MOSCOW - Russian lawmakers demanded concrete answers from the government on Friday about what it is doing to combat crime as they mourned the killing of another one of their colleagues, shot to death a day earlier outside his Moscow apartment.
"Today of course it is important to find the killers and bring them to justice ... but it is even more important to put forward the question: is society today capable of getting the better of crime, and is the Russian government defending its citizens," said Gennady Gudkov, a member of the parliamentary Committee on Security.
Sergei Yushenkov, a co-chairman of the Liberal Russia party, was gunned down Thursday night after he got out of his car at the entrance to his apartment building. Hours earlier, he had enthusiastically announced that his fledgling political party would take part in December parliamentary elections.
Police called Yushenkov's death a contract hit. Yushenkov's colleagues in Russia's lower house of parliament, who opened their session Friday with a moment of silence, said they suspected a political motive.
Yushenkov was the second leader of Liberal Russia to die in less than a year; another co-chairman, Vladimir Golovlyov, was shot and killed in August.
Although Yushenkov said at the time that Golovlyov's murder was politically motivated, many believed it was connected with his alleged involvement in privatization fraud in the metals industry, which is believed to be riddled with criminals.
In contrast, none have speculated about Yushenkov's possible involvement in corruption or crime: He was reputed to be absolutely uninterested in business.
Yet some media suggested that his killing could have been tied with the financing of his party, which had been launched with the promise of money from exiled tycoon Boris Berezovsky. Berezovsky was later pushed out of the party in a dispute over his overtures to the Communists.
Prosecutors said they had no suspects in Yushenkov's killing Friday, Russian news agencies reported.
Yushenkov was the eighth Russian legislator to be murdered since the 1991 Soviet collapse, according to Russian media. Most were believed to contract killings, and none of them have been solved.
"We must demand an honest answer from the authorities: What do you need today to fight crime, even street crime, even banditry, to say nothing of corruption and organized crime, to save people from hooligans?," liberal lawmaker Alexander Gurov said.
"Here's what I have to say as a professional: It's painful, shameful and frightening to live in our country," said Gurov, a former police investigator and expert on the Russian mafia who is now a member of the liberal Yabloko movement's faction in the State Duma.
The legislature summoned Nikolai Patrushev, director of the Federal Security Service, Interior Minister Boris Gryzlov and Prosecutor-General Valdimir Ustinov to take part in discussions on Wednesday about how to combat crime.
Also on Friday, Russia's TVS reported that the first deputy director of the northern Russian television station, North-Western Broadcasting, was shot to death outside his office Friday evening in an apparent contract hit. Dmitry Shvets had worked at the station for nine years and had been a well-known businessman in Murmansk, about 1,450 km (906 miles) north of Moscow, TVS reported.
It reported that the station's journalists had recently received threats.