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Irek Murtazin
Prominent Tatar opposition blogger Irek Murtazin has been hospitilized with serious injuries to his head and body after being severely beaten, RFE/RL’s Tatar-Bashkir Service reports.

Murtazin, a vocal critic of the Kazan mayor and other city officials, says he was attacked by two men near his Kazan apartment last night.

Murtazin's family members told RFE/RL that they suspect the attackers are connected to the Kazan city administration.

Murtazin is working on a book, "Mayoral Team," which details corruption in the city government. He has accused current city officials of involvement in major corruption schemes linked to the city's public transportation system.

Murtazin also wrote "Last President of Tatarstan," which describes the authoritarian methods of Tatarstan's current president, Mintimer Shaimiyev.

Murtazin worked as a presidential spokesman from 1999 to 2002 before becoming an author and journalist.
Hossein Derakhshan has been detained in Iran only weeks after returning to his homeland.
A prominent Iranian-Canadian blogger has been detained and his case is being investigated, Iran's judiciary said today in the first official public confirmation about his whereabouts.

Hossein Derakhshan, nicknamed the "Blogfather" for his role in pioneering a blogging revolution in Iran, last updated his blog in October and Canadian media reports, quoting a friend, said he was detained on November 1 during a visit to Iran.

Derakhshan was being held on charges of spying for Israel, a country the Islamic republic does not recognize, according to Canadian media.

"His case is in a preliminary investigative stage at a revolutionary court and he is currently in incarceration in a jail in Tehran," judiciary spokesman Alireza Jamshidi told a news conference when asked about Derakhshan's case.

Revolutionary courts handle national security cases.

The spokesman did not give further details.

Iranian Nobel Peace Prize winner and rights lawyer, Shirin Ebadi, earlier in December called for Derakhshan's release, although at the time she said she could not confirm independently that he had been detained.

Derakhshan, 33, was a journalist in Tehran before moving to Toronto in 2000. He made his name by publishing instructions on how to use blogging software to publish blogs in Farsi, sparking an explosion of blogging in the Iranian language.

Critical of the Tehran government in the past, Derakhshan has recently been more sympathetic to Tehran. He visited Israel in 2006 and said at the time that this might mean he would not be able to go back to Iran "for a long time."

(by Reuters)

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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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