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The head of a Minsk-based group that advocates basic freedoms is facing deportation to Russia.

A court in Belarus said on November 5 that Yelena Tonkachyova, head of the Lawtrend Legal Transformation Center, must be deported by December 5 and banned from entering Belarus for three years.

Tonkachyova, a Russian citizen who has been living in Belarus since 1985, was informed on October 30 that her residence permit had been annulled.

Authorities said the decision was based on her violation of a traffic regulation.

Lawtrend promotes freedom of expression, freedom of association, and the right of access to information, justice, and a fair trial.

It has been operating in Minsk since 1996.

Tonkachyova has said she has no place to stay in Russia as all her relatives are Belarusian citizens.

Tajik President Emomali Rahmon says freedom of speech exists in his country because there are "hundreds" of private media outlets in Tajikistan.

At a ceremony for the Tajik Constitution's 20th anniversary in Dushanbe on November 5, Rahmon said Tajikistan has 307 private and 209 state-owned publications, 49 private and 19 state broadcasting outlets, as well as dozens of private news agencies.

Though nominally independent, most publications in Tajikistan refrain from reporting on political issues or exercise self-censorship regarding stories related to the government.

International rights monitor Freedom House reports that in 2013 "intimidation and violence against journalists persisted" in Tajkistan.

Meanwhile, Facebook, some Russian social networks, and several local and regional online news sites have been inaccessible in Tajikistan for several weeks and intermittently for the past several months.

Constitution Day will be marked on November 6.

With reporting by

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