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Activist Investigating Gold Mining Attacked In Russia's Bashkortostan

Ildar Yumagulov
Ildar Yumagulov

BAIMAK, Russia -- An outspoken environmental activist who has been looking into illegal gold mining in Russia's Bashkortostan region says he was viciously beaten by unknown attackers in the town of Baimak.

Ildar Yumagulov was hospitalized with two broken legs after three men attacked him 200 meters away from a police station on April 18.

He told RFE/RL that two masked men in black clothing beat him with baseball bats and that when he managed to escape the attack, a third masked man appeared and knocked him down to allow the attack to continue.

"They beat me with baseball bats, targeting my legs, breaking them. One leg was fully smashed, surgery is planned for tomorrow," Yumagulov said, adding that the attackers did not say a word during the attack.

Bashkortostan's Interior Ministry has not commented on the attack.

According to Yumagulov, the attack is most likely linked to his latest activities on gold mining in the Urals, where, according to him and his colleagues, mining companies are violating environmental safety norms.

Yumagulov's colleague, Ilsur Irnazarov, told RFE/RL that unknown individuals were suspected of following Yumagulov and his car for several weeks before the attack.

"We're certain the attack is linked to Ildar Yumagulov's public activities and his civil stance.... It was an act of intimidation to scare Ildar and all enviromental activists of the Urals and our republic in general," Irnazarov said.

Yumagulov is known for his various activities against uncontrolled gold mining in Bashkortostan.

In recent weeks he was working on finding details of possible plans by a gold-mining company to start a mine in the Baimak district of the republic.

RFE/RL has been declared an "undesirable organization" by the Russian government.

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