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Human rights activist Yevgeny Zhovtis was sentenced in September
An Almaty regional court today rejected an appeal from jailed human rights activist Yevgeny Zhovtis for his case to be reviewed, RFE/RL's Kazakh Service reports.

Zhovtis's lawyer, Vitaly Voronov, told RFE/RL that the supervisory board of the court found the original verdict was correct and refused to review the trial proceedings.

He added that the appeal to the regional court was Zhovtis's last resort because, according to the law, Zhovtis may not appeal his case to the Supreme Court because it is a minor crime.

Voronov said he is going to visit Zhovtis in prison near the northeastern city of Ust-Kamenogorsk to discuss their next steps. Voronov said they may appeal to the UN Human Rights Committee.

Zhovtis was sentenced in September to four years in prison for his role in a traffic accident in which a pedestrian was killed.

Human rights organizations say the charges against Zhovtis are politically motivated because of his professional activity as a human rights defender.
Maksharip Aushev
The U.S. State Department's annual Human Rights Defenders Award has been given posthumously to Ingushetian human rights activist Maksharip Aushev.

Aushev, the owner of the opposition website ingushetia.ru, was shot dead in his car by unknown assailants near Nalchik, the capital of Kabardino-Balkaria, on October 25. He was 43 years old.

His website actively reported about killings, kidnappings, and human rights violations in Russia's volatile North Caucasus.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said in a statement on December 9 that Aushev "bravely continued to train a spotlight on abductions, torture, killings, and other serious human rights abuses in Russia's North Caucasus, even after one of the website's previous owners was killed in police custody in 2008."

One of the leaders of the Ingushetian opposition, Magomet Khazbiev, talked to RFE/RL's Russian Service and praised Aushev for his bravery and courage.

The Human Rights Defenders Award is given each year to individuals and nongovernmental organizations for "individuals or nongovernmental organizations who show exceptional valor and leadership in advocating the protection of human rights and democracy in the face of government repression."

The award will be formally presented at a ceremony early next year.

Today is International Human Rights Day.

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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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