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Daghestan: Court Upholds Guilty Verdict Against Babitsky

Moscow, 13 December 2000 (RFE/RL) - An appeals court in the Russian republic of Daghestan has upheld a guilty verdict against Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty correspondent Andrei Babitsky, convicted two months ago for using a false passport. Babitsky's lawyers today said in an appeal of the conviction that the Kremlin had deliberately pressed charges because it was angry at Babitsky's frontline coverage of the brutal Russian clampdown in the separatist republic of Chechnya.

Babitsky refused to take advantage of a general amnesty for small crimes and continues to protest his innocence. He says that Russian authorities turned him over to unknown men in January in what Russians said was a trade for Russian prisoners, and that his new captors confiscated his papers, forcing him to use the false passport.

The case against Babitsky is seen as a test of free speech in Russia.

(For more information on this case and RFE/RL's reaction to the latest news, see Dine Criticizes Court's Upholding Of Babitsky Conviction)