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The AK 159/6 prison in Dolinka
QARAGHANDY, Kazakhstan -- The inmate in Kazakhstan's notorious Dolinka prison who shot a video showing another inmate being beaten by a jail guard in May was found hanged in the penitentiary last month, RFE/RL's Kazakh Service reports.

Qaidar Sarin, the chief of the labor camp AK 159/6 in the central Kazakh town of Dolinka, told RFE/RL on July 22 that Maksim Kozhanov "commited suicide fearing that his prison term might be prolonged."

Sarin said Kozhanov, 30, was the prisoner who videotaped on a mobile phone a "fake beating of an inmate, Yevgeny Karaush, by a person dressed as a jail guard."

The video clip appeared on the Internet in May and prompted outrage from viewers and human rights organizations.

Dolinka officials said at the time and continue to claim that the video is a fake.

In June, Karaush, Kozhanov, and several other inmates all slit open their abdomens to protest the pressure exerted on them by the prison authorities, some of their relatives told RFE/RL.

The injured inmates were brought to a hospital in the neighboring town of Shakhtinsk for treatment.

But Karaush's mother, Galina Dobrovolskaya, told RFE/RL on July 22 that the inmates were not given full treatment for their injuries. She said they were returned to Dolinka where they were placed in solitary confinement.

"They were still sick and weak, but were placed in solitary confinement and interrogated for several hours a day," she said.

Dobrovolskaya said the jail authorities had to transfer Kozhanov and another protester to the penitentiary hospital due to their physical condition. She said sometime around June 10, "Kozhanov was found hanged."

Dobrovolskaya said Sarin told her that Kozhanov was a drug addict who killed himself because he could not cope with withdrawal symptoms.
Valentin Gefter (file photo)
MOSCOW -- Human rights activists in the North Caucasus are appealing to Russian President Dmitry Medvedev to take action to protect them from attacks and allow them to work safely, RFE/RL's Russian Service reports.

The written appeal to Medvedev comes after Chechen President Ramzan Kadyrov remarked during a television interview that workers at the human rights organization Memorial are "enemies of the people, enemies of the law, and enemies of the state."

Valentin Gefter, the director of Russia's Human Rights Institute, said the problem is not just with Kadyrov, but with the governments and officials throughout the North Caucasus.

"Unfortunately, the problem isn't corrupt soldiers or some sort of underground, but crimes committed by police officers and members of the local government," Gefter said. "While it's a local problem, it seems that the federal government isn't doing anything about it."

In May, Medvedev met with activists working in the North Caucasus and assured them that he fully supported their work.

Kheda Saratova, a human rights activist in the region, said that after she heard Kadyrov's statement she called his office and spoke to his press secretary.

"I asked him what the president's words meant and if, as a human rights activist in Chechnya, I was now considered a criminal by the government," she said. "And he answered me, 'You should cut down your activity.'"

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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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