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  • International
    Russian opposition candidate dies of gunshot wounds

    Moscow (AP): An opposition party candidate who was shot by unidentified gunmen in the entryway of his apartment building in a southern Russian republic has died of his wounds, his party said.

    Farid Babayev, a Yabloko party candidate in Russia's Dec 2 parliamentary elections, was shot late Wednesday in Makhachkala, the capital of Dagestan. Doctors said he was shot four times, including at least once in the head.

    Yabloko leader Grigory Yavlinsky connected Babayev's death to his efforts to hold the authorities accountable for human rights abuses in Dagestan.

    The region is troubled by violence linked to the separatist conflict in neighboring Chechnya, a police crackdown on Islamic militancy and internal power struggles.

    Babayev had spoken out about human rights abuses, organized protests and criticized regional authorities, Yavlinsky said in a statement issued yesterday. He had investigated the shooting of a peaceful demonstrator, the abductions of civilians and the use of excessive force in special police operations, the statement said.

    "Farid Babayev became one more victim of the authoritarian regime of (President Vladimir) Putin, where the physical destruction of your political opponents has become the norm," Yavlinsky's statement said.

    Babayev had been Yabloko's top regional candidate in the elections for the State Duma, Russia's lower house of parliament.

    In a campaign dominated by the Kremlin-backed United Russia party, opinion polls indicate Yabloko will fall far short of the seven per cent threshold parties must clear to win seats in the Duma.


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