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Belarusian opposition lawyer Lyudmila Kazak

MINSK -- A lawyer representing a top opposition activist in Belarus has been freed after a court imposed a fine against her on September 25, a day after she was detained by police.

Meanwhile, three journalists who have covered weeks of mass protests against the country's longtime authoritarian ruler have each been sentenced to about two weeks in jail.

The lawyer, Lyudmila Kazak, went missing on September 24 before police confirmed later in the day that she had been arrested. She was found guilty of "failing to obey police" and fined about $260.

Kazak has defended Maryya Kalesnikava, a key member of a council Belarus's political opposition set up to push for a new presidential election in the wake of the disputed August 9 vote that officials said had given Alyaksandr Lukashenka a sixth term in office.

The opposition and some poll workers claim that the results were falsified.

Kalesnikava is facing charges of undermining state security and could be sentenced to up to five years in prison if she is convicted.

Kazak had relayed several messages to the public that Kalesnikava sent from jail -- including calls for protesters to continue anti-Lukashenka protests as well as allegations that law enforcement officers threatened to kill Kalesnikava.

"Freedom is worth fighting for. Do not be afraid to be free," one of Kalesnikava's messages said. "I do not regret anything and would do the same again."

Kalesnikava has said Belarusian security forces drove her to the border with Ukraine to try to make her leave the country, but she tore up her passport.

Meanwhile, two journalists with the Polish-funded Belsat TV channel that covers Belarus were sentenced on September 25 to 12 days in jail and each fined about $310. They were charged with working without accreditation.

A Belarusian video journalist was also sentenced on September 25 to 15 days for "involvement in mass disorder," according to the Belarusian Association of Journalists.

Hundreds of thousands of Belarusians have been protesting daily since official results announced from the presidential election gave Lukashenka about 80 percent of the vote.

With reporting by AP

Russian opposition figure Aleksei Navalny

Russian opposition politician Aleksei Navalny says he owes his life to the pilots who made an emergency landing when he collapsed on a flight last month, and to paramedics he said had quickly diagnosed poisoning and injected him with atropine.

Navalny made the remarks in a September 25 Instagram post from Germany where he is recovering from what European experts have determined was poisoning with a Novichok-like nerve agent.

"Thank you, unknown good-hearted friends. You are good people," the 44-year-old Navalny wrote about those who acted quickly and thwarted "the plans of the killers."

Navalny collapsed aboard a flight from Siberia to Moscow on August 20 and spent nearly three weeks in an induced coma.

After 48 hours in a hospital in Omsk, where Russian doctors said they found no trace of any poisoning, Navalny was transferred to Berlin's Charite hospital.

Doctors there found traces of a Soviet-style nerve agent from the Novichok chemical group in his body. Their findings were independently confirmed by laboratories in France and Sweden.

Navalny, a longtime critic of Russian President Vladimir Putin, was discharged from the Berlin hospital earlier this week.

Amid allegations from Navalny’s allies that Kremlin agents had poisoned him, the Russian government has resisted international pressure to launch a criminal investigation.

The Kremlin denies poisoning Navalny and says it has seen no evidence of poisoning. It is demanding that Germany, France, and Sweden share their findings.

On September 23, the Russian delegation to the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) sent a note to Germany requesting “comprehensive information on the so-called Navalny case," including "test results, biological materials, and other clinical samples."

German government spokeswoman Martina Fietz confirmed on September 25 that the German mission to the OPCW received the note. She said the German mission will respond in keeping with rules that provide for a 10-day deadline.

"But let me repeat again what we have said here repeatedly in the past: Russia already has everything necessary to be able to conduct investigations itself," Fietz said, adding that the OPCW has already taken samples.

'Happy Coincidences, Sharp Actions'

Doctors in Berlin have said that, based on Navalny’s progress so far, they think a "complete recovery is possible."

But Navalny has said it will be a long recovery process.

Navalny's spokeswoman Kira Yarmysh said on September 24 that his recovery could take weeks. Nevertheless, she said he plans to return to Russia at some point in the future.

In his September 25 Instagram post, Navalny said "a series of happy coincidences and sharp actions" by pilots and medical workers sabotaged what he described as "the plans of the killers."

"I would fall sick 20 minutes after takeoff, and in another 15 minutes lose consciousness. There was guaranteed to be no access to medical help and in another hour I would continue travelling in a black plastic bag on the last row of seats, scaring all passengers going to the bathroom," Navalny wrote.

"Everything that happened next was very dramatic and deserves a separate story, but there would have been nothing to tell if not for these guys," Navalny said.

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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