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Siberian Acting Mayor Gunned Down

July 21, 1999

MOSCOW (AP) _ The acting mayor of a Siberian town was shot and killed Wednesday as he left home for work, Russian media reports said. One report said he was slain en route to a meeting with a journalist.

Genrikh Epp, the acting mayor of Kyzyl in southern Siberia, was driving out of his country cottage when he came under attack, the ITAR-Tass news agency reported. His wife was closing the driveway gate behind him and witnessed the killing.

As Epp departed, a bomb exploded under his car, forcing it to stop, his wife said. An unidentified gunman ran up to the vehicle and fired several shots, killing Epp, she said.

Police were searching for the killer but made no immediate arrests. There was no information on a possible motive for the attack.

Epp, a liberal politician and deputy mayor, was filling in for his boss, who was on leave, ITAR-Tass reported.

NTV television reported Epp was headed to a meeting with a journalist investigating alleged abuses in the regional administration.

In Moscow, Irina Khakamada, a leader of the liberal Right Cause movement to which Epp belonged, said the killing was politically motivated.

``This crime is evidently connected with the struggle Genrikh Epp led against certain criminal structures,″ Khakamada told ORT television. ``We are sure that this is a political murder.″

She said Right Cause would conduct its own investigation into the killing.

A number of Russian politicians in small towns have been killed in recent years as a result of feuds with local organized crime groups.

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