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This week's edition of the independent Kyrgyz newspaper "Zhany Ordo" has already sold out, but it may not be due to its popularity with readers.

Someone, it seems, bought all of the copies of "Zhany Ordo," en masse, before the public could get their hands on copies.

Deputy Editor in Chief Shekerbek Kalykov told RFE/RL's Kyrgyz Service that this week's issue includes an article about the robbery of the Osh regional customs chief.

The thieves reportedly stole a significant amount of cash -- estimated at tens of thousands of dollars -- as well as a quantity of gold.

The "Zhany Ordo" article raises the question of why the customs chief would have been in possession of such large quantities of cash and gold in the first place.

Kalykov suggests that someone who did not want the article to be read by the public may be responsible for having bought all of the copies of the newspaper this morning.
Mohammad Sadigh Kabudvand in 2007
An imprisoned Iranian rights activist and journalist, Mohammad Sadigh Kabudvand, is the latest recipient of a Hellman/Hammett grant, awarded by Human Rights Watch (HRW) to persecuted writers.

Kabudvand, the head of the Human Rights Organization of Kurdistan, is serving a 10-year sentence in Tehran's Evin prison.

Considered to be a prisoner of conscience, Kabudvand was sentenced in May 2008 for "acting against national security by establishing the Human Rights Organization of Kurdistan, widespread propaganda against the system by disseminating news, opposing Islamic penal laws by publicizing punishments such as stoning and executions, and advocating on behalf of political prisoners."

Already in poor health, Kabudvand suffered a heart attack in prison last month and is in urgent need of specialized medical care, which the authorities have refused.

Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East and North Africa director at Human Rights Watch, has said that Kabudvand’s experience is “harsh testimony to the plight of journalists, dissidents, and other peaceful critics in Iran today."

Each year, HRW awards Hellman/Hammett grants to writers punished by their governments for expressing opposition views, criticizing government officials or actions, or writing about topics that the government does not want reported.

The amount of Kabudvand's grant was not given.

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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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