A grisly end: Russian politician found in barrel of cement

British politicians may think they have a tough life, facing suspicion from voters and scorn from the media, but at least none of them have ever met the terrible fate of Mikhail Pakhomov.

The 36-year-old city legislator was found encased in a rusty metal barrel filled with cement in a private basement garage in Lipetsk yesterday, after going missing last week.

Pakhomov, a construction tycoon who had once been viewed as a promising figure in Vladimir Putin's dominant United Russia party, was tortured before being killed over unpaid debts amounting to $80 million, police said.

His brutal death has triggered shock in the local community, which compared the incident with those of post-Soviet Russia in the 1990s.

"A similar event has never happened with a VIP in our city," news site Gorod48 was quoted as saying by the New York Times.

"Even in the 'evil 90s' nobody disappeared: businessmen were killed right where they lived or worked, and bandits from competing groups shot or blew each other up wherever they happened to be."

Police found Pakhomov's body after questioning people led them to the body. Items belonging to the legislator were found last Thursday in a car which investigators said he had been dragged from by three men.

Yevgeny Kharitonov, 40, a former Moscow Region housing utilities official, has been arrested in connection with the murder, the RIA Novosti news agency reported.

Pakhomov had been a member of United Russia since 2003.

Lipetsk, which has a population of 500,000, is an industrial city located 430 miles south of Moscow.