MOSCOW, December 25 (RIA Novosti) – A top regional lawmaker in the Caucasus region of Kabardino-Balkaria was shot dead on Tuesday in an apparent contract killing.
Boris Zherukov, 54, who is also the rector of the Kabardino-Balkaria State Agricultural University, was killed at his office in Nalchik by two unidentified men who then fled the scene.
Police are searching for the attackers.
Zherukov led the ruling United Russia party’s faction in the regional legislature.
United Russia has asked Interior Minister Vladimir Kolokoltsev to take personal control of the murder investigation.
A senior party official, State Duma Deputy Speaker Sergei Neverov, expressed outrage at Zherukov’s “brutal killing” and called for “severe punishment” of the attackers.
Vladimir Markin, spokesman for Russia’s Investigative Committee, said investigators were considering several possible motives for Zherukov’s murder, including his professional activities, but were also not ruling out that the “crime was committed by members of illegal armed groups” operating in the republic.
It is the third murder of a university rector in Russia in recent years. In June, 2011, Maksud Sadikov, the head of the Institute of Theology and International Relations in Dagestan, was shot dead in his car in the capital Makhachkala. Sadikov had led government-sponsored efforts to counter violence in the restive region.
Last September, the rector of Saint Petersburg’s University of Service and Economics, Alexander Viktorov, was gunned down near St. Petersburg, apparently in connection with his business activities, investigators said.