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ASTANA -- Human rights activists and journalists from Kazakhstan and other countries are urging OSCE member states to "increase the efficiency of [their] dialogue" with Kazakh officials about human rights in Kazakhstan, RFE/RL's Kazakh Service reports.

In an open letter issued today, the activists expressed their concern about the situation faced by independent journalists, rights activists, opposition political figures, and religious minorities in Kazakhstan. They say Kazakh authorities have increased "repression against activists and journalists."

Some 80 human rights activists and journalists based in Armenia, Azerbaijan, Canada, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, Kazakhstan, Poland, Ukraine, and Uzbekistan signed the letter.

The letter also asks Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) members to pressure Kazakh authorities to guarantee media freedom and to release jailed independent journalist Ramazan Esergepov, rights activist Yevgeny Zhovtis, former uranium company director Mukhtar Dzhakishev, and opposition activist Yermek Narymbaev.

Kazakhstan is the chairman of the OSCE for 2010.

An OSCE summit that will include the leaders of most member states will be held in Astana from December 1-2.

Read more in Russian here.
The 37-year-old lawyer Sergei Magnitsky died in November 2009, after a year of pretrial detention.
MOSCOW -- A European Parliament committee has unanimously approved a motion for sanctions to be imposed upon Russian officials deemed to be responsible for the prison death of lawyer Sergei Magnitsky, RFE/RL's Russian Service reports.

The parliament's International Affairs Committee on November 23 proposed sanctions that entail a ban on travel to the European Union and the seizure of property abroad for anyone considered by Magnitsky's former colleagues to be connected with his death.

Magnitsky, an attorney for the investment firm Hermitage Capital, died one year ago in pretrial detention. According to officials he died as a result of heart failure.

Human rights activists and his former colleagues say he died because he was refused access to medical care.

European Parliament President Jerzy Buzek told RFE/RL that he and his colleagues believe Magnitsky was fighting corruption in Russia and paid a price for that. He said Magnitsky's death should be thoroughly investigated and anyone responsible for his death should face trial.

The motion for sanctions on Russian officials is scheduled to be discussed at the European Parliament's general session next month.

Read more in Russian here.

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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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