Saturday, September 20, 2014

Producer At Russia's Dozhd TV Attacked Ahead of Election

The chief producer at independent Russian TV channel Dozhd (Rain) has been attacked, beaten, and robbed.

The internet and cable TV company says two unidentified men attacked Ksenia Batanova, who is also an anchor, near her apartment building in Moscow on September 12.

Dozhd says Batanova lost consciousness after several blows to the face and was hospitalized with a facial bone fracture and a concussion.

The attack came two days before Batanova, who is on a local election commission, was to work at a polling place during elections to the Moscow City Duma on September 14.

The attackers stole her mobile phone and earrings.

Moscow police said on September 15 that an investigation had been opened on suspicion of robbery.

Dozhd is often a platform for criticism of the Kremlin.

Based on reporting by, Interfax and ITAR-TASS

Russian Rocker's Concerts Canceled After Ukraine Tour

Legendary Russian rock musician Andrei Makarevich has had three concerts cancelled following a tour in Ukraine and public criticism of Moscow's role in the conflict there.

Representatives of a restaurant in the Kazan, capital of Russia's Tatarstan region, said on September 12 that a Makarevich concert scheduled for September 27 had been cancelled for "organizational reasons."

Last week, performances scheduled for September 19 and 26 in the Volga River city of Samara were called off for what the venues said were "technical reasons."

Makarevich, frontman of the band Mashina Vremeni (Time Machine) since the Soviet era, has come under a hail of criticism from pro-Kremlin media.

In Ukraine last month, he gave concerts for refugees from the eastern part of the country, where government forces have been fighting pro-Russian separatists Kyiv and the West says are backed by Russian soldiers and supplied with Russian weapons. Russia denies it.

His new song, "My Country Has Gone Mad," went viral in the Internet in recent weeks.

Based on reporting by ITAR-TASS and

Activist Deported From Azerbaijan, Warned About Family

A U.S. citizen of Azerbaijani origin, Said Nuri, has been deported from Azerbaijan after what he called days of intimidation and harassment.

Nuri wrote on Twitter on September 12 that he was ejected from his native country and told he could never return.

He said that after he arrived in Tbilisi, Georgia, from Baku, he received an anonymous email warning him not to forget that his relatives remain in Azerbaijan.

Earlier this week, a sexually explicit video showing Nuri and his girlfriend circulated on the Internet.

On September 4, Azerbaijani officials barred Nuri from leaving the country and questioned him in connection with an undisclosed investigation.

A former deputy chief of the pro-opposition youth group Yeni Fikir (New Opinion), Nuri left Azerbaijan several years ago after a treason investigation was launched against his organization.

Activist Barred From Leaving Azerbaijan Condemns Release Of Sex Video

Azerbaijani opposition activist Said Nuri says he has done nothing illegal.

RFE/RL's Azerbaijani Service

A sexually explicit video showing former activist Said Nuri has been posted on the Internet in what Nuri says is an attempt by the Azerbaijani authorities to discredit him.

Nuri, a U.S. citizen who was prevented from leaving his native Azerbaijan last week following a visit there, said on Twitter on September 11 that he has done nothing illegal and that woman he is shown with in the video is his girlfriend.

A former deputy chief of the pro-opposition youth group Yeni Fikir (New Opinion), Nuri left  Azerbaijan several years ago after a treason investigation was launched against his organization.

Azerbaijani officials barred him from leaving the country on September 4 and questioned him in connection with an undisclosed investigation.

The Caspian Sea country's government has been criticized in the past for using intimate and illegally obtained videos to discredit opposition activists and journalists, including RFE/RL Azerbaijani Service correspondent Khadija Ismayilova.


Father Of Jailed Belarusian Opposition Leader Gets Threat Letter

Viktar Statkevich (right) and human rights advocate Syarhey Housha in Baranavichy on September 9

RFE/RL's Belarus Service

The 88-year-old father of a jailed Belarusian opposition leader has received a threatening letter that he says is government pressure on his son.

Viktar Statkevich, the father of former presidential candidate Mikalay Statkevich, told RFE/RL that he found a Russian patriotic symbol called a St. George ribbon affixed to the gate of his house in the western city of Baranavichy on September 8.

The letter was addressed to "the slaves of the CIA."The letter was addressed to "the slaves of the CIA."
The letter was addressed to "the slaves of the CIA."
The letter was addressed to "the slaves of the CIA."

He then found a letter in his mailbox addressed, in Russian, to "the slaves of the CIA, dirty offenders the Statkeviches."

It said it was from "the Islamic State of Iraq and Levant" and also included the words "Allah Akbar!" (God is great).

Human rights activist Syarhey Housha called for an investigation and said he shared Stakevich's belief that the letter was a form of pressure on his son.

Mikalay Statkevich is serving a six-year prison term for "organizing mass disturbances" following authoritarian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka's reelection in December 2010.

Police Detain Crimean Blogger, Critic Of Annexation

RFE/RL's Ukrainian Service

SIMFEROPOL, Ukraine -- Police in Crimea have briefly detained a well-known blogger who has strongly criticized Russia's annexation of the peninsula from Ukraine.

Yelizaveta Bohutskaya, who has been a contributor to RFE/RL's Crimean desk under the name Liza Bohutski, was detained during a search of her home on September 8 and released later in the day.

She told RFE/RL that the apartment she shares wih her husband in Simferopol had been searched by police accompanied by security troops with assault rifles. 

Police questioned Bohutskaya about her participation in greeting the leader of Crimean Tatars, Mustafa Dzhemilev, near the administrative boundary between Crimea and continental Ukraine in May. 

Russia has barred Dzhemilev from Crimea and about 100 people who greeted him in May are being investigated. 

Bohutskaya added that police said to her that her blogs and on-line articles are anti-Russian and might be considered extremist.

Inmates' Relatives Say Kazakh Authorities Quashed Prison Protest

RFE/RL's Kazakh Service

Inmates in a prison in Kazakhstan's Almaty Province have reportedly rioted to protest harsh conditions.

Some 20 relatives of inmates have been gathered outside the LA-155/8 penal colony in the southern town of Zarechnoye since September 7, demanding to see their loved ones.

The relatives say 150 inmates protested over the weekend, some of them cutting their veins, and that their protest was quashed by riot police.

A spokesman of the regional agency overseeing penitentiaries rejected the relatives' claims. He said 30 inmates had been transferred to other prisons in the former Soviet republic in Central Asia.

The relatives say officials have refused to tell them exactly who was transferred and why.

Prisoners in Kazakhstan have rioted frequently in recent years to protest conditions, often maiming themselves to draw attention to their plight.

About This Blog

"Watchdog" is a blog with a singular mission -- to monitor the latest developments concerning human rights, civil society, and press freedom. We'll pay particular attention to reports concerning countries in RFE/RL's broadcast region.

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