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Dunja Mijatovic, OSCE representative on freedom of the media (file photo)
SKOPJE -- The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe's (OSCE) representative on freedom of the media, Dunja Mijatovic, has hailed Macedonia's recently adopted media laws.

Talking to journalists in Skopje on February 12, Mijatovic welcomed Macedonia's attention to the OSCE's recommendations but urged the government to implement the adopted laws to see real results.

Mijatovic said she discussed with Macedonian Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski the issue of defamation.

According to Mijatovic, the fines proposed by the law are too high and would likely affect media pluralism.

Mijatovic, who had been in Macedonia for three days, also met with journalist Tomislav Kezarovski, who was sentenced to 4 1/2 years in jail in October 2013 for revealing a witness's data in a high-profile criminal case and later transferred to house arrest.

Reporters Without Borders ranked Macedonia 123rd among 180 countries on its Press Freedom Index released on February 12.
A supporter holds a flyer showing jailed rights activist Ales Byalyatski in Minsk.
ASHMYANY, Belarus -- A court in the western Belarusian town of Ashmyany has ruled that 40 copies of a book authored by a prominent jailed human rights campaigner must be returned to Lithuania, where they were printed.

The judge explained her decision on February 11 by saying that it was her personal belief that the book -- titled "Enlightened by Belarusness" -- might negatively affect the country's political and social stability.

The book was written was Ales Byalyatski, the leader of the Vyasna (Spring) human rights center.

In June, Belarusian customs officers confiscated copies of the book as Byalyatski's colleagues were bringing them into Belarus from Lithuania.

Tatsyana Ravyaka of Vyasna filed a lawsuit, saying the move was illegal.

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

Amnesty International has declared Byalyatski a prisoner of conscience.

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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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