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Bolat Atabaev faces charges of "inciting social hatred."
The human rights group Amnesty International has declared detained pro-reform Kazakh theater director Bolat Atabaev a "prisoner of conscience."

In a statement, the London-based rights group called the charges against Atabaev "trumped up," saying he had been detained "solely for exercising his right to freedom of expression."

Atabaev, who was arrested last week, faces charges of "inciting social hatred" in connection with last year's protests by striking oil workers in the western town of Zhanaozen, where police shot dead at least 16 people in mid-December.

The term "prisoner of conscience" refers to people jailed because of their political, religious or other beliefs.
Azerbaijan's Talysh-language newspaper "Tolisi sado"
BAKU -- A court in Baku has sanctioned a three-month pretrial detention period for the chief editor of the Baku-based "Tolisi sado" (The Voice of Talysh) independent newspaper.

Hilal Mamedov was arrested on June 21 and accused of possession of illegal drugs.

The nongovernmental Baku Institute for Peace and Democracy said on June 22 that Mamedov was abducted by unknown individuals on June 21, and later his relatives were informed he had been arrested.

Mamedov's relatives say he has never used drugs and that they believe the arrest is politically motivated.

No response to the allegation was immediately available from police.

Mamedov's newspaper is printed in the Talysh language, a branch of Persian.

The Talysh minority's leader in Azerbaijan, Novruzali Mamedov, who edited the newspaper before Mamedov, died in prison in 2009 after he was found guilty of spying for Iran and sentenced to 10 years in prison.

With reporting by

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