Yabloko Candidate in Coma After Shooting in Dagestan

Unidentified gunmen shot and seriously wounded a candidate on the liberal Yabloko party's ticket in Dagestan in the Dec. 2 State Duma elections, police and a doctor in the violence-plagued republic said Thursday.

Farid Babayev was shot late Wednesday in the entrance of his apartment building in Makhachkala, regional Interior Ministry spokesman Mark Tolchinsky said. He suffered four bullet wounds, including at least one in the head, and was on a respirator, said Kazanfar Kurbanov, the chief doctor at Dagestan's main emergency hospital.

Babayev, who leads Yabloko's regional ticket in Dagestan, was in a coma Thursday, fellow Yabloko candidate Ruslan Salakhbekov told Interfax.

Dagestan is troubled by violence linked to the separatist insurgency in neighboring Chechnya, Islamic militancy and internal disputes. Police and opposition parties reported several attacks on candidates in regional elections there in March.

Opinion polls indicate that Yabloko will fall far short of the 7 percent threshold parties must clear to enter the Duma.

Yabloko has complained that its candidates are being targeted by authorities. Ivan Bolshakov, who is running on the party's Moscow ticket, was detained by police Tuesday and questioned over his role in an altercation with police several months ago, the party said.

AP, MT