Politician beaten after soldier burials report

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iol news pic Russian soldiers parade AP Russian soldiers dressed in Red Army World War II uniforms prepare to parade in Red Square in front of a backdrop of St. Basil Cathedral in Moscow, Russia. (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko)

Moscow - A Russian politician whose newspaper reported mysterious funerals of soldiers from the Pskov region has been assaulted and badly beaten in an “act of political revenge”, his party said on Saturday.

The report has raised awkward questions for the Kremlin, which NATO and western governments accuse of sending troops into eastern Ukraine in support of pro-Russian separatists.

Some people in the Pskov region believe local soldiers were killed fighting in Ukraine, contradicting the government's claim that Russian forces are not involved.

Lev Shlosberg, a parliamentarian from the liberal Yabloko party, was attacked on Friday evening close to his home, Yabloko said in a statement. It said he was in hospital with serious injuries but his life was not in danger.

Shlosberg's local newspaper Pskovskaya Guberniya published the investigation into funerals of soldiers from a local paratroop division last week.

“Most probably, people are trying to silence Shlosberg - people who according to their 'professional duty' at first carried out the illegal recruitment of the soldiers, and then had to conceal the death of the Pskov paratroopers on the territory of Ukraine,” the Yabloko statement said.

When a Reuters reporter went on Wednesday to the cemetery where the soldiers were allegedly buried, he was stopped from entering and threatened by two young men with shaven heads.

Shlosberg told Reuters last week that relatives of missing men were too frightened to talk publicly, cowed by a code of silence around the airborne troops.

A Kremlin spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, has said the relevant authorities would look into reports about the burials.

“But at the same time this needs painstaking checking before any conclusions can be drawn,” he told reporters.


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