Monday, July 28, 2014

Concerns Over Health Of Kazakh Lawyer In Psychiatric Clinic

RFE/RL's Kazakh Service

The health of Kazakh lawyer Zinaida Mukhortova, who was forcibly put into a psychiatric clinic, is reportedly deteriorating.

Mukhortova's sister, Natalya Abent, told RFE/RL on July 25 that the lawyer has red eyes and is not able to properly move because her body is swollen.

Abent said her sister's health problems were caused by medication administered to her in the clinic.

Mukhortova was detained and placed in the clinic on July 2 after she had returned to Balkash from self-imposed exile in Russia.

Mukhortova, 56, fled Kazakhstan in December after a Qaraghandy regional court rejected her appeal to cancel her forced psychiatric treatment.

Mukhortova was forced to undergo psychiatric treatment twice in 2012 and 2013.

She insisted the legal actions against her were politically motivated.

Mukhortova said authorities investigated her mental competence only after she filed complaints against a high-ranking local official.

Russian Opposition Figures Udaltsov, Razvozzhaev Sentenced To Prison

Russian opposition leader Sergei Udaltsov appears at the Moscow City Court on July 24.

A Russian court has sentenced two Russian opposition activists -- Sergei Udaltsov and Leonid Razvozzhayev – to 4.5 years in prison each.

The Moscow City Court announced the sentences on the evening of July 24 after the same court earlier in the day found both men guilty of organizing mass disorder.

Udaltsov, the coordinator of the Left Front movement, and Razvozzhayev were accused of preparing mass riots in Russian regions and organizing an anti-Putin rally on Moscow's Bolotnaya Square in May 2012 that turned violent and left scores of protesters and police injured.

Razvozzhayev was also accused of illegally crossing the border.

Investigators say the protest was orchestrated by a Georgian politician, Givi Targamadze, who is not in Russia.

The two went on trial in February and pleaded not guilty.

On July 7, the prosecutor asked the court to sentence Udaltsov and Razvozzhayev to eight years in jail each.

Udaltsov has already declared he was going on a hunger strike to protest the court decision.

Based on reporting by Reuters, ITAR-TASS, and Interfax 

Kazakhs Continue Land Confiscation Protest

RFE/RL's Kazakh Service

Several women and their children are continuing a demonstration against the confiscation of their property by the Kazakh government.

The protesters have again gathered in front of the government's building in Astana, on July 24, a day after their demand to meet with presidential office chief Nurlan Nyghmatulin was rejected.

The protesters first gathered in front of the government building on July 23, intending to spend the night there to observe the Islamic Night of Revelation, or Laylat al-Qadr, in protest.

At around midnight, police detained them and kept them at a police station until 3 a.m.

The protesters say local authorities routinely confiscate land from people and justify the move by citing "state necessity," giving little or no compensation.

They said that often the confiscated land is used to build private homes for authorities or businessmen.


Opposition Activist Detained In Azerbaijan

RFE/RL's Azerbaijani Service

The chairman of the youth wing of the opposition Musavat (Equality) party in Azerbaijan has been detained.

Musavat party officials say Farac Karimli was detained at a health center in Baku on July 23.

Karimli's father, Rafiq Karimli, told RFE/RL that his family had not been informed where his son is being held.

On July 17, Farac's brother Sirac was arrested and charged with drug possession.

According to Musavat officials, Karimli's detention is politically motivated as the 29-year-old opposition activist is an administrator of the party's website and played a big role in the party's online activities.

Interior Ministry spokesman Ehsan Zahidov told RFE/RL he has no information regarding Karimli's arrest or current whereabouts.


Detained Tajik Researcher Released, Asked To Stay In Dushanbe

RFE/RL's Tajik Service

Detained Tajik researcher Aleksandr Sodikov has been released from jail on July 22 after spending 36 days in pretrial detention in Dushanbe.

Media reports in Tajikistan cite Sodikov's relatives as saying that Sodikov was requested not to leave Dushanbe while an investigation into his case continues.

Sodikov, 31, a Tajik national residing in Canada, was detained in Tajikistan's southern city of Khorugh on June 16, shortly after speaking with civil society activists there.

He was later charged with high treason and spying.

Sodikov denies any wrongdoing, saying he had been touring Central Asia as part of his doctoral research at Britain’s University of Exeter and the University of Toronto in Canada.

With reporting by Ozodagon

Jailed Tajik Opposition Leader's Lawyer Detained

RFE/RL's Tajik Service

A lawyer for jailed Tajik opposition businessman Zayd Saidov has been detained in Dushanbe.

Tajikistan's Anticorruption Agency told RFE/RL that Shukhrat Qudratov was detained on July 21 on bribe-related charges. No further details were available.

Qudratov is the second lawyer for Saidov to be detained by Tajik authorities.

In March, Saidov lawyer Fakhriddin Zokirov was arrested for his alleged debts to a local bank. He is still in pretrial detention.

Saidov, the leader of the unregistered New Tajikistan opposition party, was sentenced to 26 years in jail in December after he was found guilty of financial fraud, polygamy, and sexual relations with a minor.

Saidov and his lawyers have denied the charges and claim they are politically motivated.

Saidov was arrested in May 2013 after harshly criticizing the government while presenting his party’s political program one month earlier.

Photogallery Russian Activists Commemorate Slain Rights Defender Estemirova

  • Natalya Estemirova poses at the Front Line Club in London on October 4, 2007.
  • Natalya Estemirova (seated left) with journalists and staff members of the Grozny branch of the Memorial human rights group on July 26, 2007
  • Human rights activist Natalya Estemirova in the Chechen capital of Grozny on September 1, 2004
  • The body of slain Russian human rights activist Natalya Estemirova is transported to the village of Koshkeldy, Chechnya, for her funeral on July 16, 2009.
  • Mourners gather for the Estemirova's funeral in Koshkeldy, about 70 kilometers east of Grozny on July 16, 2009.
  • Flowers cover a photo of slain journalist and human rights activist Natalya Estemirova at a protest rally in Moscow on July 16, 2009.
RFE/RL's Russian Service

Russian and international rights organizations have called for justice on the fifth anniversary of the killing of slain Chechen rights activist and journalist Natalya Estemirova.

Amnesty International is holding an event in Moscow to commemorate her death and is collecting signatures for a petition demanding officials thoroughly investigate her death.

Estemirova was abducted in the Chechen capital, Grozny, on July 15, 2009. Her body was found the next day in Ingushetia. 

The Memorial Human Rights Center, where Estemirova worked, said an investigation by authorities showed the possible involvement of law enforcement officers in the crime.

No one has been arrested for her murder.

David Kramer, president of the rights watchdog Freedom House, said Russian officials had "dragged their feet and pushed forward a version of events [of Estemirova's death] that is obviously fabricated, shielding her killers from justice, effectively validating their actions."

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"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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