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Police officers block the prison gate as prisoners' relatives gather to see their loved ones in Almaty on July 30.
Kazakh prison officials have said that six inmates in the Almaty detention center cut open their abdomens on July 30 to protest prison conditions, RFE/RL's Kazakh Service reports.

Irina Yakubova, the deputy chairwoman of the Department for Control of the Penal System in the Almaty region, told journalists that the six inmates had been given medical assistance and their current condition was satisfactory.

She said the group of inmates managed to organize mass phone calls to their relatives and media outlets from their jail cells informing them about alleged mass beatings and torture of the inmates by prison guards.

"All the allegations about mass beatings and cruelty are absolutely groundless," Yakubova said.

Yakubova said that the inmates were also protesting the appointment of the detention center's new chief, Dimash Asqaruly.

On July 30, dozens of the inmates' worried relatives gathered in front of the detention center in Almaty demanding a meeting with their loved ones.

But officials did not allow them to meet with the inmates, saying that two of the convicts had cut themselves open.

On July 31, human rights activists Roza Akylbekova and Ardaq Zhanabilova were allowed to visit the prison. They told journalists later that four inmates had maimed themselves. They did not give any further details.

Meanwhile, human rights activist Vadim Kuramshin told RFE/RL that the conflict was caused by a decision by Asqaruly, the new prison chief, to ban mobile phones in the penitentiary.

Kuramshin said the inmates protested and the guards beat them, causing the situation to get out of control.
A Ukrainian blogger says he was summoned by the Ukrainian Security Service (SBU) for questioning for allegedly threatening the life of the president and insulting him.

Oleh Shynkarenko told RFE/RL that SBU officers delivered a summons this morning to his apartment and escorted him to an office in central Kyiv where he was questioned. The conversation concerned his personal blog on Live Journal.

Shynkarenko said that upon arrival he was given transcripts of two of his postings that the SBU had removed from Live Journal.

"The SBU interpreted them as a threat to Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych's life. Of course I had no intention to threaten anyone's life, this was my emotional reaction to everything that is happening today in Ukraine," Shynkarenko said.

In one posting Shynkaruk jokingly asked if there were any nationalists who would be ready to kill Yanukovych.

The other posting was a reprint of an article about Yanukovych from a Russian Internet encyclopedia site.

Shynkarenko said that in this particular posting Yanukovych is subjected to all sorts of insults and injury in the forum accompanying the article.

He said the SBU officers were very polite. He said they spoke in Russian while he answered their questions in Ukrainian.

Shynkarenko said he told the SBU officers that the posts were not a call to any action, that they were on a social networking site, not on any official media site, and they did not represent anything more than a personal view. Had he not done so, the SBU officers told him this matter would drag out for a long time.

After promising not to insult Yanukovych in the future, Shynkarenko says, he was free to go.

-- Ukrainian Service

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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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