An anti-war activist has died in police custody in southern Russia after receiving death threats from law enforcement officials, his lawyer told the OVD-Info human rights monitor late Wednesday.
Anatoly Berezikov, 40, was detained last month on suspicion of hanging pro-Ukrainian leaflets in the city of Rostov-on-Don, some 60 kilometers south of eastern Ukraine’s Donetsk region.
The leaflets advertised an intelligence hotline for Russian servicemen seeking to surrender to the Ukrainian armed forces.
Berezikov’s lawyer Irina Gak said she witnessed medical personnel loading the activist’s body into a vehicle Wednesday while she was trying to gain access to him.
Gak said the guards at the detention center where Berezikov was held had told her he was not in the facility at the time.
An on-duty officer later told OVD-Info that Berezikov had “committed suicide.”
Gak said Berezikov had faced intimidation, threats and violence from law enforcement officials during his detention.
The lawyer said she noticed taser marks on Berezikov’s body on the eve of his death.
Authorities were preparing to charge Berezikov with treason, according to the human rights project Perviy Otdel.
It said Berezikov’s three consecutive detentions after serving administrative sentences on misdemeanor charges fit a pattern that “often [precedes] the initiation of treason cases.”