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Srdja Popovic, 76, champion of rights

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NEW YORK — Srdja Popovic, a Serbian lawyer and celebrated human rights advocate who pressed for reform and free speech for five decades, first under Communist rule in the former Yugoslavia and later under the strongman Slobodan Milosevic and his successors, died Oct. 29 in Belgrade. He was 76.

His death was confirmed by his family’s law firm, Popovic, Popovic, Samardzija & Popovic, which was founded by his father, Miodrag, in 1933.

Mr. Popovic’s principal work was representing commercial clients, many of them international. But in the late 1960s he began a side career defending writers, artists and political dissidents who dared to criticize Communist Yugoslavia. By the mid-1970s he had become one of the accused — and something of an international cause célèbre because of it.

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