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Lawmaker In Russia's Chechnya Region Shot Dead

Russian officials and politicians say a member of parliament in the North Caucasus region of Chechnya has been shot dead.

The federal Investigative Committee said the regional lawmaker, whom it did not identify by name, was fatally wounded when assailants opened fire on his car early on August 25 on the road between the town of Achkhoi-Martan and Chechnya's capital, Grozny.

Russian Communist Party leader Gennady Zyuganov identified the victim as party member Mukhmad Azkhabov in a condolence statement.

Azkhabov "was a friend, a brother, and a comrade," the statement on the Communist Party website quoted Zyuganov as saying.

He was "a person of deep intelligence, excellent education, and boundless energy" who died on the "upswing of his political career," Zyuganov added.

Neither Zyuganov nor law enforcement authorities said anything about a possible suspect or motive in the slaying.

The North Caucasus region is plagued by deadly violence linked to an Islamist insurgency that is rooted in two post-Soviet separatist wars in Chechnya.

Organized crime, business turf wars, political disputes, and clan rivalry also contribute to the bloodshed.

Government officials, moderate Muslims, journalists, and police are regularly targeted in attacks.

Rights groups and Russian government critics say Chechnya's Kremlin-backed leader, Ramzan Kadyrov, rules the region through fear and intimidation, using police and other armed forces under his control to impose order and crush dissent.

The Investigative Committee said a criminal probe on suspicion of murder and illegal possession of firearms was opened in connection with the killing.

With reporting by Interfax and TASS
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