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Kourosh Zaim
TEHRAN – Iranian pro-democracy activist Kourosh Zaim has been handed a three-year suspended sentence after judges found him guilty of acting against national security and spreading propaganda against the Islamic republic.

The 72-year-old member of the opposition National Front has been a vocal critic of the regime in Tehran.

Zaim was arrested in February 2011, hours after an interview with RFE/RL's Radio Farda was broadcast.

In the interview, he said authoritarian regimes in the region would inevitably face "social explosions," especially due to the fact that the majority of the populations there are young people who have access to information through social media.

It's not clear, however, whether Zaim's arrest was connected to the interview.

* Correction: This story originally said Zaim had been given a three-year jail sentence.
Activists Join Astrakhan Hunger Striker In Solidarity
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MOSCOW -- Supporters of a Russian mayoral candidate who has been on a hunger strike for more than three weeks have rallied in the southern city of Astrakhan.

Anticorruption blogger Aleksei Navalny traveled from Moscow to Astrakhan to join the protest.

Oleg Shein from the leftist A Just Russia party lost to a candidate from the ruling United Russia party in the March 4 local elections, according to official results.

Shein claims the election was rigged, and began a hunger strike.

Around 20 people are now fasting in support of his cause.

Shein says he will continue his hunger strike until authorities call a recount or a rerun of the election.

Meanwhile in Moscow, Left Front leader Sergei Udaltsov was detained at a picket in support of the Astrakhan hunger strikers.

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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