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Azer Tagiyev
BAKU -- The head of the media arm of Azerbaijan's Central Election Commission has expressed his concern over what he called the "propaganda mode" of presidential campaign coverage by RFE/RL, Voice of America, and the BBC.

Azer Tagiyev said on September 25 that programs broadcast by the three foreign media outlets attempted to influence voters and thus violated Azerbaijani election legislation.

Earlier on September 25, the ruling Yeni Azerbaycan (New Azerbaijan) Party sent a letter to the Central Election Commission complaining about what it called the "illegal" campaign coverage ahead of the October 9 presidential poll by RFE/RL's Azerbaijani Service.

The party said foreign media outlets are legally banned from "conducting preelection campaigns."

The director of RFE/RL's Azerbaijani Service, Kenan Aliyev, rejected the ruling party's statements, calling them "classic scare tactics...to intimidate the independent press."

He called RFE/RL's coverage "balanced, fair, and professional."
Bobomurod Razzoqov (undated, poor quality)
BUKHARA, Uzbekistan -- Prominent Uzbek human rights activist Bobomurod Razzoqov has been sentenced to four years in jail.

Razzoqov's brother told RFE/RL's Uzbek Service that the 60-year-old chairman of the Bukhara regional branch of the Ezgulik (Compassion) human rights group was found guilty at a closed trial of human trafficking and sentenced on September 24.

Razzoqov was detained in July and went on trial last month.

Human Rights Watch issued a statement earlier this month calling the charges against Razzoqov "retaliation" by Uzbek authorities for his human rights work.

Razzoqov is known for his efforts to raise awareness of the use of children for cotton harvesting in his native Bukhara region in Uzbekistan’s southwest.

Ezgulik is the only officially registered human rights group in Uzbekistan.

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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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