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RFE/RL Reports: What's the Price of Free Speech?


Russia -- Opposition leader Sergei Udaltsov (R) gestures as he is escorted from his apartment after being detained in Moscow, 17oct2012

Russia -- Opposition leader Sergei Udaltsov (R) gestures as he is escorted from his apartment after being detained in Moscow, 17oct2012

What's the price of free speech?

# In Russia, Left Front movement leader Sergei Udaltsov and his aide Konstantin Lebedev have been formally charged with plotting to organize mass riots. Both could be jailed for up to 10 years after being the subject of a film that purportedly shows them plotting to launch large-scale disturbances aimed at toppling President Vladimir Putin. Brian Whitmore's The Power Vertical blog notes of the state-controlled NTV, which aired the film and often smears opposition leaders with material "leaked" by the security services, "If you happen to find yourself featured in an NTV documentary, then you'd best watch your back."

# Two Pussy Riot members are facing transfer to one of Russia's notorious penal colonies, where disease, abuse, and recidivism are depressingly commonplace. Correspondent Daisy Sindelar reports.

# Recent comments by Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych suggest that activists from the feminist group Femen could soon face a crackdown. Correspondent Robert Coalson files this report.

# Captain Houshang Shahbazi, who came to fame last year after safely landing a Boeing727 following the failure of its nose landing gear, has told Iranian news agencies that Iranian authorities have forced him into early retirement and accused him of calling Iran's airline industry unsafe. In recent months, Shahbazi has been campaigning against sanctions that have prevented Iran from updating its fleet of civilian planes. Correspondent Golnaz Esfandiari reports.

# A top Turkish pianist has appeared in an Ankara court on charges of insulting Islam with his tweets, in a case that is raising concerns over freedom of expression in Turkey. Correspondent Charles Recknagel reports.

# But sometimes decent society fights back. The shooting of a Pakistani girl peace campaigner by extremists has prompted growing calls for the government to deliver a final deathblow to the Taliban in its stronghold of North Waziristan. Correspondent Abubakar Siddique reports. (See the transcript of RFE/RL's recent Facebook chat on Malala Yousafzai with journalists Abdul Hai Kakar, Daud Khattak and Frud Bezhan.)

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