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Russian authorities have launched investigations against an activist of Russia's Parnas opposition party, Natalya Pelevina.

The Russian Investigative Committee's spokesman, Vladimir Markin, said on March 11 that investigators had found documents in Pelevina's house proving she received $35,000 from the U.S.-based National Endowment for Democracy (NED).

According to Markin, the money was used "to discredit law enforcement agencies that investigated the mass disturbances on Bolotnaya Square on May 6, 2012."

The protest on Bolotnaya Square called for greater democracy in Russia on the eve of Putin's inauguration for a third term as president.

Russian authorities declared the NED as "undesirable" in July under a law that Moscow says is needed to prevent foreign organizations from being used to undermine Russian security. The NED is largely funded by the U.S. Congress.

The Parnas party, led by former Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov, openly positions itself as the Kremlin’s opponent.

Its co-chairman, Russia's former Deputy Prime Minister Boris Nemtsov, was shot dead near the Kremlin on February 27, 2015.

Based on reporting by rapsinews.ru and Interfax

The UN special rapporteur on the right to freedom of opinion and expression has expressed "grave" concern over the situation faced by civil-society groups, independent media, and political opposition in Tajikistan.

In his March 10 statement, David Kayle cautioned about "the widespread blocking of websites and networks, including mobile services, by the Tajik authorities."

Kayle voiced concern over the recent ban of the Islamic Renaissance Party of Tajikistan, prosecution of its leaders in secret trials, and attacks on members of Group 24 and other independent politicians.

Kayle urged the Tajik authorities to release all persons detained on political grounds and ensure due process and a fair trial for those charged with serious crimes.

Kayle is to prepare a report to the UN Human Rights Council on his main findings from a recent official visit to Tajikistan.

He will also make recommendations on how to better promote the right to freedom of expression in Tajikistan.

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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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