- The Washington Times - Wednesday, March 25, 2009

MOSCOW (AP) - The mayor of a city in northwestern Russia was shot dead in his office Wednesday, the nation’s top investigative body said. The assailant was reportedly a local businessman.

The Investigative Committee said an unidentified gunman killed Kirovsk mayor Ilya Kelmanzon and a local utilities chief who was in Kelmanzon’s office, then shot himself dead. The committee wouldn’t comment on a possible motive, saying an official probe has been launched.

Alexander Karandyshev, a spokesman for the local branch of Russia’s Investigative Committee, said on Rossiya state television the assailant was a local businessman.

The ITAR-Tass news agency identified the businessman as Ivan Ankushev, and said he killed the mayor and the utilities chief following a commercial argument. It said Kelmanzon allegedly had issued an unlawful order to end the businessman’s lease of a local store.

Murmansk is Russia’s main port on the Barents Sea. The Murmansk region has seen mounting social discontent amid the country’s financial crisis. President Dmitry Medvedev dismissed the Murmansk regional governor last Saturday.

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