Yury Schmidt, the head lawyer of former Yukos owner Mikhail Khodorkovsky's defense team and a renowned human rights activist, died in St. Petersburg on Saturday at age 76 after a long fight with cancer.
Schmidt headed Khodorkovsky's defense team since April 2004, and he continued working on the case even after he fell ill with cancer, Novaya Gazeta reported.
In comments from a 2011 interview posted on Khodorkovsky's website, Schmidt said: "I told Mikhail Borisovich [Khodorkovsky] that I'm not used to dying with an unfulfilled sense of duty, and I thanked him for supporting me. He really does support me. I want to be here to see his release."
Schmidt received numerous awards throughout his career, including an award for defending the rights of an individual from Human Rights Watch, and a Femida award, one of the most renowned legal prizes in Russia.