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A Russian parliamentary commission says German state-funded broadcaster Deutsche Welle violated the law with its coverage of protests this summer, and that lawmakers will continue to investigate other media outlets, including Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, on similar possible legal breaches.

Vasily Piskarev, chairman of the Commission on Foreign Interference in Russia’s Internal Affairs, said on September 27 that parliament will now ask the Foreign Ministry to consider revoking Deutsche Welle’s accreditation to operate in the country.

The case specifically noted that Deutsche Welle's Russian service wrote in a tweet on July 27 "Moscow Come Out!" which the commission said was an attempt to influence the internal affairs of Russia.

"While acting on the territory of Russia, Deutsche Welle has violated laws, many laws," Piskarev said.

"We decided that the designated bodies must provide a response to these violations," he added.

DW’s supervisory board rejected “any suggestion that DW interfered in the internal affairs” of Russia.

"After consulting with the director and making its own inquiries, the board has concluded that DW's reporting from Russia is irreproachable," it said in a statement, adding that it expects Russian authorities to let all its correspondents in Russia "report freely and without limitation."

RFE/RL President Jamie Fly said the Russian government "is blatantly attacking our colleagues in the foreign media who are doing their jobs as professional journalists to report on events of public interest."

"The Russian people have every right to access independent sources of information about events in their country and the Duma’s actions threaten to further deprive them of those rights," he said.

Russian police have been criticized for impeding journalists trying to cover a series of major Moscow protests since late July, with some reporters being detained and equipment damaged.

A Deutsche Welle correspondent, Sergei Dik, was briefly detained while covering a Moscow protest in late July.

The protests were against the refusal by officials to register opposition and independent candidates for Moscow city-council elections that took place on September 8.

Police violently dispersed several of the protests and more than 2,000 people were detained, drawing international condemnation.

Piskarev said the parliamentary investigation would also look into whether coverage by Britain's BBC and the U.S.-funded Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty had likewise breached Russian election law.

RFE/RL is funded by a grant from the U.S. Congress through the United States Agency for Global Media (USAGM) as a private grantee.

With reporting by Interfax and TASS
According to vendors, people in civilian clothes identifying themselves as law enforcement officials have been raiding the Namangan market and stopping bearded men since September 22. (file photo)

NAMANGAN, Uzbekistan -- Vendors at a marketplace in Uzbekistan's eastern city of Namangan say authorities have been forcing traders and market visitors to shave their beards.

According to the vendors, people in civilian clothes who have shown documents identifying them as law enforcement officials have been raiding the Chorsu agricultural market since September 22 and stopping bearded men.

The officials then took bearded men with them to police stations where they force them to shave. In some cases, they just warned the bearded men or told the market administration to "persuade " bearded vendors to shave off their beards.

The vendors complain that the Islamic religion does not allow men to shave off their beards.

Local authorities were not available for immediate comment.

The vendors' complaints come a month after police in Tashkent, the capital, came under fire for detaining dozens of men at a local market and shaving their beards before releasing them.

The Tashkent police responded to the criticism in late August, saying that for security reasons some men were asked to shave off the beards so that their faces resembled the photos on their biometric passports.

Since coming to power in 2016, President Shavkat Mirziyoev has taken modest steps to relax restrictions on religious freedom in the predominantly Muslim country of more than 30 million people.

But religion in Uzbekistan remains strictly regulated by authorities.

The government reportedly continues to bar the wearing of the Islamic hijab in schools and offices. A 1998 law prohibits the wearing of religious clothing in public, with the exception of religious figures.

There have also been frequent reports of police singling out men with long beards, a campaign presented by officials as an effort to combat radical Islam in Central Asia's most populous nation with deep Islamic roots and traditions.

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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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