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Russian Lawyer's Car Torched In Reprisal For Human Rights Work, Watchdog Says

The car of a Russian human rights lawyer who is involved in cases against law enforcement agencies has been set on fire, a rights watchdog reports.

Lyudmila Aleksandrova, whose car was set on fire on November 4 near her house in the southern city of Krasnodar, is representing the only defense witness in the case of human rights activist Mikhail Benyash, Dublin-based Front Line Defenders said in a statement.

Benyash was arrested on September 9 in Krasnodar, where he went to provide legal assistance to participants in an unsanctioned protest against Russia's pension reform, it said. Benyash was beaten up by police and was sentenced for administrative offenses, and is currently facing allegations in two criminal cases.

Aleksandrova’s client witnessed the ill-treatment of Benyash by police officers.

Front Line Defenders said it believes that the arson attack was in a reprisal for Aleksandrova's legal work in criminal and administrative cases against law enforcement agencies.

The group said Aleksandrova was also subjected to harassment between 2008 and 2016, and her license was withdrawn at one point following a criminal conviction for slander in connection to a complaint she sent to Russian President Vladimir Putin about police violence.

"Front Line Defenders is seriously concerned about the arson attack against the human rights defender Lyudmila Aleksandrova," the group said.

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