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Boyfriend of Spying Trial Witness Held in Her Death

December 31, 1985|ERIC MALNIC | Times Staff Writer

The boyfriend of a woman who testified in the espionage trial of former FBI agent Richard W. Miller was arrested today on suspicion of murdering her.

The body of Ludmila Kondratjeva, 38, was found Saturday in the back seat of her car, which apparently had rolled off Pacific Coast Highway in Malibu, tumbled 25 feet down an embankment and overturned in the surf.

Vladimir Ratchikhine, 44, was being held without bail this morning at Central Jail.

"An initial investigation indicates that the victim's death was the result of a domestic quarrel," Los Angeles County Sheriff's Deputy Steve Fitzsimmons said. "The suspect and the victim apparently had been living together since 1981."

Homicide investigators refused to speculate on the cause of death pending the completion of tests by the coroner's office, which is not expected to issue its report for about two weeks.

Sources close to the case, including government officials familiar with Kondratjeva's role in the Miller trial, discounted the probability that there is any connection between her death and the espionage case.

"She wasn't a major figure in this case at all," one high-ranking official in the intelligence community said. "If someone wanted to send some kind of message to the Russian emigre community, they would have looked for somebody who was more important."

Kondratjeva was introduced during the Miller trial as a friend of Svetlana Ogorodnikova, who was accused, along with her husband, Nikolai Ogorodnikov, of inducing Miller to pass along information to the Soviet government. Kondratjeva's testimony was used to buttress prosecutors' contentions that Miller and Svetlana Ogorodnikova had been carrying on a clandestine relationship.

The Ogorodnikovs pleaded guilty to espionage charges and both are serving prison terms.

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