Russian mayor shot dead

Moscow - The mayor of a Russian town just outside Moscow was shot dead on Monday in a possible contract killing, investigators said.

Yevgeny Dushko, mayor of Sergiyev Posad, a town of 105 000 people about 60km north of the capital, was leaving his apartment building when an unidentified gunman shot him twice, the Investigative Committee said.

"The victim died from his wounds in the hospital," it said in a statement.

Dushko was voted in as mayor in April by the 25-person local parliament in a new municipal elections system that excludes a popular vote.

"The circumstances of the murder point to a possible contract killing," the committee's spokesperson Vladimir Markin said in televised remarks. He added that it could be related to Dushko's work as mayor or "previous business involvement".

Dushko's father Anatoly Dushko told Moscow Echo radio that his son was killed for interfering with the business interests of various local businessmen and officials.

Previous confrontation

"I said on multiple occasions that he is being threatened," he said.

"The city is in shock," a local administration employee Olga Solnyshkina told Vesti radio. "His last major project was to sort out the city's utilities and housing," a notoriously corrupt sphere in Russia.

Before he became mayor, the 35-year-old Dushko chaired the local parliament and was in staunch opposition to the previous mayor. He is also described as a former professional weightlifter on official websites.

Dushko studied sociology and philosophy in Moscow and also worked as a human resources specialist before becoming involved in local politics.

In July 2009, he claimed in the local press that four "muscular goons" had confronted him "so that the local parliament does not take any decisions that are not favourable" to specific firms seeking access to construction projects.

Broad-daylight attacks against officials and businessmen were most common in Russia in the 1990s, when various groups contested for influence amid market reforms, and are less frequent today.

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