MOSCOW (Reuters) - The mayor of a small city near Moscow was shot dead Monday in what appeared to be a contract killing, investigators said, soon after he aired corruption allegations against local officials and businessmen.
Yevgeny Dushko, the mayor of Sergiyev Posad, was shot twice as he left his home for work, the Russian state Investigative Committee said on its website.
"The killing can be linked to the official's work as well as to his previous entrepreneurial activity. The way the crime was committed also suggests it was a contract killing," added the committee, a law enforcement agency independent of the police.
Sergiyev Posad, a town of about 100,000 people roughly 50 km (31 miles) north of Moscow, holds one of Russia's biggest Orthodox monasteries and is a popular tourist destination.
The local administration released a statement saying Dushko had been trying to clean up the local communal services sector.
Media reports said Dushko had accused several local officials and businessmen of corruption on a local television channel about a month before his murder. A video on Youtube showed him berating several people for what he called corrupt practices.
Those accused by Dushko denied the accusations and one man said the allegation was a "crude lie aimed at poorly informed people," according to a video of a press conference on Youtube.
Anti-corruption watchdog Transparency International has rated Russia as the world's most corrupt major economy, ranking it 154th out of 178 nations in its corruption perceptions index last year, putting it on a par with Cambodia, Kenya and Laos.
Russian President Dmitry Medvedev recently said corruption remained rampant at a municipal level.
(Writing by Gleb Bryanski; Editing by Andrew Heavens)