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Russian Blogger Says He Was Beaten Upon Arrival In Kemerovo

Russian opposition blogger Mikhail Svetov (file photo)

Russian opposition blogger Mikhail Svetov says he was beaten and sent back to Moscow upon his arrival at the airport in Kemerovo, a Siberian city where at least 64 people were killed in a shopping-mall fire last month.

In a video posted on his Facebook account on April 1, Svetov said that a group of some 15 people in civilian clothes dragged him to a restricted airport-staff area, where they seized his documents and mobile phone.

“They tore off my shirt, they beat me,” Svetov said, showing his ripped shirt. The blogger said he was kept for some 40 minutes before being forcibly placed on the next flight back to Moscow.

Svetov said the attackers "introduced themselves as coal miners, but they acted in full coordination with the airport staff."

On March 29, Svetov announced on Facebook that he was coming to Kemerovo on April 1 to give a lecture on "Why You Should Not Trust The Government."

On social-media posts in recent days, Svetov blamed Kemerovo’s authorities for the March 25 fire at the Zimnyaya Vishnya (Winter Cherry) shopping mall where many eyewitnesses said the fire doors were blocked and fire-safety devices, such as alarms and sprinklers didn’t work, leading to a high number of casualties.

The blogger is a member a small opposition group, the Libertarian Party of Russia.