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A mourner in Minsk holds a photograph of Ihar Ptsichkin, who died in prison under mysterious circumstances.
MINSK -- Four activists in Belarus have been fined 500,000 rubles ($42) for attempting to commemorate the life of a young man who died in prison under uncertain circumstances.

A court in Minsk on September 16 found the four activists guilty of organizing an unsanctioned public gathering.

The men were detained on September 14 in front of a detention center in Minsk, where they had intended to hold a memorial service for Ihar Ptsichkin, who died in the center.

Prsichkin's sister, Iryna Miranovich, was also arrested during the attempt to commemorate Ptsichkin.

The court on September 16 warned her of possible consequences if she tries to organize an unsanctioned public event in the future.

Ptsichkin died in August while serving a three-month sentence for driving without a licence.

Relatives reject official statements saying Ptsichkin died of heart failure.

They say his body bore traces of beating.
BAKU -- Additional charges have been brought against eight activists of the opposition NIDA youth movement in Azerbaijan.

Lawyers for the jailed young men told RFE/RL on September 13 that the new charges were organization of mass disorders and taking part in them.

The eight were arrested in March and April on charges of possessing illegal drugs and weapons after they took part in an antigovernment protest in Baku in March.

The activists deny any wrongdoing, saying the charges against them are politically motivated.

New York-based Human Rights Watch accused the Azerbaijani authorities last week of trying to silence dissent ahead of the October 9 presidential election.

In August, Amnesty International demanded the immediate release of the activists, saying the Azerbaijani government has a record of pressing false charges to silence dissent.

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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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