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The 'Godfather' of Russian Lawyers Dies Aged 90

Lawyer Semyon Ariya, an attorney known for his legal representation of several major public figures and nicknamed the "godfather" of the Soviet and Russian legal profession, has died following an illness at age 90.

"Semyon fell ill, but despite this he continued to work," the vice president of the Moscow Region Bar Association, Yury Borovkov, said Monday. "A few days ago, his condition worsened and he was admitted to intensive care."

Borovkov said Ariya died on Sunday from his illness, but did not specify what the sickness was or the time and location of Ariya's death.

Over the course of his 65-year legal career, Ariya defended several prominent Russian figures, including self-exiled Russian oligarch Boris Berezovsky and Nobel-Prize-winning human rights activist and dissident Andrei Sakharov. He also worked as an attorney for numerous Soviet political dissidents in the 1960s and 70s.

Ariya, a World War II veteran, was awarded the Order of Honor and several other medals for his service during the war.

The Moscow legal community has established a medal in Ariya's honor, awarded every three years for outstanding contributions in enhancing the prestige of the legal profession and service to Russia.

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