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A supporter of Taisia Osipova at a rally in Moscow on January 31.
A court in western Russia has annulled the 10-year prison sentence handed down to an opposition activist jailed on drug charges her supporters say were politically motivated.

The court in Smolensk on February 15 sent Taisia Osipova's case for additional investigation. She is to remain in detention while the probe is carried out.

Osipova, a member of the opposition movement Other Russia, was jailed in December for drug possession after police said they found five packets containing drugs in her apartment.

Osipova's lawyers and supporters claimed the drugs were planted by police and that the case was fabricated in order to put pressure on her husband, Sergei Fomchenkov, a leading member of Other Russia.

The high-profile case prompted protests in Smolensk and Moscow and was raised by students of Moscow State University’s journalism department during a meeting with President Dmitry Medvedev last month.

Medvedev said he was ready to study Osipova's case and look into a possible pardon.

Osipova's name was also on a recent list of 39 jailed Russians considered political prisoners by opposition groups.

The groups drew up the list and sent it to the presidential office in response to Prime Minister Vladimir Putin's statement earlier this month that "there are no political prisoners in Russia."

Fomchenkov told RFE/RL that the February 15 court decision showed that his wife is not guilty. He said the prosecutor at the appeal trial asked the judge to shorten Osipova’s prison term from 10 to four years.

Fomchenkov linked the February 15 ruling with the upcoming presidential election scheduled for March 4.
Riot police patrol in Zhanaozen on December 18.
Kazakh politicians and rights activists have announced the creation of an international committee to defend the victims of the shootings in the southwestern town of Zhanaozen and activists arrested in connection with the violence.

At least 16 protesting oil workers were shot dead by police in Zhanaozen in December. Dozens were arrested afterward.

Leaders of the Kazakh Communist Party, the head of the Journalists In Trouble nongovernmental organization, and other activists on February 14 announced the creation of the Zhanaozen-2011 committee.

They told journalists in Almaty that human rights organizations in Kyrgyzstan, Poland, Russia, and Ukraine have expressed interest in joining.

Meanwhile, activists in Zhanaozen have asked local authorities to permit the holding of two separate public gatherings in the town later this month.

Authorities have not ruled on the requests.

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About This Blog

"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.


Journalists In Trouble

RFE/RL journalists take risks, face threats, and make sacrifices every day in an effort to gather the news. Our "Journalists In Trouble" page recognizes their courage and conviction, and documents the high price that many have paid simply for doing their jobs. More