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Duma Deputy Says Whistle-Blower Was Killed

Ilya Ponomaryov, a State Duma deputy with the opposition A Just Russia party, addressing supporters at a March of Millions rally in Moscow in June.

Opposition leader and State Duma Deputy Ilya Ponomaryov suspects that a traffic accident that killed an associate and anti-corruption whistle-blower was in fact a hit-and-run murder.

"We think that there's every chance the case of Igor Danilkin will be reclassified as a murder," his spokesman, Danila Lindele, said by telephone Thursday.

Police have opened a wrongful-death case and are looking for the driver of the black Lexus SUV that struck Danilkin at high speed near his home last week, killing him instantly.

Danilkin had accused top managers at the state-owned Moscow Grid Company, where he was head of the economic security department, of stealing large sums from the company, Lindele said.

Izvestia put the amount of money at about 2 billion rubles ($62 million) and said it was used to buy properties in Russia and abroad, as well as expensive cars and vacations.

The report, published Monday, cited an unidentified law enforcement official.

Lindele said Danilkin told him that company officials had placed a listening device in his office given to them by the Investigative Committee without a warrant.

But a company representative denied that Danilkin worked there, telling RIA-Novosti he left in September 2009.

A former investigator, Danilkin had recently been recruited to head Ponomaryov's "Stop Thief" initiative against state officials who own property and bank accounts abroad.

The practice has come under increasing public scrutiny in recent days after opposition leader Alexei Navalny accused Investigative Committee chief Alexander Bastrykin of concealing business interests and real estate in the Czech Republic and a Czech residence permit.

Bastrykin denies wrongdoing.

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