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Moscow Protesters Decry Activist Daughter's Death
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MOSCOW -- Protesters have taken to the streets of several Russian cities in solidarity with an activist who had been refused permission to visit her sick daughter in the hospital until the girl was in a critical state.

Reports said at least nine participants had been detained during the February 10 Marches Of Maternal Anger held in Moscow and St. Petersburg, which were not sanctioned by the authorities.

Similar rallies and pickets were also held in Yekaterinburg, Yaroslavl, Oryol, Kazan, Makhachkala, Kirov, and Rostov-on-Don.

Moscow politician Yulia Galyamina, who organized the events, told RFE/RL's Russian Service: "Our system has reached such a stage that it is fighting against single mothers with multiple children, against children.”

Kremlin Loyalists Assault Human Rights Rally In Moscow
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Hundreds of people gathered in the Russian capital, chanting, "Freedom to political prisoners."

During the demonstration, scuffles erupted between protesters and members of a radical pro-Kremlin group, the South East Radical Block (SERB), who attempted to block the march.

Police detained two march participants -- including an activist of the Solidarnost (Solidarity) movement, Mikhail Kriger -- and SERB leader Gosha Tarasevich.

In St. Petersburg, police called on at least 150 people who had gathered for a similar march to disperse.

At least seven participants were detained after the crowd refused to comply, according to the nongovernmental organization Open Russia.

Anastasia Shevchenko from the southern city of Rostov-on-Don was placed under house arrest on January 23, awaiting trial, because of her work for Open Russia.

She is the first person to face criminal charges under a new law against "undesirable organizations" introduced in 2015.

On January 30, her 17-year-old daughter was transferred from the care home where she had lived into the intensive care unit of a local hospital after suffering cardiac failure.

Shevchenko requested that she be released to see her daughter, but she says she was not let go until late in the evening and reached the hospital only hours before her daughter passed away.

Her lawyer, Sergei Badamshin, has said that the hospital took a long time to issue confirmation that the teenager had been admitted.

Shevchenko has two other children.

"Many of my female friends who decided to go out to the streets with me this Sunday have the very same feeling: anger that we, too, have children and we, too, can be arrested at any moment,” Galyamina said.

“This is not only a question of being involved in politics. Anyone can be oppressed by the state or simply be harmed by the state, which meddles in people's lives instead of helping them," she added.

Federal Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry (above) said that Razi had been arrested for social-media postings that allegedly violated Pakistan's Prevention of Electronic Crimes Act. 

The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) has called on Pakistani authorities to release and drop all legal proceedings against television reporter Rizwan Razi, who is accused of making “defamatory” comments against the country’s authorities.

"Expressing opinions, even critical opinions, should not be a crime, in Pakistan or anywhere," the New York-based media watchdog’s Asia Program Coordinator Steven Butler said in a statement on February 9.

"Justice -- and Pakistan's constitutional guarantee of freedom of the press -- can only be served by Rizwan Razi's immediate release," Butler added.

Razi’s arrest comes as media workers and activists face unprecedented pressure from Pakistani authorities. Dozens of rights activists and journalists critical of authorities have been detained, arrested, or fled the country out of fear for their safety in recent years.

Razi -- a TV host for Din News, a privately owned Urdu-language news station -- was taken from his home and placed in custody in the eastern city of Lahore on the morning of February 9.

His son, Osama Razi, said that unknown men attacked his father and then dragged him into a car.

Federal Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry said that Razi had been arrested for social-media postings that allegedly violated Pakistan's Prevention of Electronic Crimes Act.

Razi was being investigated for alleged "defamatory and obnoxious posts" on his Twitter account against Pakistan’s "judiciary, government institutions, and intelligence agencies," according to the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA).

The agency also said that the journalist had "confessed" to uploading the posts, apologized, and promised to refrain from posting similar material in the future.

It was unclear what specifically led to Razi’s arrest.

Earlier this month, he criticized extrajudicial killings in Punjab Province at the hands of security forces, according to screenshots of Twitter postings provided to the CPJ, the media watchdog said.

The journalist’s Twitter account appeared to be offline on February 9.

Pakistan is ranked 139th out of 180 countries in RSF's 2018 World Press Freedom Index.

With reporting by AP and Reuters

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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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