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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Yabloko Party Activist Slain In Republic of Kalmykia

A journalist and political activist has been killed in Russia's southern autonomous republic of Kalmykia, a local official said Tuesday.

Larisa Yudina, co-chairwoman of the local branch of Russia's liberal Yabloko party, was found dead Monday evening, and police have launched a criminal investigation, a spokeswoman for Kalmykia's Interior Ministry said by telephone.

"We are working on a number of possible versions. A large circle of people are under suspicion, but nobody has been arrested yet," she said.

Yudina, 53, was also the editor of the local liberal opposition newspaper Sovietskaya Kalmykia Today.

Interfax news agency quoted Yabloko deputy leader Sergei Ivanenko as saying in Moscow that his party suspected a political motive for Yudina's death. Her body bore the marks of a violent attack.

Russia's State Duma, the lower house of parliament, has backed Yabloko's request that federal prosecutors investigate the case. Russian media said Yudina had exposed official corruption in Kalmykia, a republic by the Caspian Sea best known for its youthful millionaire president, Kirsan Ilyumzhinov.

Interfax said 150 people had blocked a central street in Elista, which is the capital of Kalmykia, demanding Monday that the authorities spare no effort to find Yudina's killers.

Human rights activists, including the global press watchdog Reporters sans Fronti?res, have often expressed concern about the dangers facing journalists in the former Soviet Union, especially those unmasking corruption in business and politics.