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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Elderly Cuban Dies in Beating

A 71-year-old Cuban national regarded as one of the best cigar rollers in Russia died after being beaten late at night in central Moscow, prosecutors said Monday.

Luis Cardenas Miranda, 71, was attacked by two teenagers near 26 Ulitsa Talalikhina at around 3 a.m. Sunday, said Sergei Marchenko, a spokesman for the City Prosecutor's Office.

Marchenko said a murder investigation had been opened and that prosecutors were considering several possible motives, including ethnic hatred.

Cardenas had just left Staraya Gavana, the Cuban restaurant at 28 Ulitsa Talalikhina where he worked, when the two teens knocked him off his feet and started pummeling his head and body, Moskovsky Komsomolets said on its web site. The newspaper, citing eyewitnesses, said the attackers appeared to be 16 or 17 years old and had closely cropped hair. Cardenas died of his injuries at the scene.

Natalya Ishchuk, a spokeswoman for Staraya Gavana, downplayed the possibility that the attack might have been racially motivated. "I don't think there was a racial motive in Luis' killing," she said. "What happened to him could as well have happened to anyone who goes out on the street late at night."

Dozens of dark-skinned foreigners have been beaten in Moscow, St. Petersburg and other cities in recent months. Several have died.

Cardenas rolled and sold cigars for 1,000 to 1,500 rubles apiece at the restaurant, according to Staraya Gavana's web site.

He started rolling cigars at age 14 in Cuba, it said. At one point, he rolled some smoked by Cuban President Fidel Castro, Moskovsky Komsomolets said.

Ishchuk said Miranda started working at Staraya Gavana in January at the restaurant's request. He made souvenir cigars and conducted classes on cigar rolling. She described Miranda as intelligent, polite, optimistic and a master at his craft. Miranda's own favorite cigar was the Hecho Upman, which he liked to smoke over a glass of white rum, the restaurant's web site said.