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Kyrgyz Ombudsman Tursunbek Akun
BISHKEK -- Kyrgyz Ombudsman Tursunbek Akun said in parliament on January 18 that the body of an inmate who died in a Bishkek detention center shows signs of violence, RFE/RL's Kyrgyz Service reports.

Nurbek Alimbaev, 25, was pronounced dead on January 17, one day after violent unrest in Bishkek's detention center No. 1 left dozens of inmates and some security officers wounded.

Kyrgyz security forces were brought inside the detention center to quell the unrest. More than 30 prisoners were severely beaten during the violence and four were transferred in serious condition to a health clinic at detention center No. 47.

Prison officials insist Alimbaev died of an illegal drug overdose.

Akun said in parliament that he was present at the autopsy performed on Alimbaev's body and saw that his head had bruises and his body had abrasions. He added that his sources told him Alimbaev was forcibly given an injection and fell asleep on January 16, the day of the unrest.

Akun said the "special operation held in the detention center was organized to frighten the inmates. ... It is important to preserve internal order in any penitentiary or detention center, but not in that way."

Meanwhile, State Penitentiary Service chief Sheishenbek Baizakov said in parliament on January 18 that the operation was carried out in accordance with all regulations and that Alimbaev had died of an overdose.

Baizakov also said that inmates in several of the country's penitentiaries have started hunger strikes.

Read more in Kyrgyz here
Ales Byalyatski, in the dock, and a lawyer at his trial in November
MINSK -- Millions of Belarusian rubles raised by supporters of a jailed Belarusian human rights activist have been wired to the state treasury to pay a court-ordered fine, RFE/RL's Belarus Service reports.

The Vyasna (Spring) human rights center in Minsk told RFE/RL on January 18 that a total of 804 million Belarusian rubles ($95,400) had been raised by supporters and friends of Ales Byalyatski and that 757.5 million Belarusian rubles had been wired on Byalyatski's behalf to the state treasury's account.

Activists at Vyasna say they hope that paying Byalyatski's debt -- as defined by a court in November -- will be a positive development for him during his appeal, which is scheduled to begin on January 24.

Byalyatski, the head of Vyasna, was found guilty of tax evasion and sentenced to 4 1/2 years in jail on November 24. Byalyatski pleaded not guilty and says the case against him is politically motivated.

The charges against Byalyatski stemmed from his reported use of personal bank accounts in Lithuania and Poland to receive funding from international donors for human rights activities in Belarus.

Byalyatski and his lawyer insist the money from the international donors was never used for his personal needs but expressly for human rights projects.

The Vyasna activists say the funds raised for Byalyatski's fine by his supporters does not mean they accept that he is guilty. They say the action was just an expression of solidarity with the jailed human rights activist.

Byalyatski's case proved a major embarrassment for both Poland and Lithuania, both of which apologized after it emerged that officials there had provided Belarusian authorities with banking information that led to the prosecution.

Read more in Belarusian 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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