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A Belarusian activist has been charged with distribution of pornography via the Internet in what colleagues said was a politically motivated case.

Minsk-based human rights center Vyasna (Spring) said on November 18 that a member of the opposition Malady Front (Youth Front) movement, Andrey Tychyna, was charged after investigators said that a video clip that was based on a popular rock group's song and placed on Tychyna's social-network account "carried elements of pornography."

Tychyna's colleague, Alyaksey Valabuyeu, told RFE/RL that the charge was politically motivated.

He said police were looking for ways to target Tychyna after a search of his apartment in the central city of Salihorsk in September.

Before the search, police summoned Tychyna and questioned him about the appearance in downtown Salihorsk of a 15-meter-long historic national flag.

The white-red-white flag is banned in Belarus, whose longtime president, Alyaksandr Lukashenka, displays nostalgia for the Soviet Union.

Nongovernmental organizations in Tajikistan are concerned over new legislation that restricts their access to foreign grants.

Participants at an international conference in Dushanbe said on November 18 that according to legal amendments recently adopted by aparliament, NGOs in the Central Asian nation will only be able to receive grants from foreign entities if they have apprival from the government.

The leader of the National Association of Independent Media in Tajikistan (NANSMIT), Nuriddin Karshiboev, said at the conference that the change would have substantial effects on the activity of NGOs and would probably force some of them to close.

The "Freedom of Speech in Tajikistan" conference was organized by the European Union and Tajik government.

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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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