Key Communist MP dies of a stroke in Russia: party

MOSCOW, March 20, 2011 (AFP) - Russia's longserving Communist parliament member Viktor Ilyukhin has died suddenly, his party said Sunday, calling for an independent investigation into his death.

Ilyukhin, 62, was one of the longest serving deputies in the Russian Duma, having been its member since 1993. A trained lawyer, he was a key figure in the Communist party.

The deputy felt ill on Saturday evening and died before the ambulance arrived, the Communist party said on its website. The pronounced cause of death was acute heart failure, it said.

Party officials on Sunday said they found Ilyukhin's death "strange" since had appeared healthy and never complained of heart problems. "We consider his sudden passing strange," party secretary Sergei Obukhov was quoted as saying by Interfax.

"We will insist on a check (on the cause of death) by a private medical clinic," said Obukhov.

Prior his election to the Duma Ilyukhin worked for the Soviet prosecutor's office, where in 1991 he launched a criminal case against Soviet president Mikhail Gorbachev accusing him of high treason. He was dimissed from his job two days later.

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