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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Police Searching for Motive In Attack on City Candidate

Investigators were still struggling Monday to name a motive behind the powerful explosion last week that severely wounded vice-mayoral candidate and southern district municipal prefect Valery Shantsev, who remained in serious condition in a Moscow hospital.

"As our investigators say, the fewer the facts, the more the versions," said Sergei Bogdanov, spokesman for the Moscow department of the Federal Security Service, which is conducting the official investigation into the explosion Friday that left Shantsev with third- and fourth-degree burns over 50 percent of his body.

A spokesman for the Moscow's Main Medical Directorate said Monday that Shantsev's vital signs were stable and that he had regained consciousness.

In contrast to city officials who have persistently termed the attack "political terrorism," the Moscow FSB has not yet excluded possible links between the explosion and Shantsev's activities as prefect and as deputy chairman of the Dinamo hockey club, said Bogdanov.

But the city prefers to follow a different lead. In an interview with Interfax, Vasily Kuptsov, head of the Moscow police's criminal investigation department, said that investigators had already excluded "all versions except that of political terror." An official terrorism investigation has been launched into the attack, Kuptsov added.

Shantsev received 141 shrapnel wounds in addition to burns when a radio-operated explosive device went off early Friday morning in an urn located outside the entranceway to his apartment building on Olympiisky Prospekt in downtown Moscow. An aide and passerby were also injured in the blast.

Political tensions went up another notch Saturday with the discovery of another explosive device, this time on Moscow's outer ring road just hours before Luzhkov was scheduled to visit workers rebuilding the thoroughfare. The device, made up of about 100 grams of TNT, was found underneath a parked Zhiguli and detonated by bomb specialists, Bogdanov added. Information was not immediately available on whether Luzhkov had planned to visit the area near the Zhiguli.

Speaking with reporters Saturday, Luzhkov repeated his charges that the explosion was planned by "political bandits" to undermine the June 16 mayoral and presidential elections. Although the law does not specify, Shantsev's death would probably have resulted in Luzhkov withdrawing his candidacy, electoral commission officials have said.