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RFE/RL's Azerbaijani Service correspondent Khadija Ismayilova accepts the 2012 "Courage in Journalism" award from the International Women's Media Foundation in New York in October 2012.
BAKU -- Eleven leading international human rights organizations have urged Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev to stop a blackmail campaign against Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty investigative journalist Khadija Ismayilova.

In the letter sent to the Azerbaijani leader on August 12, the rights-defending organizations, including Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, and others, write that a smear campaign against Ismayilova that started last year continues as investigators are hesitant to probe the situation.

In March 2012 an explicit video showing Ismayilova with her boyfriend appeared on the Internet.

Last month, a new video containing Ismayilova's intimate and illegally obtained images was leaked after she reported about Aliyev's possible involvement in improper financial activities.

The groups reminded Aliyev that his country "has unambiguous international obligations to respect and protect both the right to privacy and freedom of expression."
A leader of Russia's opposition Left Front movement has asked for political asylum in Sweden.

Aleksei Sakhnin told Radio Sweden that he arrived in the country a month ago to avoid possible arrest in connection with the unrest on Moscow’s Bolotnaya Square in May 2012.

Another leader of the Left Front movement, Sergei Udaltsov, and a Russian opposition lawmaker's aide, Leonid Razvozzhayev, have been officially charged with the organization of the mass unrest, which investigators say was orchestrated by a Georgian politician.

The anti-Putin rally turned violent and scores of demonstrators and police were injured.

The opposition blamed the violence on police provocateurs.

More than 30 people have been charged in connection with the unrest.

Two individuals have been convicted and the trial of 12 others is currently under way.

With reporting by

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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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