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Amnesty Urges Russia To Free 'Assaulted, Arbitrarily Detained' Lawyer


Lawyer Mikhail Benyash said police "beat and violently choked" him both in the vehicle and at the police station where he was taken, causing injuries and bruises.

Amnesty International has urged Russia to immediately free a lawyer who was detained during a recent rally against pension reform and later jailed on "politically motivated" charges.

Mikhail Benyash was among dozens of people "arbitrarily" detained during a peaceful protest in the southwestern city of Krasnodar on September 9, the London-based human rights watchdog said on September 12.

Benyash was pushed and shoved into a car by police officers wearing civilian clothes, a statement said.

It quoted the lawyer as saying the officers "beat and violently choked" him both in the vehicle and at the police station where he was taken, causing injuries and bruises.

On September 11, a local court convicted Benyash of "resisting the police's legitimate orders" and sentenced him to 14 days in jail.

Amnesty said it believed Benyash was targeted in connection with his human rights work to provide legal assistance to victims of police abuse during the rally.

"He is a prisoner of conscience and must be immediately and unconditionally released," the group said.

More than 1,000 people were detained across Russia on September 9 as anti-Kremlin demonstrators took to the streets to protests against the government's plan to raise the retirement age.

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