Russian mayor suspected of murder: reports

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The mayor of the central Russian city of Engels has been arrested on suspicion of murder, local media reported Sunday, citing the police.

Engels administration chief Mikhail Lysenko was one of more than a dozen people arrested in a local murder investigation that was initially assumed several years ago, the region's SarInform news agency reported.

Lysenko is believed to have been a top member of a local organized crime gang that has been operating in the region since the 1990s, it quoted a police spokesman as saying.

Police were investigating if other local authorities were also involved in the group, the RIA Novosti news agency reported, with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev personally briefed about the situation.

The arrests came in the same month as the country learned about the slaying of 12 people by a crime gang that operated with apparent impunity in the southern Russian region of Krasnodar.

Police are investigating if local authorities were part of the gang as well, as the extent of the complicity between the government and the mafia grows into a increasingly sensitive political issue.

Engels and its sister city of Saratov opposite the Volga River are situated about 850 kilometers (525 miles) southeast of Moscow.

© 2010 AFP

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