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Businessman & politically active father of Russia’s first Formula One driver Vitaly Petrov killed in apparent sniper assassination

Businessman & politically active father of Russia’s first Formula One driver Vitaly Petrov killed in apparent sniper assassination
Alexander Petrov, an influential local businessman and politician, has reportedly been murdered by a sniper outside his home in Russia's Leningrad Region. He was the father of the country's first Formula One driver, Vitaly Petrov.

The elder Petrov was shot dead near his cottage outside Vyborg, a historic city some 130km northwest of St. Petersburg and close to the border with Finland, on Saturday, local media reported, citing police sources. A guard allegedly found Petrov lying on the ground and called an ambulance, but the businessman succumbed to his injuries on the spot.

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Some reports claim a gunman with a sniper rifle was responsible the murder. The shooter is now on the run, his identity unknown. Police have launched an investigation into the high-profile murder, with the chief regional investigator personally involved.

Petrov had been regarded as Vyborg’s most prominent businessman. He reportedly had a stake in almost all of the city's major industries and owned some local shipbuilding and fuel companies. He was also a member of the local council.

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Journalists from the area have repeatedly insinuated that there were links between Petrov and the shadowy criminal underworld, even dubbing him “the master of Vyborg,” but some of those stories led to public retractions when challenged. The murder reignited claims of Petrov’s involvement in mafia circles in the 1990s. However, there is no evidence to suggest a link to the killing, at this point. 

Outside of business and politics, Aleksandr Petrov was also known as the father of Vitaly Petrov – the F1 racing driver who competed for Renault, Lotus Renault GP and Caterham between 2010 and 2013. Vitaly was the first Russian ever to compete in the F1 World Championship, the world's most prestigious motorsport classification. 

Following the news of his father’s death, Vitaly Petrov stepped down from his position as a driver steward at Sunday’s F1 Portuguese Grand Prix “due to [a] personal bereavement,” the International Automobile Federation said.

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