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Russian comedian Karim Yamadayev

NABEREZHNYE CHELNY, Russia -- Police in Russia's Tatarstan have searched the home of a local civil rights activist after his Internet show mocked President Vladimir Putin, his spokesman Dmitry Peskov, and Igor Sechin, the powerful chief of Russian oil giant Rosneft.

Karim Yamadayev told RFE/RL on January 3 that police had just searched his home in the city of Naberezhnye Chelny.

The searches were linked to his comedy show, titled Judge Gramm, which he posted online in December, he said.

In one of these episodes, a person playing the role of a judge sentences to death two men whose heads are covered with black sacks with the inscriptions "Dmitry Peskov" and "Igor Sechin."

Another man in the show portrays a third defendant who also has his head covered with a black sack saying "Vladimir Putin."

The judge in the show says that Putin's trial "will take place in a week" during the next episode.

The video was accompanied with a text saying that the show was "the work of authors and actors united exclusively by artistic ideas and not seeking to propagate violence or incite hatred to any social group."

According to Yamadayev, police confiscated his computers, payment cards, and scripts for his show. After the search, he was taken to Investigative Committee headquarters in the city, where he was officially informed that he was suspected of insulting authorities, though he was not yet been charged.

In March last year, Yamadayev was sentenced to 28 days in jail for putting up a mock gravestone for President Putin in Naberezhnye Chelny.

Kazakh activist Serikbolsyn Abdildin ran for president in 1999. (file photo)

ALMATY, Kazakhstan -- Hundreds of people have bid farewell to Serikbolsyn Abdildin, a prominent Kazakh veteran opposition politician who died on New Year's Eve at the age of 82.

Human and civil rights activists, opposition politicians, and representatives of the city's administration attended a memorial for Abdildin, held at the Philharmonics House in Almaty on January 3.

The director of Kazakhstan's Bureau for Human Rights and Rule of Law, Yevgeny Zhovtis, told mourners at the ceremony that Abdildin was "an enormous figure who stood at the rise of Kazakhstan's independence."

"Serikbolsyn Abdildin is one of not so many politicians in our country who showed that politics may be fair and decent. That it is possible to be a politician without holding his grip on power to a limitless extent, such as by removing opponents. He was just a decent person and that, in our times, is significantly more than anything else," Zhovtis said.

Abdildin was a harsh critic and opponent of Kazakhstan’s first president, Nursultan Nazarbaev, accusing him of "usurping power," nepotism, and corruption.

Several years ago, Abdildin predicted that Nazarbaev might create a post for himself to control future presidents, and his forecast came true in 2019.

Nazarbaev, who ruled the oil-rich Central Asia nation for almost 30 years, suddenly resigned in March last year and handpicked his successor, incumbent Qasym-Zhomart Toqaev, who was inaugurated as Kazakhstan’s new president in June after an election that international observers said was marred by "widespread voting irregularities."

Nazarbaev, 79, continues to control social, economic, and political spheres by leading Nur-Otan, the ruling party, and the influential Security Council.

In 1999, Abdildin ran for president and came second behind Nazarbaev.

After the memorial ceremony, Abdildin was laid to rest at the Kensai-2 cemetery, where many of Almaty's most-prominent and famous citizens are buried.

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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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