MOSCOW, Jan. 26 -- The chief producer of a controversial Russian television interview program was shot dead in his Moscow apartment, police and colleagues said Friday. Police in the Russian capital said they were searching for the killers of Oleg Slabynko, 34, who died from gunshot wounds shortly after neighbors said a pair of unidentified men rang his doorbell late Thursday. Slabynko produced The Moment of Truth, a weekly show on the state-run Russian Television network in which politicians and other high-profile Russians fielded probing questions from the well-known critic Andrei Karaulov. Denis Gubin, the general director of the studio where the program was produced, said colleagues of the slain producer were 'in shock' and were unaware of any possible motive. Slabynko was not widely known, but Karaulov is famous for challenging his interviewees and for his role in a 1993 controversy surrounding alleged financial misdeeds of former Russian Vice President Alexander Rutskoi. Months before he led the parliamentary mutiny that prompted the bloody October 1993 standoff, in which at least 147 people died, Rutskoi was accused of funneling money from a children's charity into a private bank account in Switzerland. At the time, Rutskoi unofficially defended his innocence in a televised interview with the influential Karaulov, but the chief of an anti-corruption commission appointed by President Boris Yeltsin publicly announced Rutskoi was guilty. In a recently-published book, Karaulov wrote that he was aware the charges were false and proved to the anti-corruption chief, Andrei Makarov, that they were false several days before Makarov told millions of Russians Rutskoi was guilty.
The dispute was largely forgotten during the October bloodshed, which landed Rutskoi in prison jail for several months before he and others who had defied Yeltsin were freed by a parliamentary amnesty. In 1994, Moscow Chief Prosecutor Gennady Ponomarev said an official investigation had produced no evidence of Rutskoi's guilt, and many saw the case as an attempt by Yeltsin to blacken the reputation of the former running-mate who had become his most deadly political foe. Yeltsin fired Ponomarev after another killing that shocked the Russian television industry and the nation: the March 1995 slaying of Vladislav Listyev, a famous journalist and talk show host whose killers have eluded Russian law enforcement agencies.