Opposition Activist Brutally Beaten to Death

An activist with the banned National Bolshevik Party was beaten to death in southeast Moscow, his face smashed almost beyond recognition, in an attack his friends believe may have been connected to his opposition politics.

Anton Stradymov, 20, was discovered savagely beaten near Vykhino metro station at about 4 a.m. on Jan. 14, National Bolshevik spokesman Alexander Averin said Tuesday.

Stradymov's fellow activists only found out about his death Monday when they were called in to identify the body, Averin said.

The victim's skull had been split in several places and his "face disfigured almost beyond recognition," the National Bolsheviks said in a statement.

Stradymov was still alive when the ambulance arrived but died shortly after arriving at the hospital, the statement said. His cell phone and other personal belongings were not stolen, indicating that robbery was not the motive, Averin said.

With their ambitious and theatrical political stunts, the National Bolsheviks have angered Kremlin loyalists and have been officially banned as an "extremist" organization.

At the time of his death, Stradymov was under investigation for the National Bolsheviks' peaceful occupation of the Foreign Ministry's reception area in July, Roman Popkov, head of the group's Moscow branch, told the Kasparov.ru web site.

Stradymov was free on condition that he not leave the city, Popkov said.

"Anton had enemies: those people whom he managed to annoy considerably during his six years as a National Bolshevik," the group's statement said.

The group conceded, however, that it had no direct evidence of who might be behind the attack.

Prosecutors have opened a murder investigation, Popkov said.

A spokeswoman for the Moscow police's southeastern district branch said she could not comment on the attack.

Prosecutors in Moscow's Kuzminki District, who are handling the investigation, could not be reached for comment.

The deadly assault on Stradymov echoed a similar attack on Yury Chervochkin, head of the National Bolshevik branch in the Moscow region town of Serpukhov.

Chervochkin was beaten to death by unidentified assailants in Serpukhov in November 2007, two days before an opposition rally in Moscow. His friends and colleagues have accused local police of being behind the attack.

No suspects have been detained in Chervochkin's death, and the investigation has been suspended indefinitely, investigators told The Moscow Times last month.

Chervochkin's fiancee, National Bolshevik activist Anna Ploskonosova, has since received political asylum in Ukraine. She was facing charges in Russia of assaulting a police officer that she claims were fabricated.