The finance chief of Russia’s largest oil producer, OAO Lukoil, was abducted on his way to work last Thursday, according to reports from Dow Jones and the New York Times.

Lukoil said first VP of finance Sergei Kukura‘s Mercedes was pulled over by masked men in camouflage carrying automatic rifles. They handcuffed Kukura’s driver and bodyguard and gave them sedative injections.

The company said Kukura’s kidnappers abducted him in a car with blue license plates similar to those used by interior ministry entities. The bodyguard and driver regained consciousness hours later in the car, which had been taken to a wooded area outside of Moscow, Lukoil said.

Lukoil spokesman Dmitry Dolgov called the abduction “a mystery,” saying the company had not received any demand for ransom or anything else from the kidnappers.

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The event was a shock to Moscow’s financial community and its observers, who had assumed Russia had moved on from the days of contract killings in the mid-1990’s. Vladimir Putin’s presidency has been credited with stabilizing the business environment, helping to bolster the faith of international investors in Russian companies.

Though Moscow has been plagued recently by a spate of murders, including those of a parliamentary deputy, an insurance executive, and a manager at a state vodka company, executives at Russia’s largest private companies are almost never targets.

The incident came the day after a lobbying group for big business, the Russian Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs, announced plans for an English-language promotional campaign to improve the image of Russian business in the West.

Last month, Russia’s biggest privatization sale of the year was abruptly canceled when the government pulled the sale of a 5.9 percent stake in Lukoil, saying it wasn’t happy with the current market price.

The Russian police, Lukoil’s private security service, and officers of the Federal Security Service (the modern version of the KGB), are investigating the case, Dolgov said. In addition, the Moscow region Prosecutor’s Office has opened its own investigation.

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