when he was parking his Nissan in a western suburb of Tallinn. The only witness to the accident was Haitov's 9-year-old grandson Vitali.

The grandson called his mother from Haitov's mobile phone. Haitov's wife then called the police. The boy could not describe the killer and only remembered him wearing a blue jacket.

Vitali Haitov's son, Marian Haitov, was killed less than a year ago, in April 2000. His killer has never been caught.

Vitali Haitov promised to personally avenge the murder of his son, and now one of scenarios the police are pursuing was that Haitov senior was killed to prevent an act of vengeance being carried out.

As the publisher of Estonia, the largest Russian-language daily in the country, and Vesti Nedelya Plus, the largest Estonian weekly in Russian, Vitaly Haitov was well-known among politicians and in business circles.

He was a retired Soviet naval officer with a large number of decorations, was a member of the Soviet Naval Veterans club and had Russian citizenship. Sergei Ivanov from the Russian Baltic Party of Estonia said the murder could not have a criminal background. "Haitov was an honest man," said Ivanov.

The co-owners of the Estonia daily, Gennady Ever and Yevgeny Ragrin, said that they were unable to understand what could have caused the murder, just as Ilya Nikiforov, the daily's editor-in-chief.

According to the police, the killer used a 6.35 millimeter caliber gun. The killer entered the yard of Haitov's house, shot Haitov's dog, a Rottweiler, and then immediately shot Haitov as he was opening the car door.