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Azerbaijanis protest against deaths in the army in Baku on January 12.
BAKU -- Azerbaijani activists say they have raised 11,600 manats ($14,770) to pay fines for protesters who have been fined hundreds of dollars under a new law on mass gatherings.

Representatives of the Positive Change youth movement told RFE/RL on January 21 that the money will be delivered to the authorities in the form of five-qapik coins (100 qapiks = 1 manat) if the protesters lose their appeal and the fines are confirmed.

The campaign to raise the money was launched last week after more than 20 men were fined for participating in a Baku demonstration on January 12.

The event was aimed at raising awareness about the deaths of army conscripts.

The men have been ordered to pay fines ranging from $380 to $760 (300 to 600 manats) each, adding up to a total of $13,400.
Yury Humyanyuk in 2008
HRODNA, Belarus -- Relatives of a Belarusian journalist who died in the western city of Hrodna say they do not believe his death was a suicide.

Yury Humenyuk, 43, fell from the ninth floor of a dormitory on January 19, not far from the house he shared with his mother.

He was a correspondent for Polish Radio in Warsaw and was known for his criticism of the Belarusian authorities.

Humenyuk's mother told RFE/RL that she considered it very strange that her son went to the nearby dormitory, because he had no friends or acquaintances there.

A dormitory employee told RFE/RL that none of the building's residents received a visit from Humenyuk.

Local authorities have launched an investigation.

Humenyuk was also a noted poet who called for poetry to be independent of Belarusian state control.

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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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