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Syarhey Kavalenka in late February
VITSEBSK, Belarus -- Jailed Belarusian opposition activist Syarhey Kavalenka, whose health has deteriorated due to a lengthy hunger strike, reportedly is being forcibly fed in a prison psychiatric clinic in the eastern city of Vitsebsk.

Prison officials told Kavalenka's relatives on April 2 that Kavalenka’s state of health is “close to grave” and a decision was made to feed him forcibly with a milk formula using a feeding tube.

Kavalenka, 37, was sentenced in February to 25 months in jail for a parole violation.

He was detained in December for allegedly violating the terms of his parole for a conviction on charges of "illegally displaying the banned Belarusian national flag."

He began his hunger strike shortly after his detention.

Officials force-fed him in January, but he resumed his hunger strike in February.
Josef Stalin
A senior Russian human rights official has criticized the publication of school notebooks with the portraits of political figures on the covers.

Mikhail Fedotov, chairman of the presidential Commission on the Development of Civil Society and Human Rights, made the comments in response to the recent sales in Moscow of notebooks with portraits of Soviet dictator Josef Stalin on the cover.

The notebooks were part of the "Great Names of Russia" series.

"School is not a place for political propaganda," Fedotov said, adding that "no one would be bothered" by notebooks with portraits of great Russian writers, composers, or scientists.

The head of the Moscow municipal education committee told Ekho Moskvy that Stalin was "a criminal who destroyed millions of his countrymen" and that including him among the "great names of Russia" was "nonsense."

The same printing company had earlier used a portrait of Stalin for a series called "Famous World Tyrants."

Based on reporting by Interfax and Ekho Moskvy

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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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