Police Hunt Deputy's Shooters

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Police said Thursday that they are chasing down leads pointing to a business dispute as the apparent motive behind an attack on a Unity party lawmaker.

State Duma Deputy Bashir Kodzoyev, who was shot three times Wednesday, is in critical but stable condition after undergoing surgery Thursday, Interfax reported.

Two unidentified attackers opened fire on Kodzoyev's car from the third floor of a building on Zvonarsky Pereulok, near the Sandunovsky Baths. His driver died of gunshot wounds at the scene.

Kodzoyev was shot in the back, chest and right arm, but no vital organs were hit.

He was taken to the Sklifosovsky Hospital, where he has regained consciousness, Interfax said.

The country's top police officer, Interior Minister Vladimir Rushailo, said his investigators believe Kodzoyev was not attacked for his work as a lawmaker, Interfax reported.

Viktor Ilyukhin, a member of the Duma's security committee, said he has no doubt that Kodzoyev's business activities were to blame.

"As a deputy, he was never really interested in politics and continued to focus on business," said Ilyukhin.

"Questions of Kodzoyev's business integrity go back to when he was in Irkutsk," he added.

Kodzoyev serves as deputy chairman of a Duma committee dealing with problems in Far North regions including Irkutsk, where Kodzoyev's family settled in the mid-1980s and where he has had several brushes with the law.

In 1993, Irkutsk's branch of the Interior Ministry accused Kodzoyev and his brother Murad of not paying back a 300 million-ruble loan to Sberbank, said Sergei Radin, head of the Irkutsk branch's investigative team.

The loan had been granted to a company owned by Murad Kodzoyev, Radin said by telephone from Irkutsk.

Later that year a fire ravaged the company's headquarters, killing its chief accountant and destroying financial documents. The ministry's investigation was then closed due to lack of evidence.

In 1995 Kodzoyev was detained in a probe of whether he and his brother had borrowed and kept several billion rubles, Kommersant reported Thursday.

Radin said that sum was "greatly exaggerated," but would not disclose further details.

He added, though, that he doubts the attack Wednesday was related to either investigation.

"I can tell you with certainty that Bashir Kodzoyev has never been convicted. He has not been on our radar for the past five to six years," he said.

Kommersant reported that investigators are also examining whether the Kodzoyev family's involvement in the Ossetian-Ingush conflict played any role in the attack.

An ethnic Ingush, Kodzoyev and his brothers have actively supported their fellow countrymen during the conflict, which erupted in the early 1990s when a North Ossetia district forced out Ingush residents.