A Russian environmental activist who had protested against coal-mining projects in the Siberian region of Kemerovo says he was attacked and beaten by unidentified men in the presence of a former local lawmaker.
Sergei Sherementyev said on November 24 that he was assaulted near the town of Apanas by three individuals who were transported to the site by Pyotr Fink, a former deputy in the local legislative assembly.
According to Sherementyev, Fink proposed to him that they go to a nearby library "for a talk," but the activist refused, after which three men who were accompanying Fink attacked the activist, shouting that they "brought greetings from Gagik Suakasyan," the owner of coal mines in the area.
One of the attackers was carrying a pistol, he said.
Fink told RFE/RL he had nothing to do with the attackers and that he would sue Sherementyev for libel.
He claimed he had given the three men involved in the violence a ride because their car was broken and that he had only “witnessed the brawl.”
Sherementyev insisted that the assault is linked to his opposition to coal-mining operations near Apanas and the town of Alekseyevka. According to Sherementyev, the land where the coal mines are located is co-owned by a son of a former top official of the regional prosecutor's office.
In April, journalist Natalya Zubkova from Kiselyovsk, another town in the Kemerovo region, fled Russia for an unspecified country after she was assaulted by unknown attackers.
Zubkova said at the time that the attack was retaliation by local government officials for her articles criticizing the authorities for the "illegal widening of coal-mining territories" in the region.