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The chief editor of a weekly newspaper based in the eastern Ukrainian city of Kharkiv has been missing for nearly a week and police are investigating possible foul play, RFE/RL's Ukrainian Service reports.

Vasyl Klymentyev, 66, of "Novy Stil" (New Style), was last seen on August 11.

Klymentyev is well known for his articles criticizing the local authorities. His deputy, Petro Matvienko, told RFE/RL that Klymentyev writes mainly about human rights violations and corruption and abuse of power among local law enforcement officers. His recent articles criticized Kharkiv Oblast Deputy Prosecutor Serhiy Khachatrian and regional tax chief Stanislav Denisyuk.

According to Matvienko, on August 9 he and Klymentyev took photographs of mansions belonging to Denisyuk and three other local officials, including a former Ukrainian State Security Service officer. They intended to use the pictures in an article to be published in the next issue of the paper.

Matvienko said he and Klymentyev met on the morning of August 11 to discuss the article and the photos. Later the same day, Matvienko said, he was not able to reach Klymentyev by phone.

Klymentyev's relatives reported him missing on August 12. Police said preliminary investigations revealed that Klymentyev was last seen on August 11 near Kharkiv's Sportivna metro station, together with an unknown man, and that both of them got into a BMW automobile.

On August 15, police officially defined Klymentyev's case as a "possible premeditated murder." The Kharkiv Interior Affairs Department press service declined to explain to RFE/RL the reasons for doing so.
Afghan President Hamid Karzai
Afghanistan's largest gathering of clerics has called for the revival of strict Islamic law as a way to achieve reconciliation with the Taliban, RFE/RL's Radio Free Afghanistan reports.

About 350 members of the Council of Ulema, or religious clerics, gathered on August 12 in Kabul and subsequently released a statement in which they appealed to the Afghan government to implement a strict interpretation of Shari'a, or religious, law, including punishments such as death by stoning for adultery and the cutting off of thieves' hands and feet.

A draft of the council's resolution was reportedly sent to the office of President Hamid Karzai for his approval.

"The lack of implementation of Shari'a [punishment] has cast a negative impact on the peace process," said the 10-point resolution issued after the meeting, Reuters reported.

"We, the ulema and preachers of Afghanistan...earnestly ask the government not to spare any efforts in the implementation of Shari'a punishments," it read.

Amnesty International has called the country's legal system "ill" and urged Karzai not to approve the resolution.

Horya Musadiq, a Kabul-based researcher for Amnesty International, told Radio Free Afghanistan that implementing Shari'a would be degrading and a clear violation of human rights.

"Amnesty International considers punishments such as stoning, executing, or cutting human beings' parts off as totally inhuman," she said. "It is an insult to the human being. We are strongly against it."

The Afghan government should instead enact comprehensive reforms of Afghanistan's judiciary system to comply with international standards.

Musadiq added that she believes the Council of Ulema should not be relied upon as it suffers from a "lack of professionalism," which she said increases the risk of biased or faulty decision-making.

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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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