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Eight Kyrgyz opposition activists have been sentenced to three days in jail for collecting signatures for a petition.

The leader of the Ata-Meken (Motherland) party's youth wing, Joomart Saparbaev, told RFE/RL's Kyrgyz Service that Bishkek's Lenin district court found the activists guilty of organizing an illegal mass gathering and resisting police officers.

The activists were collecting signatures on December 19 for a petition that called on the government to stop persecuting the opposition, when they were detained by the police, brought to trial, found guilty, and sentenced the same day.
Roza Otunbaeva
BISHKEK -- Kyrgyz parliamentary deputy Roza Otunbaeva has called on her colleagues in parliament to resolve the issue of the broadcasting of RFE/RL's Kyrgyz Service in the country.

Kyrgyz authorities stopped the retransmission of RFE/RL radio and television programs in early October.

Otunbaeva, a former foreign minister, told RFE/RL's Kyrgyz Service that President Kurmanbek Bakiev seems to have forgotten that RFE/RL's Kyrgyz Service was among the factors that helped bring him to power in March 2005.

She added that freedom of speech in Kyrgyzstan has been sacrificed for the interests of one family -- the president's -- and because of that the Kyrgyz people are being deprived of the objective information that is broadcast by RFE/RL.

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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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