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Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan (file photo)

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has signed a bill into law that lifts the parliamentary immunity of lawmakers.

The law paves the way for the prosecution of pro-Kurdish lawmakers and other legislators who oppose Erdogan's government.

The legislation was proposed by Erdogan's ruling Justice and Development Party after Erdogan accused deputies from a pro-Kurdish party -- the People's Democratic Party (HDP) -- of being an arm of outlawed Kurdish rebels.

Erdogan has repeatedly called for the prosecution of those lawmakers on terrorism-related charges.

The vote has been criticized by officials in Germany and the European Union.

It also has been condemned by Turkish opposition lawmakers, who have vowed to fight against it.

The HDP backs Kurdish and other minority rights. It denies the accusations that it is the political arm of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK).

With support from 376 deputies in Turkey's 550-seat parliament, a May 20 vote in favor of the government-backed bill was enough to avoid a public referendum.

Based on reporting by Reuters, AP, and AFP

MINSK -- Belarusian authorities have started a fresh investigation into a high-profile attack that led to the death of an openly gay man.

Relatives of Mikhail Pishcheuski told RFE/RL on June 7 that investigators in Minsk informed them that they are now officially considered victims in the case.

The 34-year-old Pishcheuski, who was openly gay, sustained critical injuries to his head -- including a broken skull and internal hemorrhaging of his brain -- when he was attacked in May 2014.

Doctors removed about 20 percent of his brain in an attempt to save him, but Pischeuski never recovered from his injuries.

He died on October 27, 2015.

In January, 2015, Minsk resident Dzmitry Lukashevich was convicted and sentenced to two years and eight months in prison for "inflicting grievous bodily harm through negligence."

Prosecutors at the time refused to press hate-crime charges against Lukashevich, and he was released from prison in August 2015 -- before Pischeuski's death -- as part of a nationwide amnesty decree by President Alyaksandr Lukashenka.

Investigators told Pischeuski's relatives that the new investigation was launched at the request of the Minsk city prosecutor because Pishcheuski had died.

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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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