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Police arrest a participant in the August 31 rally in Moscow.
MOSCOW -- A European Parliament deputy says she was shocked by police actions against peaceful demonstrators in Moscow on August 31, RFE/RL's Russian Service reports.

Lithuanian Laima Andrikiene, the deputy chairwoman of the European Parliament's Human Rights subcommittee, was at Moscow's Triumph Square at the Strategy 31 demonstration attended by some 400 protesters.

Andrikiene was visiting Russia along with three other members of the European Parliament's Human Rights subcommittee. She attended the rally at the invitation of opposition United Citizens' Front member Andrei Nekrasov.

She said was surprised by the large number of police at the protest and the police officers' behavior in arresting some 70 demonstrators, who she said were picketing "peacefully."

Andrikiene said she plans to include the incident in a human rights report that will be issued by the European Parliament later this year.

The demonstration was one in a series held on the 31st day of the months with that many days. Protesters want to draw attention to Article 31 of the Russian Constitution, which guarantees freedom of assembly.

Despite the constitutional guarantee, authorities have repeatedly refused to sanction Strategy 31 demonstrations.

Among those arrested on August 31 were opposition leaders Boris Nemtsov, Ilya Yashin, Eduard Limonov, and Sergei Udaltsov.
Editor Anatol Sanatsenka
BABRUISK -- The oldest independent newspaper in the eastern Belarusian city of Babruisk says it faces bankruptcy and closure because of government interference, RFE/RL's Belarus Service reports.

Anatol Sanatsenka, the editor of the weekly "Babruiski Kurier" (Babruisk Courier), told RFE/RL on September 2 that the difficult financial situation is the result of city authorities banning all advertising in his paper.

Sanatsenka said "the authorities have been doing everything to strangle our newspaper." He added that until recently, the major mail and periodical distributors Belarusian Post and BelSayuzDruk (Belarusian Press Union) refused to distribute his weekly.

"The local authorities grant awards and financial support to different newspapers and magazines in the city on a regular basis, and we are not among the periodicals [receiving such support]," Sanatsenka said.

He added that local officials tell him his newspaper "does not write about the right things."

Sanatsenka said "we have lost money but we have preserved our values and professionalism, as we are confident that to be a journalist does not mean being a slave."

"Babruiski Kurier" was first published in 1914 and is one of the oldest newspapers in Belarus. In 1920, the Soviets shut it down as it was not state-run or otherwise under official control.

It resumed publication in 1990 as a small periodical and since 1992 has been publishing as a full-fledged weekly newspaper.

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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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