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Anna Shavenkova, the daughter of the Irkutsk Region Election Committee's chairman, outside an Irkutsk courtroom in November.
IRKUTSK, Russia -- The daughter of a former Russian official has been given a suspended sentence for causing a road accident that killed one person, RFE/RL's Russian Service reports.

Anna Shavenkova, the daughter of a former regional election commission head, was found guilty of causing the December 2009 traffic accident at the heart of the case.

Driving at speed, she lost control of her car, which mounted a sidewalk and hit two sisters, Yelena and Yulia Pyatkova (see video of the accident here). The elder sister, Yelena, later died in hospital, while the younger sister, Yulia, was severely injured.

WATCH: Caught on closed-circuit television, Shavenkova's reaction after her car slammed into the pedestrians infuriated many who saw it, as she took out her purse and used her phone without ever checking on the obviously seriously injured victims.

The court in Irkutsk in southwestern Siberia found Shavenkova guilty of manslaughter and handed down a 2 1/2-year prison sentence suspended for 14 years. She was also stripped of her driving license for three years.

Shavenkova said today in court she was "very sorry for what happened."

A representative for the victims commented after the verdict was pronounced that "there is no justice in Russia."

Read more in Russian here
Russians Іvan Gaponov (left) and Artyom Breus (second from right) were each fined $3,000 for their participation in postelection activities in Belarus.
MINSK -- Two Russians have been fined for taking part in December's postelection protests in Belarus, RFE/RL's Belarus Service reports.

Artyom Breus and Ivan Gaponov were found guilty on March 10 of participating in mass unrest in Minsk on December 19 and fined $3,000 each.

The sentences sparked suggestions by rights activists that Belarusian authorities made the punishments relatively mild in light of planned March 15 visit by Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin.

Moscow had called for the pair's release.

Four Belarusian activists who took part in the December protests were sentenced to jail terms of three to four years.

Gaponov and Breus were arrested on December 19 along with hundreds of Belarusian opposition activists who gathered with thousands of others in central Minsk to protest the official results of the presidential election, which declared incumbent President Alyaksandr Lukashenka the runaway winner.

A total of 42 men and women have officially been charged with organizing and/or participating in the "mass unrest in Minsk on December 19." They include five opposition presidential candidates, two of whom are still in detention.

Lyudmila Hraznova, chairwoman of the Rights Defending Alliance officially registered in Vilnius, Lithuania, told journalists after the March 10 trial that the verdicts were much more lenient than those pronounced earlier against Belarusian citizens who were tried in the same case. She attributed the discrepancy to Putin's visit.

Another Minsk-based rights activist, Valyantsin Stefanovich, likewise said the verdicts were directly connected to Putin's visit. He added that another defendant in the case, Belarusian citizen Dzmitry Myadzved, whose verdict was also pronounced on March 10, was sentenced to three years of restricted freedom and left the courtroom a free man only because if he had gotten a harsher sentence, it would have been too obvious that the preferential treatment shown to the two Russians was politically motivated.

The Russian Embassy in Minsk said last month that Belarusian secret services "exerted pressure" on Breus and Gaponov during the investigation into their cases.

Chilly relations between Lukashenka and Russia's leadership appeared to thaw slightly ahead of December's election in Belarus.

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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