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Hundreds Attend Funeral of Murdered Russian Lawmaker


Hundreds of Russians have attended the funeral of a prominent Russian lawmaker who was gunned down in front of his house in Moscow. The opposition lawmaker was killed just hours after he announced his party was ready to take part in Russia's parliamentary elections in December.

Politicians, human rights activists and ordinary Russians paid their last respects to Sergei Yushenkov, a prominent politician and human rights activist killed in what police believe was a contract murder.

Mr. Yushenkov was shot four times near his house in northern Moscow Thursday and died on the spot.

In a farewell ceremony Sunday, mourners left roses and carnations, as they walked past the open casket. Mr. Yushenkov was later buried at a Moscow cemetery.

In a message read at the funeral, Russian President Vladimir Putin said Mr. Yushenkov was a "brilliant politician who defended democracy and freedom in Russia."

Federal investigators are looking into Mr. Yushenkov's financial and personal affairs. But the lawmaker's allies say he was not involved in any business dealings, and did not control his party's finances. They believe the killing was political.

In recent years, Mr. Yushenkov led the Duma's parliamentary committee on investigating a series of apartment bombings in Russia in 1999. The blasts, which claimed the lives of more than 300 people, were officially blamed on Chechen separatist rebels, and touched off the return of Russian troops to Chechnya.

Mr. Yushenkov's committee was examining the alleged involvement of the Russian Federal Security Service in the explosions. Shortly after his death, an aide who was helping in the investigation reportedly said she was seeking asylum in the United States, fearing for her life.

Mr. Yushenkov was the second leader of the Liberal Russia party to be killed in less than a year. Last August, another co-chairman of the party, Sergei Golovlev, was murdered. No one has been convicted in that killing.