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Controversial Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov

Chechen Republic head Ramzan Kadyrov has said Russian opposition activists should be considered "enemies of the people and traitors.”

According to a statement issued by Kadyrov's office late on January 12, the Kremlin-backed leader said the liberal opposition was trying to exploit Russia's economic difficulties to destabilize the country.

“They should be put on trial, with maximum severity, for sabotage," he said.

The statement drew criticism from rights activists and opposition figures, including Mikhail Kasyanov, a former prime minister who is now an opposition politician.

“From Soviet history it is widely known that in Stalin's time that is what they called anyone who thought differently ... and that such people were liquidated," Kasyanov said.

Russia’s opposition has come under increased pressure since the mass protests in Moscow that accompanied President Vladimir Putin's return to the presidency in 2012.

Based on reporting by AP and Reuters

The Council of Europe says Georgia has made some progress in overhauling its justice system, but expressed concerns that the authorities may be abusing the law to target the opposition.

In a report, Nils Muiznieks, human rights commissioner for the Council of Europe, said long-standing structural problems needed serious attention, in particular the independence of the judiciary.

"The commissioner is concerned about allegations of politically motivated measures targeting members of the opposition, especially with regard to the use of pretrial-detention measures against them," he said.

Dozens of former officials who served ex-President Mikheil Saakashvili, including a former prime minister, have been arrested on charges such as abuse of power and corruption since Saakashvili's government lost power in 2012.

Wanted in Georgia on charges he abused his authority, Saakashvili currently lives in Ukraine, where he is the governor of the Odesa region.

Based on reporting by Reuters

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