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Authorties in Kyrgyzstan have arrested 11 people on suspicion of bride-snatching, an offense that was rarely prosecuted in the past.

Bishkek city police said on November 20 that six men were arrested on the basis of a complaint by a 40-year-old woman in the capital who accused them of abducting her sister for a forced marriage.

Also on November 20, officials in the northern city of Tokmok said that five local residents had been arrested for allegedly abducting an 18-year-old woman for a forced marriage.

Rights activists say about 12,000 Kyrgyz women and girls are kidnapped and forced into marriage every year.

In 2012, the government launched a campaign against the traditional practice and increased the potential punishment to 10 years in prison.

Some 20 probes into cases related to bride-snatching were launched in Kyrgyzstan last year.

A Belarusian activist has been charged with distribution of pornography via the Internet in what colleagues said was a politically motivated case.

Minsk-based human rights center Vyasna (Spring) said on November 18 that a member of the opposition Malady Front (Youth Front) movement, Andrey Tychyna, was charged after investigators said that a video clip that was based on a popular rock group's song and placed on Tychyna's social-network account "carried elements of pornography."

Tychyna's colleague, Alyaksey Valabuyeu, told RFE/RL that the charge was politically motivated.

He said police were looking for ways to target Tychyna after a search of his apartment in the central city of Salihorsk in September.

Before the search, police summoned Tychyna and questioned him about the appearance in downtown Salihorsk of a 15-meter-long historic national flag.

The white-red-white flag is banned in Belarus, whose longtime president, Alyaksandr Lukashenka, displays nostalgia for the Soviet Union.

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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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