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Journalists, opposition politicians, and representatives of nongovernmental organizations gathered in Almaty today to remember a prominent Kazakh journalist and his son, RFE/RL's Kazakh Service reports.

Batyrkhan Darimbet, who was well known for his articles critical of the government, died in 2005 in a suspicious car accident. He also worked as an RFE/RL correspondent in Kazakhstan from 1991-2002.

His son, Askar Darimbet, who was also an opposition journalist, died one year ago of health problems.

Participants in the commemoration ceremony said that journalists like the Darimbets are needed now more than ever in Kazakhstan, where independent media outlets find themselves under increasing pressure.
International human rights organizations are expressing concern over the fate of Elizaveta Drenicheva, who was jailed in Kazakhstan on January 9 for her missionary activities.

She was found guilty of propagating harmful religious teachings and sentenced to two years in jail.

She represented the Unification Church founded by Sun Myung Moon.

The secretary-general of the Eurasian Council of Peace, Vladimir Petrovsky, told RFE/RL today that Drenicheva has religious views similar to many other religions and that her organization has not been banned by Kazakhstan.

Human rights defenders consider Drenicheva a prisoner of conscience and have demanded her immediate release.

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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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