Nikolai Andrushchenko, once a city councilor, became a thorn in the side of local politicians.
Before his death, Nikolai Andrushchenko, a 73-year-old journalist at the Novy Peterburg newspaper, had been in a medically induced coma during the six weeks since he was badly beaten on March 9.
The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) noted that Andrushchenko had been arrested and imprisoned in 2007 on charges of defamation and obstruction of justice after he reported on a murder investigation and trial in St. Petersburg. Investigators have not contacted the newspaper, Usov said.
Andrushchenko's colleagues and his lawyer say he underwent brain surgery after the attack and initially had been connected to a ventilator, but later was able to breathe on his own.
The newspaper's chief editor Denis Usov told the daily RBC that Andrushchenko's attackers demanded some documents from him shortly before he was found on the street with head injuries, according to Crimerussia.com.
At the time Mr Andrushchenko's colleagues said they thought his detention was due to Novy Peterburg's critical coverage of local authorities ahead of parliamentary elections. A week later, the biggest local publishing house, Gazetny Kompleks, said it was overloaded and refused to print the paper's issue; and another publishing house refused to print the edition carrying an article by opposition leader Garry Kasparov on its front page.
In 2009, a court in St. Petersburg found him guilty of libel and extremism and fined him.