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Yevhen Zakharov of the Ukrainian Human Rights Union
KYIV -- Ukrainian rights activists have called on "democratic countries" to introduce sanctions against Ukrainian officials that they claim are involved in human rights violations, RFE/RL's Ukrainian Service reports.

Yevhen Zakharov, a member of the Ukrainian Human Rights Union, told RFE/RL on June 10 that a refusal by "democratic countries" to issue visas to Ukrainian officials implicated in infringing human rights, as well as freezing their assets abroad, could help end what he called "human rights violations" and "political persecution" in Ukraine.

"One has to understand that in order to introduce such sanctions it is necessary to have clear evidence that political persecution took place," he said.

Meanwhile, opposition factions in the Ukrainian parliament are preparing their own appeal to Western countries regarding sanctions against government officials.

Taras Steskiv, a Ukrainian parliament deputy and member of the Our Ukraine-People's Self Defense faction, told RFE/RL on June 10 that the final decision on the appeal will be made this week.

According to "Ukrainska Pravda's" website, on the draft list of officials that the opposition wants to have sanctions brought against are the prosecutor-general, several of his subordinates, and a number of judges.

Hanna Herman, an adviser to President Viktor Yanukovych and head of the presidential administration's humanitarian department, compared the opposition initiative to tactics during "fascist times."

Writing in a blog titled "Segregation?" on June 10, Herman said the preparation of "blacklists" of officials who she said displease opposition leader and former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko reminds her of "fascist methods" of segregation for different ethnic groups such as Jews and Roma.

On June 9, the European Parliament issued a resolution that warned Ukraine to stop using criminal law as an instrument of pressure on the opposition.
Iranian political activist and journalist Reza Hoda Saber, who died after a 10-day hunger strike at Evin prison.
The sister of prominent Iranian journalist and rights activist Reza Hoda Saber has confirmed her jailed brother's death following a 10-day hunger strike, according to RFE/RL's Radio Farda.

Saber had been transferred to a hospital from Tehran's Evin prison, where he had been held since being imprisoned along with hundreds of other activists and intellectuals in the wake of Iran's disputed June 2009 election.

His sister, Firouzeh Saber, told Radio Farda that the family believes authorities waited several hours after Saber complained of chest pains to hospitalize him.

From jail, Saber had launched his hunger strike on June 2 to protest the treatment of another jailed rights advocate, Haleh Sahabi, who died after what eyewitnesses described as a scuffle at the June 1 funeral of her father, himself a regime opponent who had served time in Iranian jails.

"There are three issues here," Firouzeh Saber told Radio Farda hours after his death. "First of all, why was he in prison? He had been in prison without having been sentenced. Second, why did a tragedy such as [Sahabi's] death happen, leading [Saber] to go on hunger strike? And third, why were [authorities] so careless that it took them several hours to take him to the hospital [after he complained of chest pains]."

This photo posted by the "Kaleme" opposition website suggested that relatives of Reza Hoda Saber gathered in front of Tehran's Modarres hospital after news of his death emerged on June 12.



The opposition "Kaleme" website was among the sources of the original report. The ISNA news agency said Saber's sister had identified his body.

Saber had previously been jailed on several occasions since 2000.

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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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