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Russia lawyer Ivan Zhdanov (file photo)

Russian authorities have detained the lawyer of jailed opposition politician Aleksei Navalny’s Anticorruption Center in Moscow over nationwide protests against President Vladimir Putin, after two other Navalny aides were jailed on similar charges earlier this week.

Police officers detained Navalny's lawyer Ivan Zdhanov outside his office on May 24, the head of Navalny’s Moscow headquarters Leonid Volkov said on Twitter.

Zhdanov faces 10 days in jail for calling for unsanctioned protests on social media, Volkov also wrote, adding, "They have found yet another 'organizer of a rally through a retweet'. It seems they have decided to lock everyone up."

The detention comes a day after a Moscow court ordered Navalny’s press secretary Kira Yarmysh to be jailed for 25 days.

Tweeting from the Tver district court, Yarmysh said the sentencing was based on a tweet.

"25 days is nonsense, when you know that you are right with so many people," she wrote after her sentencing. "Farewell, see you on appeal."

And on May 22, the host of Navalny’s YouTube channel, Ruslan Shaveddinov, was sentenced to 30 days in jail.

"Thirty days," Shaveddinov wrote on Twitter. "I will continue to encourage you to participate in the struggle for the future of our country."

On May 15, Navalny himself was ordered jailed for 30 days for what the judges said was violating regulations for organizing public gatherings. The anticorruption campaigner called the accusations against him "ridiculous."

On May 23, a Moscow court rejected an appeal by Navalny against the sentence.

The vocal Putin foe was one of hundreds of people apprehended on May 5 in Moscow and more than 1,600 people detained nationwide during protests ahead of Putin's upcoming inauguration to a new six-year term.

Navalny already served several jail terms on charges related to organizing antigovernment protests, and was convicted twice on financial-crimes charges that he and government critics say were trumped up by the Kremlin as retribution for his opposition to Putin.

Navalny was barred from taking part in the March 18 presidential election because of the convictions that he and his supporters say were fabricated to keep him out of electoral politics.

Putin, who has been president or prime minister since 1999, was sworn in for a new six-year term on May 7 after a landslide victory in the election.

The vote was marred by allegations of fraud and what international observers said was a lack of a genuine choice.

With reporting by AFP
Iranian President Hassan Rohani has promised a more open Iran.

The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) says “little has changed” for the press in Iran despite promises of reform by President Hassan Rohani, citing a “climate of fear through harassment and surveillance.”

The current international focus on Iran and its economic ties with Europe could “represent an opening to engage with the country over press freedom and other lapsed human rights,” the New York-based media watchdog said in a report released on May 24.

Journalists in Iran told CPJ that they have “increased latitude to report on social issues, largely thanks to the combination of smartphones, increased Internet bandwidth, and apps such as Telegram,” the report said.

But these efforts are met with “increasing pressure” for regulation as hard-liners “move aggressively to control the online space, and journalists using the platforms are at risk of surveillance," it also found.

Some subjects remain “completely off-limits,” such as the powerful Guardians Council, the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps, and the judiciary, according to the report.

“The ongoing, systematic threats journalists face covering Iran must be addressed if the country is serious about improving its record,” CPJ Middle East and North Africa Program Coordinator Sherif Mansour said in a statement.

Rohani, who sought reelection last year on the promise of a more open Iran, “needs to be held to the press freedom commitments he made, and these fundamental rights should be a priority as the international community negotiates with Iran,” Mansour added.

CPJ said journalists in Iran are “still recovering” from a government crackdown after the disputed 2009 election, during which the group documented 52 journalists jailed in retaliation for their work.

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