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Journalist Eynulla Fatullayev in court in June 2010
BAKU -- The jailed chief editor of the former newspaper "Gundalik Azerbaijan," Eynulla Fatullayev, has sent a letter to President Ilham Aliyev expressing hope that he will be released, RFE/RL's Azerbaijani Service reports.

Fatullayev's lawyer, Anar Qasimov, told RFE/RL the journalist asked Aliyev to intervene in the complicated situation around Fatullayev's case and "expressed hope he will be released as the issue is connected directly to the president."

The European Council's Ministerial Committee recently urged the Azerbaijani authorities to consider all means available to release Fatullayev, including the possibility of a conditional release.

The journalist's father, Emin Fatullayev, told RFE/RL that such requests will not bring any results until Aliyev gets personally involved in the issue.

Zalimkhan Yaqub, of the presidential pardoning commission, told RFE/RL there is no scheduled date for the commission's next meeting. But he said if the commission receives an appeal for a pardon from Fatullayev then it will be discussed.

Fatullayev was sentenced in 2007 to 8 1/2 years in jail on multiple charges, which he says were fabricated in retaliation for his published articles criticizing the authorities.

In April 2010, the Strasbourg-based European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) ruled that Fatullayev should be released and paid 25,000 euros compensation as the Azerbaijani government had violated his rights to freedom of expression and a fair trial.

On October 4, the ECHR's Grand Chamber upheld the ruling after the Azerbaijani government appealed it.

The Azerbaijani Supreme Court revoked some of the charges against Fatullayev, but he remained jailed for a conviction of drug possession while in prison.
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

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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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