Tuesday, September 02, 2014

Russian Opposition Activist Gets 15 Days

Leonid Martynyuk has shot a series of documentaries called "The Lies of Putin's Regime."

RFE/RL's Russian Service

A Russian opposition activist has been placed under arrest for 15 days after an incident in which his wife said he did nothing wrong.

A court in the southern city of Krasnodar found Leonid Martynyuk guilty of minor hooliganism on August 27 after he was pushed and cursed by a stranger at a railway station.

Martynyuk's wife, Yekaterina Zavgorodnyaya, said on Facebook that her husband was detained after reporting the incident to police.

Journalist and blogger Martynyuk is a member of the opposition Republican Party of People's Freedom (PARNAS).

He and Boris Nemtsov, another prominent critic of President Vladimir Putin, wrote a report about alleged corruption during preparations for 2014 February Sochi Winter Olympics.

Martynyuk has shot a series of documentaries called "The Lies of Putin's Regime." The last one is about the downing of a passenger jet that crashed in Ukraine, killing 298 people.


Transparency International Under Pressure In Azerbaijan

Rena Safaraliyeva, executive director of Transparency Azerbaijan, says the group has been unable to receive funds from abroad.

RFE/RL's Azerbaijani Service

Transparency International’s office in Baku says it is being forced to suspend some of its projects in Azerbaijan because of problems receiving funds through its bank in Baku.

Transparency Azerbaijan executive director Rana Safaraliyeva told RFE/RL on August 27 that her team has not been able to receive financial support in the form of bank transfers from the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) for two months.

She said the Baku branch of Unibank, the bank used by her nongovernmental anticorruption group, has been returning wire transfers of funds sent by USAID -- citing technical problems.

Safaraliyeva’s remarks come less than two weeks after Human Rights Watch said Azerbaijan's government was pressuring independent organizations that are involved in the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative, an international coalition that promotes openness in the oil and natural-gas industries.

In its August 15 statement, Human Rights Watch said Baku’s pressure on groups involved in that anticorruption initiative included the freezing of bank accounts and was part of a broader crackdown that has been escalating since the 2013 presidential election.

Kyrgyz State Security Files Libel Lawsuit Against Journalist

RFE/RL's Kyrgyz Service

Kyrgyzstan's State Committee for National Security (UKMK) reportedly has filed a libel lawsuit against an independent journalist in the country's southern region of Osh.

Shokhrukh Saipov, a freelance correspondent, told RFE/RL on August 25 that the UKMK's lawsuit against him is related to an article he wrote that was published online in May by the Fergana.ru news website.

The article alleged that UKMK officers extort bribes from Kyrgyz citizens who are arrested on suspicion of seeking to join Islamic militants in Syria.

According to Saipov, local UKMK branch chief Asylbek Kojobekov is seeking a payment of $20,000 in damages.

A trial has been scheduled in Osh on August 28.

The UKMK press secretary, Rakhat Sulaimanov, told RFE/RL that he has no information about the case.

But Sulaimanov insisted that allegations about bribe extortion by UKMK officers are groundless.

UN Rights Chief Condemns 'Appalling' Islamic State Crimes

The UN's human rights chief has condemned Islamic State (IS) militants for their campaign of "ethnic and religious cleansing" in Iraq.

In an August 25 statement, Navi Pillay said the "appalling" crimes being committed by Islamic State forces include killings, slavery, sexual offenses, and targeting people on ethnic or religious grounds.

Pillay said violations documented by UN investigators would amount to crimes against humanity and war crimes.

She said Christians, Yazidis, and Turkomans are among those targeted.

In one instance documented by UN rights workers, up to 670 prisoners from Badush prison in Mosul were killed by Islamic State on June 10 after being taken to a remote area and screened for non-Sunnis.

Pillay called on the Iraqi government and the international community to protect vulnerable ethnic and religious communities, highlighting the plight of at least 13,000 Shi'a Turkomans in Salahuddin Province besieged by IS forces since mid-June.

Based on reporting by Reuters and AFP

Journalist Attacked While Covering Pro-Ukrainian Pickets In St.Petersburg

RFE/RL's Russian Service

A correspondent for Russia's Ekho Moskvy radio has been attacked while covering single-person pickets supporting Ukraine in St. Petersburg.

An attacker whose name was not made public was seen kicking Vesnin several times in the hands and face during the incident on August 23.

Vesnin was taken to a hospital after the attack, and was diagnosed with a concussion and a closed head injury.

Police detained the suspected attacker but released him on August 25 after he was charged with minor hooliganism.

Deputies in St. Petersburg's legislature have urged the city's governor, Georgy Poltavchenko, to take the case under his personal supervision and guarantee that the attacker is held responsible.


Navalny's Wife Summoned To Russian Investigative Committee

Aleksei Navalny (left) walks with his wife, Yulia (center) in July.


The wife of Kremlin critic Aleksei Navalny has been questioned by investigators over a case the anti-corruption blogger says is part of a campaign of pressure against him.

Yulia Navalnaya wrote in her husband’s Twitter account that she had been summoned to the Investigation Committee on August 25 and questioned by investigators about a poster confiscated from Navalny’s' apartment in June.

Police claim the poster was stolen off a street in the city of Vladimir, some 170 kilometers northeast of Moscow.

Navalny has said the poster was a birthday gift and that the case was a new attempt to put pressure on him.

Navalny’s wife wrote that she refused to answer the investigators' questions, citing her constitutional right to remain silent.

The case is one of several targeting Navalny, who is already serving a five-year suspended sentence on a 2013 theft conviction.

Azerbaijani Journalist, Rights Activist Severely Beaten

Azerbaijani journalist İlgar Nasibov suffered severe head trauma, a broken nose, fractured ribs, and serious blood loss.

RFE/RL's Azerbaijani Service

An Azerbaijani journalist and rights activist has been badly beaten by unknown assailants in the country's Naxcivan exclave.

Ilgar Nasibov was attacked late on August 21 while he was in the office of the Naxcivan Resource Center, the only independent rights organization operating in the province.

Nasibov, who was found unconscious, suffered severe head trauma, a broken nose, fractured ribs, and serious blood loss.

A photograph of Nasibov after the attack shows his eyes swollen shut from the beating.

OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media Dunja Mijatovic said that "this criminal act has an enormous chilling effect on free expression and free media" and she urged the Azerbaijani authorities to bring Nasibov's attackers to justice.

International rights groups have been complaining about a crackdown by Azerbaijani authorities on rights activists.

Four of the leading activists in the country have been detained and charged with serious crimes in recent weeks.

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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