Blogged By: La Tray
Source & Story Credit: Daily Mail – Will Stewart
Photo Credit: Daily Mail
Posted: Sunday May 20, 2012 @2:58 p.m. PST
- Mikhail Kravchenko caused a royal scandal after being pictured holding hands with the princess
- The 46-year-old furniture company tycoon’s bullet-ridden body was found in his Mercedes
- The princess denied an affair with eligible friend Kravchenko, but many believed otherwise
- Police in Moscow are investigating but say the reason why he was targeted remains a mystery
Princess Michael’s Russian friend once dubbed her ‘toyboy’ was shot and killed near Moscow early today in what appears to be a brutal contract murder.
Mikhail Kravchenko, a 46-year-old furniture company tycoon, caused a royal scandal after he and the princess were photographed holding hands and staring lovingly into each other’s eyes as they wandered round Venice during a four day holiday in April 2006.
His bullet-riddled body was found in his Mercedes car at the elite Peredelkino country house neighbourhood close to the Russian capital.
At the time, the princess denied an affair, though many believed the photographs suggested otherwise.
The pictures, originally in the News of the World, raised significant doubts about the state of her royal marriage to Prince Michael of Kent.
‘The body of a man with a gunshot wounds was found at a Mercedes in the Peredelkino neighbourhood,’ said a police source.
Russian news agency Itar-Tass another other sources reported the victim was millionaire Kravchenko.
The immediate reasons why he was targeted are unknown.
He was driving from his home in his limonene around 2am when he was overtaken and the road blocked, say police.
Gunmen shot him five times in his body before dragging him from his car and shooting him in the head.
Some accounts said there were a total of ten shots.
When she was seen with him in Venice, Kravchenko was regarded as one of Moscow’s most eligible men. He has been single since his wife Svetlana and daughter Maria were killed in a car crash five years earlier.
He was also seen as more modest and unassuming than many wealthy Russian businessmen. He would often be seen without bodyguards, a rarity for the new-rich elite in Moscow.
After the pictures were revealed, the princess claimed in Hello magazine: ‘I hold hands with all my friends. I don’t think that’s being intimate at all. I’m a very tactile person. The true nature of our relationship is that it is a very good friendship.’
Her marriage to Prince Michael, the Queen’s cousin, was ‘very strong’.
The princess later worked as a design consultant to Kravchenko who runs several hundred furniture stores across Russia, including the brand March 8, one of the best known in Russia.
The royal couple were later seen together with Kravchenko at a charity event in Russia.
Later in 2006, Kravchenko became seriously ill with malaria while making a travel film in Kenya with a Russian TV crew.
He was flown home. At the time a spokesman for the princess said: ‘As friends, the Prince and Princess are naturally concerned.’
Prince Michael was in Russia last week without the princess. He flew to St Petersburg to be awarded with a degree by a Russian university for services to British-Russian relations.
The prince was mired in controversy last week after revelations he had accepted £320,000 in secret payments from Russian oligarch Boris Berezovsky, a leading foe of President Vladimir Putin.
The payments via an offshore company from Berezovsky – who is exiled in London – were disclosed in court documents.