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17 March 2010

CORRECTED: Russian prosecutors say priest's killer slain

r.jpg(Reuters) - Prosecutors claimed on Tuesday to have solved the high-profile slaying of a Russian Orthodox priest in Moscow, saying a man shot dead by police in the Dagestan province was carrying the gun used to kill the priest.

The November killing of Daniil Sysoyev, who had reported receiving death threats for preaching to Muslims, threatened the delicate relations between Russia's dominant Orthodox Church and its large Muslim minority.

A masked man shot Sysoyev in his church in an attack prosecutors said at the time was likely motivated by religion. Sysoyev had converted Muslims to Christianity and criticized Islam.

After Sysoyev's death, Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill praised his missionary activity and "zealous works in the field of preaching the word of God." Law enforcement authorities had been under pressure to find his killer.

On Tuesday, the investigative branch of the Prosecutor General's office said a man killed by police in an exchange of gunfire in Dagestan, a violence-plagued province in Russia's North Caucasus, was carrying the gun that killed Sysoyev.

The man had been detained -- not in connection with Sysoyev's killing -- and brought to a traffic police post in the provincial capital Mackhachkala, the Investigative Committee said in a statement.

"The detained man ... drew a grenade and threw it at the post, after which he opened fire at policemen with a pistol. He was killed as the policemen returned fire," it said.

"The investigation has incontrovertible evidence that Daniil Sysoyev was killed with precisely this gun."

The slain gunman was identified as Beksultan Karybekov, a native of mostly Muslim Kyrgyzstan.

The statement did not clarify how he had managed to hide the weapons after being detained, and there was no way to independently confirm the account.

Interfax news agency quoted the head of Moscow's investigative department, Anatoly Bagmet, as saying Sysoyev's killing "is solved."

14:25 Posted in RUSSIA | Permalink | Comments (0) |  Facebook |

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