Violence stalks the candidates in Russian poll

In any advanced and stable democracy, Grigory Beryozkin's story would probably have been dismissed as a cheap attempt to gain publicity before Sunday's elections. But in Russia, where bloodshed and politics go hand in hand, it is depressingly plausible.

Mr Beryozkin, who is running for a seat in Moscow, claims to have been approached by a man offering to kill or maim his political opponents. The man had a price list: a car "crash" would set a client back $7,000 (pounds 4,500); bomb attacks could be arranged for only $15,000.

Given recent events, it is possible the would-be assassin, or others of his ilk, has picked up some business. For the elections to the State Duma, or lower house, are spawning a list of incidents - shootings, bombings, mysterious accidents - that would more commonly be associated with a remote, tinpot dictatorship.

At the weekend, Vitaly Savitsky, who led the Christians of Russia faction, became the third candidate to die on the campaign trail in less than three weeks. His chauffeur-driven car collided with a Mercedes in St Petersburg when he was returning from a radio interview. Police said it was an accident, typical of the icy winter conditions in the northern city; his colleagues said it was murder.

On Monday, thousands of people turned out for a funeral in the Ural mountains for Mikhail Lezhrev, who was mysteriously shot to death outside his home in Chelyabinsk, where he was a candidate for the government-backed Our Home Is Russia party. Nor has there yet been any conclusive explanation why someone pumped a bullet into the head of Sergei Markidonov, 34, a deputy campaigning for re-election, while he was in a hotel room in the Siberian city of Petrov-Zabaikalsky on 26 November.

There have been other puzzling incidents. A liberal parliamentarian, Anatoly Shabad, of the Russia's Choice faction, is in hospital for injuries after being run over by a car in Moscow while he was crossing the street. A week ago a powerful explosion wrecked the office of an extreme right- wing deputy inside the Russian parliament building, without causing serious injuries. Police in the Caucasus are investigating an incident in which an independent candidate's car ended up being blasted by bullets.

It will be a while before Russians know which of these incidents were the result of bad luck and which were caused by mafia feuding, political skulduggery, or other factors. But they are enough to spur the Russian Interior Ministry into action: it has pledged to flood the streets with police to prevent further bloodshed before the elections.

n A few dozen oil workers and their families in two villages in Russia's far north began a hunger strike yesterday to demand decent living conditions and pay. In the Moscow region, two dozen coal miners continued an underground hunger strike for a fifth day, with similar demands.

Suggested Topics
News
peopleFrankie Boyle responds to referendum result in characteristically offensive style
Arts and Entertainment
'New Tricks' star Dennis Waterman is departing from the show after he completes filming on two more episodes
tvHe is only remaining member of original cast
Arts and Entertainment
tvHighs and lows of the cast's careers since 2004
Sport
Harry Redknapp. Mark Hughes and Ryan Shawcross
footballNews and updates as Queens Park Rangers host the Potters
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
New Articles
i100... with this review
Voices
Holly's review of Peterborough's Pizza Express quickly went viral on social media
New Articles
i100
Arts and Entertainment
musicHow female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Arts and Entertainment
musicBiographer Hunter Davies has collected nearly a hundred original manuscripts
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Cover Supervisor

£75 - £90 per day + negotiable: Randstad Education Group: Are you a cover supe...

Marketing Manager - Leicestershire - £35,000

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager (CIM, B2B, MS Offi...

Marketing Executive (B2B and B2C) - Rugby, Warwickshire

£22000 - £25000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A highly successful organisation wit...

SEN Coordinator + Teacher (SENCO)

£1 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Job Purpose To work closely with the he...

Day In a Page

Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam