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Last Updated: Thursday, 19 October 2006, 11:32 GMT 12:32 UK
Election murder in Russian town
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A candidate for mayor in a far eastern Russian town has been shot dead, just three days before he was due to stand in a vote predicted to be close.

The candidate, Dmitry Fotyanov, 31, was shot several times after leaving his campaign offices in the mining town of Dalnegorsk.

Police say the assailant used a Kalashnikov rifle with a silencer.

A number of political or business figures have been murdered in contract killings in Russia in recent weeks.

Mr Fotyanov, who was a member of the pro-Kremlin United Russia party, had polled almost 50% of the vote against his rival, Alexander Trebilov, in the first round of the mayoral race on 8 October.

The second round was scheduled for this weekend.

Soon after the attack on Mr Fotyanov, a minivan was blown up outside the offices of the local newspaper. Police found two Kalashnikov rifles with silencers presumed to be the murder weapons.

"When one of the two candidates in a second round is killed, the possibility of a political murder should be investigated first," United Russia party leader and speaker of the Duma, Boris Gryzlov, said, quoted by the Interfax news agency.

Russian media report that the race for mayor in Dalnegorsk was marred by mud-slinging and trickery.

The town prosecutor, the police chief and the local judge had all taken annual leave and had left Dalnegorsk during the election campaign, the NEWSru.com website reports.




VIDEO AND AUDIO NEWS
Archive footage of Mr Kozlov



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