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Aron Atabek in a 2007 photo

Penitentiary authorities in Kazakhstan are denying reports from a rights group that says jailed dissident poet Aron Atabek has been tortured.

The warden of a detention center in the northern city of Pavlodar, Ernur Saspanov, told RFE/RL on November 14 that Atabek is "a too well-known individual to do anything illegal against him."

The Almaty-based nongovernmental organization Ar.Rukh.Khaq (Dignity, Spirit, Truth) said on November 10 that Atabek has been "tortured in custody."

It said guards have intentionally splashed water with a high concentration of chlorine on the floor of his cell, damaging his health.

Atabek, 61, was sentenced to 18 years in prison in 2007 after being convicted of helping organize protests that resulted in the death of a police officer.

He told relatives in July that guards had broken his leg.

Atabek has maintained his innocence. He rejected a 2012 government pardon offer that would have required him to admit guilt.

Valery Senderov

MOSCOW -- Well-known Soviet-era dissident and human rights activist Valery Senderov has died at the age of 69.

Senderov's friends say he unexpectedly died in his Moscow apartment on November 12. It is unclear what caused the death.

In 2012, Senderov was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease.

Senderov, a mathematician and philosopher, began his human rights activities in the late 1970s. He was arrested in 1982 and sentenced to seven years in jail and five years of exile for "anti-Soviet propaganda."

Senderov, along with many other dissidents, was released from jail in March 1987 amid Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev's perestroika policies.

After his release, Senderov actively participated in the creation of the Christian-Democratic movement in Russia.

With reporting by

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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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