MOSCOW -- A Russian legislator who had claimed that a mafia assassin tried to kill him last spring was found shot to death yesterday in a wooded area on the outskirts of the capital, making him the third deputy to be murdered here this year, Russian police said.
A day after Sergei Skorochkin was abducted from a suburban restaurant by four men posing as police, his handcuffed body was discovered in the woods during a police search. He had been killed with single bullet in the back of the head.
Mr. Skorochkin recently returned to Russia from London, where he had gone into hiding after narrowly escaping an apparent hit attempt in May. During that attack, Mr. Skorochkin shot back, killing his attacker and a woman bystander. An official investigation recently concluded that the shootings were self-defense.
It appears that Mr. Skorochkin's business ties, not his political ones, attracted the interest of Russia's voracious organized crime network. Dozens of Russia's newly rich bankers and businessmen have been killed by mafia groups seeking a cut from the country's new private sector. Few businessmen travel without a well-armed entourage.
Another murdered deputy, Alexander Aidzerdzis, died after initiating a campaign against organized crime in his newspaper. He was gunned down recently outside his home in suburban Moscow. A Communist Party deputy, Valentin Martemyanov, died after a beating during an apparent robbery near his Moscow home.
Mr. Skorochkin, 33, who was aligned with the liberal reformist faction, ran a successful distillery called Raduga in his suburban district of Zaraisk. On his return to Moscow, he claimed that organized crime again would try to kill him because he continued to rebuff demands for payoffs.
During a recent news conference in which he predicted another assassination attempt, Mr. Skorochkin said he had made plans to track down his killers after his death.
"The money is ready, if, God forbid, anything happens to me," he said.