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Russian sets fire to herself facing Putin offices


A Russian woman set herself on fire in front of the government building on Sunday and was hospitalised with serious burns, news reports cited police sources as saying.

The woman approached the Moscow White House, which is the formal seat of Prime Minister Vladimir Putin and the government, and poured petrol over herself before lighting a match, news agencies said.

The lifenews.ru website identified the woman as Vera Smolina, a 53-year-old resident of the central Samara region, although Interfax said she was a resident of the Ural Mountains city of Nizhny Tagil.

"She made no demands before attempting self-immolation," a security source told Interfax. "She was not carrying any posters, so we do not know why she did this."

Russia has been hit by protests against Putin since disputed December parliamentary elections in which the ruling party won a narrow majority despite allegations of fraud.

Putin is the overwhelming favourite to win a third term as president in March 4 elections after heading the Kremlin in 2000-2008. He has agreed to swap jobs with incumbent President Dmitry Medvedev.