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Sergei Udaltsov, leader of the Left Front opposition party, speaks with journalists during a protest in Moscow on October 12.
MOSCOW -- A Moscow court has ruled that the arrest of an organizer of Russia's mass protest on December 10 was legal, RFE/RL's Russian Service reports.

Sergei Udaltsov, a coordinator of the opposition Left Front movement, was arrested for "illegally leaving a hospital while serving a multi-day jail term for holding an unsanctioned mass gathering in the past."

Udaltsov was one of the organizers of a December 10 Moscow protest, one of dozens nationwide calling for fresh parliamentary elections following what protesters claim was a rigged poll on December 4.

Udaltsov was again sent from the courtroom to the hospital on December 10.

Udaltsov told RFE/RL on December 12 that his lawyers plan to appeal the ruling, and added that he is on a hunger strike.

He said several policemen are monitoring him in the hospital.

Read more in Russian here
BABRUYSK, Belarus -- An opposition activist has disappeared after reporting to police for questioning in eastern Belarus, RFE/RL's Belarus Service reports.

Police searched Dzmitry Toustsik's dormitory room where he lives with his family in the city of Babruysk and reportedly found illegal drugs on December 5. Toustsik, an opposition United Civic Party (AHP) activist, was then detained at a police station for many hours.

On December 6, Toustsik was summoned to the police station for questioning. But his relatives and colleagues have not heard from him since then.

Police refused to give any information regarding Toustsik's whereabouts to his mother, who suffers from a serious heart condition. Toustsik's wife, Alena Toustsik, and their baby girl are currently in the hospital and were not home when police searched their room.

Alena Toustsik told RFE/RL that her husband called her on December 5 and informed her that police searched their dormitory room and found some dried leaves in a children's book that he thinks they will claim are a drug or an illegal substance.

"[On December 6] they summoned him to the police again and I have not heard from him since," she said. "Police say they do not have him. I do not know what to do. On [December 5] a woman came to visit me in the hospital and said that from now on our family will be included in a registry of families that have violated administrative regulations."

Read more in Belarusian 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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