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The cards distributed by Tatsyana Ravyaka and Uladzimer Labkovich also contained information about Byalyatski's 2011 trial.
MINSK -- Two activists from the Belarusian rights group Vyasna (Spring) have been detained in Minsk while distributing cards with the photo of the group's jailed leader, Ales Byalyatski.

The cards distributed by Tatsyana Ravyaka and Uladzimer Labkovich also contained information about Byalyatski's 2011 trial.

The two managed to inform RFE/RL by phone about their arrest.

Byalyatski, who is the founder of Vyasna, also helped found Belarus's opposition Popular Front.

He was sentenced in 2011 to 4 1/2 years on tax-evasion charges that his supporters say were politically motivated.

The charges stemmed from Byalyatski's alleged use of personal accounts in Lithuania and Poland to receive funding from international donors for human rights activism in Belarus.

The U.S. State Department spokesman Marie Harf called on the Belarusian authorities on August 3 to immediately release Byalyatski and other political prisoners in the country.

Amnesty International has declared Byalyatski a prisoner of conscience.
RFE/RL Azerbaijani Service journalist Khadija Ismayilova (file photo)
Police in Azerbaijan have detained more than a dozen journalists protesting the apparent renewal of a blackmail and intimidation campaign against RFE/RL investigative journalist Khadija Ismayilova.

The reporters were released after being taken to a police station in the capital, Baku.

The journalists, most of them women, chanted slogans including "Khadija, we are with you!"

RELATED: Threats Escalate Against RFE/RL Reporter In Azerbaijan

Ismayilova's reports have implicated President Ilham Aliyev, who will run for a third term in October, and his family in improper financial activities worth hundreds of millions of dollars.

Ismayilova, who reports for the Azerbaijani Service of the U.S.-funded broadcaster, responded defiantly to the appearance on the Internet in early 2012 of an explicit video in which she was shown.

On August 1, RFE/RL called on Azerbaijani authorities to investigate the new video, which contains intimate and illegally obtained images of Ismayilova.

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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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