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Russia rights commissioner concerned over attacks on activists

[JURIST] Human rights activists in Russia are being attacked with greater frequency, Russian Human Rights Commissioner Vladimir Lukin [official profile] said Wednesday in an interview with Vesti television [media website, in Russian]. Lukin was responding [Interfax report] to the recent beating [AI press release] of Lev Ponomarev, leader of advocacy group For Human Rights. Lukin said that even though it wasn't clear whether the attack was politically motivated, it tied into a theme of political intolerance in the country.

In January, prominent Russian human rights lawyer Stanislav Markelov was shot dead [JURIST report] by a masked gunman in Moscow. In February, Russian human rights group SOVA Center [advocacy website] announced the number of Russian hate crimes rose slightly [JURIST report] in 2008 over 2007 levels, with 97 people killed and 525 wounded. In May, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev [official profile] stressed the importance of rights and freedoms [JURIST report] at the outset of his inauguration address [text; recorded video, in Russian].

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