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Russian police officers detain opposition leader Aleksei Navalny outside the detention center in Moscow on the morning of September 24.

Russian opposition leader Aleksei Navalny has been sentenced to 20 days in jail for organizing an opposition protest in a new court ruling on September 24, the day he was freed after spending a month behind bars, his spokeswoman said.

"Twenty days," Navalny's spokeswoman Kira Yarmysh said on Twitter, in reference to the 20 additional days he will spend behind bars for allegedly violating legislation restricting public gatherings.

Navalny's associate, Leonid Volkov, said that he was taken to a police station in Moscow as he walked out of a detention center on the morning of September 24.

"They opened the door – and put him on the bus immediately," Volkov tweeted.

German broadcaster Deutsche Welle's Russian service tweeted the video of the moment.

Navalny was taken to a Moscow police precinct and faces a hearing later in the day on an administrative charge of violating legislation on public gatherings in a way that causes damage to health or property, Yarmysh said on Twitter. He could be jailed for 20 days or fined up to 300,00 rubles ($4,500).

"The possible punishment under this article is up to 20 days, but of course this is a clear move toward fabricating a new criminal case," Volkov tweeted.

Amnesty International called Navalny "a prisoner of conscience [who] has not committed any crime."

"The Russian authorities must immediately and unconditionally release him, and fully respect his right to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly," Natalia Zviagina, director of the London-based rights group's office in Russia, said in a statement.

Navalny has been handed suspended prison sentences following guilty verdicts in two financial-crimes trials he and his supporters contend were Kremlin-orchestrated efforts to punish him for his opposition activity and for reports he has published alleging corruption among President Vladimir Putin's allies.

While the suspended sentences kept him out of prison, Navalny has repeatedly been arrested and jailed for what courts have ruled were administrative offenses.

According to Yarmysh, he has spent 172 days behind bars since 2011 and 120 days since the start of his attempt to campaign for the March 2018 presidential election. Electoral authorities barred him from the ballot, citing his controversial criminal convictions, and Putin won a fourth term in the election.

In August, Navalny was detained by police in Moscow and sentenced to 30 days in jail for helping to organize a street rally in the Russian capital in January. That punishment came under a different section of the same article in Russia's Administrative Violations Code.

That demonstration in Moscow, along with similar protests in other Russian cities, drew thousands of people dismayed by the prospect of six more years under Putin, who was first elected president in 2000 and secured a fourth term in a March 2018 vote.

Navalny has said his jail sentence was designed by the authorities to prevent him from leading protests against unpopular pension reforms across the country earlier this month.

More than 1,000 people were detained nationwide during those rallies.

A vocal foe of Putin, Navalny has organized large street protests on several occasions and published a series of reports alleging corruption in Russia's ruling elite.

The government's proposal to raise the retirement age has stoked widespread anger across the country and has undermined Putin’s popularity.

Lawmakers are currently preparing the draft legislation for a second reading in the lower house of parliament, the State Duma.

With reporting by DW
Muslim Uyghur children join the adults at a mosque for Friday Prayers in Urumqi in China's Xinjiang region.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo denounced the "awful abuses" of Muslim Uyghurs detained in Chinese reeducation camps and criticized what he said was a government crackdown on Christians in the country.

The comments on September 21 come after a recent UN report assailed China’s mass internment of Uyghurs under the pretext of preventing extremism in the western Xinjiang region.

"Hundreds of thousands and possibly millions of Uyghurs are held against their will in so-called reeducation camps where they're forced to endure severe political indoctrination and other awful abuses," Pompeo said in a speech on religious freedom.

Kazakhs Say Relatives Being Held In China At 'Reeducation Camps'
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Republican and Democratic members of Congress late last month called for sanctions on Chinese officials implicated in the internment of the minority.

Pompeo did not say whether the United States would move toward imposing such sanctions.

On September 10, New York-based Human Rights Watch (HRW) said China was carrying out a “mass, systematic campaign of human rights violations” against its mostly Muslim Uyghur minority population.

A Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman accused HRW of being "full of prejudice" against China and of distorting facts. He said measures in Xinjiang aim to "promote stability, development, unity, and livelihoods," while also cracking down on "ethnic separatism and violent terrorist criminal activities."

In his speech, Pompeo also expressed concerns about the fate of Christians in China, who he said had been subject to a government crackdown.

He said Beijing has been "closing churches, burning Bibles, and ordering followers to sign papers renouncing their faith."

Based on reporting by AFP

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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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