Russian rights activist beaten in Moscow | Europe| News and current affairs from around the continent | DW | 01.04.2009
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Russian rights activist beaten in Moscow

A Russian human rights advocate and Kremlin critic is in hospital after taking a beating in Moscow, news sources report.

Headshot, Lev Ponomaryov

The beating late Tuesday sent Ponomaryov to the hospital

Lev Ponomaryov "was violently beaten by three individuals" near his home in Moscow late on Tuesday night, the Moscow Echo newspaper and Interfax news agency reported.

Ponomaryov, 67, heads the For Human Rights movement, and is also a member of the newly-formed Solidarity opposition party.

The Moscow Echo quoted Yevgeny Ikhlov, a For Human Rights spokesman, as saying Ponomaryov was now in hospital in a serious condition.

Colleagues suspect link to activism

His colleagues told the newspapers that the attack was linked to "his human rights activities," adding that he had also been threatened last December.

Police said an investigation was underway to try and trace the attackers. They made no comment on a possible motive for the attack, but said "it was not a robbery".

Interfax news agency reported that the assailants stole only Ponomaryov's mobile phone. His daughter, Yelena Liptser, told the agency: "It's obvious it wasn't a mugging, but we don't know the real motives for this aggression."

The head of the Moscow office of the US-based group Human Rights Watch, Tatiana Lokshina, told Interfax news agency that the attack on Ponomaryov was "abominable".

"This incident shows that the atmosphere in which Russian civil society works is unacceptable," she said.

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