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Monday 2 September 2019

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Indian national Kulbhushan Jadhav was arrested in Balochistan in 2016. (file photo)

Pakistan has granted consular access to a former Indian naval officer sentenced to death for spying in a case that has caused tensions between the two nuclear-armed neighbors.

The Foreign Ministry said it allowed an Indian diplomat in Islamabad to meet with imprisoned Kulbhushan Jadhav on September 2 in compliance with a July order from the International Court of Justice (ICJ).

The ICJ ruled that Pakistan had breached Jadhav's rights under the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations by not allowing Indian diplomats to visit him in jail or assist him during his trial at a military court.

A spokesman for the Indian Foreign Ministry said Jadhav "appeared to be under extreme pressure to parrot a false narrative to bolster Pakistan’s untenable claims."

Jadhav was arrested in March 2016 in Pakistan's southwestern province of Balochistan, the scene of a decades-long conflict between security forces and separatists. He was convicted of planning espionage and sabotage and sentenced to death, sparking outrage in India.

New Delhi has contested Pakistan's claim that Jadhav was a serving officer of India's navy and a spy.

Tensions have soared between the two countries in recent weeks following Prime Minister Narendra Modi's move last month to revoke the autonomy of its portion of the disputed Kashmir region.

Based on reporting by RFE/RL's Radio Mashaal, AP, AFP, Dawn, and dpa
Dmitry Prokazov and Olga Prokazova with one of their children. (file photo)

A court in Moscow has refused a prosecutor's request to deprive a couple of their parental rights and take their three children from them for bringing them to a protest rally.

The Nikulinsky district court denied the district prosecutor’s motion on September 2, rejecting claims that Pyotr and Yelena Khomsky should be denied their parental rights because they used their three daughters to avoid detention during a demonstration in August.

The couple and the three girls -- aged 3 months, 3 years, and 10 years -- were shown on state television channels during the August 3 rally.

Pyotr Khomsky was described as "a professional provocateur" and "a bodyguard of Aleksei Navalny," the Russian opposition politician and vocal Kremlin critic.

The case followed a similar move on August 6 in which the Moscow city prosecutor's office requested that Dmitry Prokazov and his wife, Olga Prokazova, have their parental rights removed for bringing their 1-year-old son to an unsanctioned rally in front of the Moscow mayor's office on July 27.

That move sparked harsh criticism among ordinary Muscovites and human rights organizations across Russia.

The Prokazovs were charged with putting a child in danger and violating parental duties.

Investigators said that the Prokazovs brought their son to a rally on July 27, where they handed the boy to an activist, Sergei Fomin, so that he could pass through a police cordon with the child in his arms to avoid arrest.

The couple said that Fomin is Olga Prokazova's cousin and their child's godfather and was helping them to take care of their son during the rally.

Fomin, who was charged with taking part in "mass riots," is currently being held in pretrial detention.

Several sanctioned and unsanctioned rallies have taken place in Moscow in recent weeks in which protesters have demanded that independent and opposition candidates be allowed to run in upcoming municipal elections.

Police detained more than 1,300 people at the July 27 demonstration to demand free municipal polls, and more than 1,000 people were detained during a similar rally in Moscow on August 3.

Dozens of protesters have since been fined or given jail sentences for organizing and participating in the unsanctioned rally.

Several others are facing criminal charges for taking part in "mass unrest" and allegedly assaulting police and are being kept in pretrial detention until at least September 27.

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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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