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A trial begins on December 27 in Kazakhstan of a man suspected of beating and robbing a journalist in the northwestern city of Aqtobe.

The journalist died later in hospital.

Mirbolat Sultanov was apprehended in August, two days after a correspondent for the independent "Svoboda Slova" (Freedom of Speech) newspaper, Igor Larra, was severely beaten by several men.

Larra died in hospital in October of complications from gallbladder surgery.

His wife insists his death was directly linked to his beating.

Larra's relatives and colleagues say they believe the attack was connected to his professional activities.

Police say the incident was a robbery, adding that Larra was intoxicated at the time of the incident.

Human Rights Watch urged Kazakh officials in August to thoroughly investigate the incident.

-- RFE/RL's Kazakh Service
The offices of a well-known human rights organization in Kyrgyzstan have been robbed.

Representatives of the One World-Kyrgyzstan nongovernmental organization told RFE/RL on December 27 that burglars entered their offices in Bishkek overnight and stole computers, documents, video archives, and other items of value.

Police are investigating.

The organization was established by prominent Kyrgyz human rights defender Tolekan Ismailova and has lately been focusing on corruption among government officials.

-- RFE/RL's Kyrgyz Service

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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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RFE/RL journalists take risks, face threats, and make sacrifices every day in an effort to gather the news. Our "Journalists In Trouble" page recognizes their courage and conviction, and documents the high price that many have paid simply for doing their jobs. More