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A group of international rights groups have urged Uzbekistan to mark the 20th anniversary of the country's constitution with the unconditional release of political prisoners.

The nine groups, which include Human Rights Watch and the Committee to Protect Journalists, said on December 6 that the gesture would demonstrate Tashkent's commitment to reform.

The statement named dozens of potential candidates for release, noting that many of them are suffering from ill-health and have been mistreated in detention.

The statement comes a day after the Uzbek Senate adopted a resolution on amnesty connected with the constitution's anniversary.

The amnesty proposed by Uzbek President Islam Karimov applies to individuals convicted for minor crimes, among others.

Uzbekistan often marks Constitution Day, which takes place on December 8, with prisoner amnesties, but beneficiaries typically do not include people jailed on political grounds.

Based on reporting by AP
Editor Gulzhan Erghalieva
ALMATY -- A Kazakh court has ordered the three-month suspension of an opposition website.

Gulzhan Erghalieva, the chief editor of the website -- guljan.org -- said that the Almaty court gave no reasons for the suspension.

Last month, prosecutors requested that two opposition groups and dozens of opposition media outlets be designated as extremist.

Activities of the unregistered opposition Algha (Forward) party and at least three media outlets have been suspended since then.

Algha leader Vladimir Kozlov was sentenced to 7 1/2 years in prison in October for his role in a mass strike by oil workers in the western town of Zhanaozen that ended in violence in December 2011.

Opposition activists say Koslov's prosecution was politically motivated.

The banned media outlets extensively covered Koslov's trial and the events in Zhanaozen.

With reporting by Interfax

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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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