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Russian anti-nuclear activist killed in attack

AFP | July 23, 2007

A Russian environmental activist died on Saturday after armed attackers raided a protesters' camp outside a nuclear facility in Siberia, officials and activists said.
One of some 20 protesters at the tent camp told AFP the attackers were "skinheads" who had used baseball bats, hammers, metal rods and an axe during the raid near the Angarsk uranium enrichment plant.

"They came at around 5:00 am (0100 GMT). They started beating people as they slept. Eight people were injured with broken ribs and head wounds. One of them died," said Igor, an activist with Autonomous Action, the main group organising the protest camp.

"They were wearing tracksuits and camouflage gear, they had shaved heads and their faces were covered up," he said in a telephone interview, declining to give his surname.

"They were shouting 'Anti-anti-fascist!' and 'For the Right!'... One of them said 'Next time, we'll kill you' as he was leaving."

A local police official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, confirmed that one person had died in the attack and said around 15 people had taken part in the attack. Local prosecutors were investigating the incident, he added.

The Angarsk plant was chosen last year as the site for a uranium enrichment centre that the Russian government wants to make available to countries seeking to develop nuclear energy.

Environmentalists have warned about the radioactive danger if the uranium enrichment capacity of the Angarsk plant is increased as planned and there is opposition to the project among local inhabitants.

A statement on the website of Autonomous Action said the camp, which was set up on July 14, had been visited several times by police, who had put pressure on the protesters to leave.

A spokesman for Russia's nuclear energy agency Rosatom expressed his condolences for the death of the activist and said Rosatom would continue to work together with non-governmental groups, the Interfax news agency reported.

Interior ministry spokesman Valery Gribakin told Echo of Moscow radio that 13 suspects in the attack had been identified.

He was later quoted by Ria Novosti news agency as saying that six suspects had been detained.

The spokesman added that investigators had not established any link between the suspected attackers and "extremist, radical groups," a term frequently used to refer to far-right radicals in Russia.

Autonomous Action identifies itself as an anarchist and anti-fascist group.

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