Russian anti-road campaign journalist dead at 55

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Mikhail Beketov, a Russian journalist who suffered brain damage and lost a leg after a brutal assault that followed his campaign against a road project outside Moscow, died yesterday.

His lawyer, Stalina Gurevitch, said Mr Beketov, 55, died in hospital after choking on food.

He had been part of a group fighting to stop a road being built through the Khimki forest near Moscow. He was among the first to raise the alarm about the destruction of the forest and suspicions that local officials were profiting. He refused to back down, even after his dog was left dead on his doorstep and his car set on fire.

Several people with high-profile political connections reportedly stood to profit, such as billionaire Arkady Rotenberg, who once taught judo to president Vladimir Putin.

In 2008, Mr Beketov was beaten so viciously he was in a coma for several months. His attackers were never identified.

Several other journalists and environmentalists who campaigned against the project have been attacked.