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Russian opposition parliamentary candidate seriously wounded

Ahead of Russia's Dec. 2 national parliamentary elections, a candidate for an opposition party was shot and seriously wounded by an unknown gunman.

Farid Babayev, a candidate from liberal politician Grigory Yavlinsky's Yabloko party, was shot late Wednesday in the entranceway of his apartment building in Makhachkala, the capital of Dagestan, regional Interior Ministry spokesman Mark Tolchinsky said.

Babayev suffered four bullet wounds, including at least one in the head, and was on a respirator, said Kazanfar Kurbanov, the chief doctor at Dagestan 's main emergency hospital. He said Babayev's condition was serious but stable.

Dagestan, a mostly Muslim region populated by a large number of ethnic groups, is troubled by violence linked to the separatist insurgency in neighboring Chechnya, Islamic militancy and internal disputes. Police and opposition political parties reported several attacks on candidates in regional elections last March.

Babayev is Yabloko's top regional candidate in the upcoming elections to the State Duma, Russia's lower parliament house. In a campaign dominated by the Kremlin-backed United Russia party, opinion polls indicate Yabloko will fall far short of the 7 percent threshold parties must clear to win seats in the Duma.

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