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BAKU -- Five Azerbaijani youths who were demonstrating in support of disabled people on the capital's sea-front promenade were detained this week by police, RFE/RL's Azerbaijani Service reports.

Police detained the activists on June 24 and held them at the police station for an hour. They also confiscated the demonstrators' banners, wheelchairs, and petition.

The demonstrators had asked passersby to sit in a wheelchair and try to cross the street, enter the metro, or go into a building. They were also collecting signatures for a petition they planned to send to city authorities.

Activist Sanubar Geydarli said the goal of the demonstration was "to show people what being disabled is really like" and bring attention to the plight of the handicapped in Baku.

Although the government has passed various laws intended to aid disabled people, there are almost no wheelchair ramps at building entrances or elevators at metro stations.
The trial of Nikalay Autukhovich, Uladzimir Asipenka, Alyaksndar Laryn, and Mikhail Kazlou in the Supreme Court in Minsk on May 6
MINSK -- Jailed businessman and opposition activist Mikalay Autukhovich has abandoned his hunger strike after Belarusian authorities discussed Autukhovich's health problems with him, RFE/RL's Belarus Service reports.

Prosecutor-General's Office spokesman Pyotr Kisyaleu told RFE/RL that the head of Belarus's Penalty Implementation Department's health care branch, Colonel Alyaksandr Kralko, met with Autukhovich on June 23.

Kisyaleu read what he said was a letter from Autukhovich stating that he met with Kralko and discussed his health problems. He also said it was decided that a special medical commission would study Autukhovich's dental problems and decide how to treat them.

Rights activist Vyachaslau Siuchyk told RFE/RL that Autukhovich has ended his hunger strike after meeting with Kralko. Autukhovich started the hunger strike on June 17, demanding dental care that he said prison officials refused to provide.

He and three co-defendants were convicted on May 6 on charges of illegal possession of weapons and ammunition. He was sentenced to five years and two months in jail.

The four were originally charged with preparing terrorist acts against officials in their native towns of Vaukavysk, Hrodna, and Minsk. Those charges were later dropped.

Autukhovich and his colleagues say the cases against them are politically motivated.

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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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