Police in Russia have detained an alleged gangster on suspicion of organising the contract killing of Princess Michael of Kent’s close friend Mikhail Kravchenko. The furniture tycoon, with whom she shared a four day break in Venice in 2006, was gunned down near his home nine days ago. Alexei Pronin, 36, who is being held in Moscow over the shooting, has previously served time in jail and is said to have been a security consultant for Kravchenko, though this has not been confirmed. Some reports say Pronin has confessed to organising the hit. A police source said: “Alexei Pronin is known in the Ryazan region as a “member of Slony (Elephants) criminal grouping”. Sources said a Lada car bought by Pronin in Ryazan was used by two assassins to drive to Moscow. The names of the gunmen are said to be known by police. The princess and her husband Prince Michael were described as “very distressed” over her friend’s murder. Kravchenko was at the centre of a royal scandal in 2006 after being photographed hand in hand with Princess Michael in Venice, raising questions about her marriage. Both denied an affair. The Moscow arrest follows claims that Kravchenko had been threatened by business enemies over his furniture empire.
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