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Ryhor Hryk
An activist in central Belarus has filed a lawsuit against municipal authorities accusing them of illegally banning a public gathering.
Ryhor Hryk told RFE/RL he thinks the judicial system should be independent. He said he hopes the municipal officials in the town of Baranavichy who are responsible for the "illegal ban" will be punished.
Hryk planned to hold a public gathering on October 23 under the slogan: "For a Life Without Lies and Fraud!" The protest was expected to mobilize activists who would challenge "price hikes and the impoverishment of ordinary citizens."
Baranavichy city authorities banned the gathering on the grounds that the chosen slogan "does not correspond to the norms and standards outlined in the Law on Public Gatherings of the Republic of Belarus."
Hryk told RFE/RL he decided to sue the authorities because his right to hold public gatherings on topical issues was violated. He said the slogan "For a Life Without Lies and Fraud!" is completely legal because it focuses on issues of vital concern to society.

Read more in Belarusian here
Bahromiddin Shodiev in a Dushanbe hospital, shortly before his death
DUSHANBE -- A Tajik antitorture coalition has called on the government to investigate the death of a suspect allegedly tortured in police detention, RFE/RL's Tajik Service reports.

The Coalition of NGOs Against Torture said that on October 19, police in Dushanbe's Shohmansur district arrested Bahromiddin Shodiev on suspicion of theft. The following day, he was taken comatose to a hospital, where he underwent surgery.

Shodiev's mother, Niyozbibi Burieva, told RFE/RL on November 2 he told her when he regained consciousness that he had been beaten until he confessed to crimes he had not committed. He said police taped his mouth shut so no one could hear him screaming. He died 10 days later in hospital of his injuries.

The Coalition of NGOs Against Torture -- which consists of several independent law consultancy groups such as Amparo, Avesta, the Union of Lawyers of Sughd Province, and the Independent Center for Human Rights -- is demanding that authorities investigate Shodiev's case.

The Interior Ministry said today the case is under investigation. Two days earlier, the same ministry claimed that Shodiev injured himself when he jumped from a first-floor window in an attempt to escape from custody.

Another detainee, Safarali Sangov, died in almost identical circumstances earlier this year.

Sangov was apprehended at his home in Dushanbe's Sino district on suspicion of drug dealing. He was hospitalized the next day and died on March 5 from injuries sustained in what his relatives say was a severe beating at the Sino district police station.

Police say Sangov tried to commit suicide by hurling himself down two flights of stairs and then, when he was returned to the interrogation room, by repeatedly banging his head against a wall.

On June 6, public prosecutor Zainiddin Juraev announced that two former police officers, Abdurahmon Yakubov and Kodir Hasanov, had been charged with negligence in connection with Sangov's alleged suicide.

Juraev said the policemen did not handcuff Sangov with his hands behind his back, as required by regulations, but with his hands in front of him. That, he said, gave Sangov the opportunity to commit suicide, as he was able to push away his police escort.

That statement upset Sangov's relatives in the courtroom. They say several police officers participated in his arrest on March 1 and suggested that more than two police officers may have been involved in the beating that led to his death.

During a discussion last month at the UN Human Rights Commission in Geneva, Tajik Prosecutor-General Sherkhon Salimzoda admitted that in 2010 and the first eight months of 2011, 70 complaints of torture, beating, and abuse of power were filed against Tajik police and security personnel.

Salimzoda said that in 16 cases, an internal investigation showed the complaint was justified.

Read more in Tajik here

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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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