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Ales Byalyatski heads the Vyasna human rights group.
MINSK -- The jailed chairman of a human rights group in Minsk has received a court notice saying that he has to pay additional fees for overdue taxes.

Ales Byalyatski was sentenced in November to 4 1/2 years in prison for tax evasion.

The charges against him stemmed from his use of personal accounts in Lithuania and Poland to receive funding from international donors for rights activities in Belarus.

Byalyatski has pleaded not guilty, saying the case against him is politically motivated.

His friends have raised some $90,000 in January to pay the overdue taxes.

Byalyatski's wife, Natallya Pinchuk, says her husband has been ordered to pay an additional $17,500 as a fine for the tax payment's delay and a $876 state fee.

Pinchuk said the fines represented additional official pressure on her husband.
Azerbaijan Oil Company Clashes With Locals Over Demolition
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BAKU -- Security personnel from Azerbaijan's SOCAR state energy company have assaulted an award-winning investigative journalist, leaving him hospitalized.

According to an RFE/RL correspondent, Idrak Abbasov was beaten up on April 18 while he and other journalists were filming a confrontation that erupted as SOCAR employees were demolishing houses in the village of Sulutepe on the outskirts of the capital, Baku.

Abbasov's family said the journalist was now in the hospital and that his condition was serious.

The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) has condemned the attack on Abbasov, with the OSCE representative on freedom of the media, Dunja Mijatovic, calling on the Azerbaijani authorities to "take resolute steps to end all forms of violence against journalists."

Abbasov writes for the "Zerkalo" newspaper and is one of the founding members of the Institute for Reporters' Freedom and Safety in Azerbaijan.

Last month, he was awarded an international prize for his reporting by the Index on Censorship campaign group.

The Azerbaijani authorities have often been accused of stifling media rights, a charge they have consistently rejected.

With reporting by AFP

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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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