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Aleh Korban
MINSK -- One Belarusian opposition leader was detained today and a second summoned for questioning by the KGB, RFE/RL's Belarus Service reports.

Aleh Korban, who was elected January 29 to be the leader of the youth wing of Belarus's opposition United Civic Party (AHP), was detained by the Committee for State Security (KGB) for reasons that remain unclear.

Korban managed to use his mobile phone to inform the AHP leadership about his detention.

Korban led opposition candidate Yaraslau Ramanchuk's campaign in the December 19 presidential election. He was arrested along with hundreds of other opposition activists and supporters on December 19 for taking part in the unsanctioned protests against official election results naming incumbent President Alyaksandr Lukashenka the winner.

On January 7, Korban was released from detention but was told not to leave Minsk pending the conclusion of the ongoing investigation of those protests.

Zmitser Salauyou, the chairman of the opposition Belarusian Popular Front (BNF) party's branch in the eastern city of Mahileu, was summoned by the KGB earlier today as a witness in a case supervised by an investigator named Makhunou. No further details were given.

It was the second subpoena Salauyou has received from the KGB since January 12, when he was informed that an investigation had been launched into his "illegal activities connected with organizing unsanctioned mass gatherings in 2010." Salauyou lodged a complaint about those accusations with Belarusian KGB Chairman Vadzim Zaytsau.

On January 15, KGB officers searched Salauyou's apartment and confiscated the hard drive of his computer, two Belarusian national white-and-red flags, and his video camera with footage of the mass protests on Minsk's Independence Square that followed the disputed December presidential election.

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Ethnic Uzbek human rights activist Azimjan Askarov
BISHKEK -- The U.S. Embassy in Bishkek says it is concerned about the fairness of an appeal hearing in a murder case related to last year's ethnic violence in the south, RFE/RL's Kyrgyz Service reports.

The Supreme Court on January 26 began hearing the appeal of Azimjan Askarov, a well-known human rights defender, and seven other ethnic Uzbeks convicted of murdering a police officer during the clashes in June.

Askarov and four others received life sentences, two were given 20-year prison terms, and one was sentenced to nine years in a case that has been criticized by rights groups in Kyrgyzstan and abroad.

In a statement today, the U.S. Embassy said it was encouraged by the court’s decision to allow the inclusion of previously disallowed documents on behalf of the defense.

But it also said it was "troubled" by some of the court's reported actions, saying the court's refusal to allow Askarov and other defendants to attend the hearing and make their own statements "could call into question the impartiality of the hearing."

Hearing Could Send Message

The embassy urged the court to exercise impartiality, saying a fair, impartial hearing "will send a solid message to the world that Kyrgyzstan is clearly on the path to becoming the free and democratic society its citizens desire."

The international campaign group Human Rights Watch said last week the case against the eight has been a "miscarriage of justice from the very beginning" and urged the Supreme Court to order a retrial and probe into allegations of torture.

Clashes between ethnic Uzbeks and Kyrgyz last June in Osh and the nearby Jalal-Abad regions left more than 400 people dead.

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About This Blog

"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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