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Organizer Of Protests Against Russian Pension Reforms Severely Beaten

KEMEROVO, Russia – A Russian activist who helped organize protests against plans to raise the retirement age has been severely beaten by unknown attackers.

Valery Kazantsev was assaulted in the hall of his apartment block in the Siberian city of Kemerovo at 7 a.m. on January 1 when he was returning home after celebrating New Year's, a coordinator of the opposition Protesting Kuzbass movement told RFE/RL.

The coordinator, Lev Gyammer, quoted the two assailants as calling Kazantsev a “pedophile" and warning the activist that the attack was "just a warning."

An article published in a local government-controlled newspaper had earlier called Kazantsev a pedophile, according to Gyammer.

The attack was most likely ordered by local authorities, he also said.

The highly unpopular plan to raise the retirement age by five years triggered angry protests across Russia last year.

Kazantsev, a member of the unregistered Libertarian Party of Russia, was one of the organizers of the protest rallies in Kemerovo.