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Witness Against Russian Rights Activist Found Dead

A key witness in the case against a human rights activist in the central Russian city of Yekaterinburg was found hanged in his cell last week, RFE/RL's Russian Service reports.

The press office of Russia's Federal Corrections Service announced on June 23 that Yevgeny Litvinov apparently committed suicide on June 12.

Litvinov, who was being held on unrelated charges, was a key witness in the case against local rights activist Aleksey Sokolov, who is accused of burglary.

Sokolov says the charge is politically motivated.

Sokolov's relatives told RFE/RL the suicide of a key witness in the case is proof the charges against Sokolov were fabricated.

Sverdlovsk Oblast ombudswoman Tatyana Merzlyakova told RFE/RL it is too early to draw conclusions regarding Litvinov's death and its possible connection with the Sokolov case. adding that, in any case, officials of the detention center are responsible for Litvinov's death while in their custody.