A prominent Bulgarian businessman was shot dead in broad daylight in Sofia.

A prominent Bulgarian businessman whose rollercoaster career reflected his country’s transition from communism to democracy was shot dead in broad daylight on Wednesday, police said.

Police said that Alexey Petrov died on the spot after being shot by persons unknown around noon in a suburb of the capital, Sofia. A woman who was with him was injured and was taken to an emergency hospital with a gunshot wound.

Pre-trial proceedings have been initiated and police are examining the crime scene.

Petrov, 61, was the target of at least two other attempts on his life.

A karate champion and former state security agent, Petrov left his job in the police after the fall of communism to start a private business. It boomed, and he became an associate in over 50 companies by 2002.

In 2010, he was arrested and charged with running a criminal group engaged in extortion, racketeering, drug trafficking, money laundering, and tax evasion.

He was released on bail and eventually acquitted, while the next year he was even a candidate in the presidential election.’

In recent years, Petrov ran one of the biggest insurance companies in the country. He also served as an adviser to the head of the State Agency for National Security, and for some time was also a university lecturer in economics,

During the 1990s, killings of public figures were a common occurrence in Bulgaria, but the new outburst of violence has shocked the country.