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STRASBOURG -- A Russian journalist won a lawsuit against a Russian official at the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg today, RFE/RL's Russian Service reports.

The court ruled that journalist Aleksandr Krutov should be paid 1,000 euros ($1,500) as compensation for moral damages in a defamation verdict that went against him and to cover court costs.

Krutov told RFE/RL that the court decision is a crucial precedent for journalists in Russia.

Krutov appealed to the Strasbourg court seeking the reversal of a verdict by a Russian court that he said violated his freedom of speech.

In January 2003, Krutov wrote an article in a local newspaper in which he stated that regional prosecutor Anatoly Bondar and his office were involved in a feud between elite groups in the western Russian city of Saratov and were receiving bribes in the process.

Bondar sued Krutov for defamation and won the case.

Krutov has been fighting in Russia to have the court's original decision overturned.

Bondar is currently the deputy director of the courts department at the Russian Supreme Court.
Musfiq Huseynov in custody in July 2007
Relatives of a jailed Azerbaijani journalist say they are worried about his deteriorating health, RFE/RL's Azerbaijani Service reports.

Musfiq Huseynov, a reporter with the opposition "Bizim Yol" (Our Path) newspaper, was jailed for six years in 2008 on bribery charges.

The sentence was later reduced to five years. Huseynov's relatives say the journalist is suffering from tuberculosis in jail and his health is getting worse.

"His temperature is 38 Celsius, it is not coming down. Musfiq says he is measuring his temperature 10 times a day," Huseynov's sister, Dilbar Qasimova, told RFE/RL. "His disease has entered the last medicine-resistant phase. We are very concerned that Musfiq may die."

Rafael Mehdiyev from the Justice Ministry told the Turan agency there was no reason for concern about Huseynov's health.

However, Qasimova said this was misinformation.

She said the treatment her brother was receiving in prison was making his condition worse, not better.

Huseynov's arrest in 2007 was aired on television in a clip purportedly showing him accepting a $3,500 bribe from a man identified as a government official.

Local and international rights groups say Huseynov and two other jailed journalists in Azerbaijan were imprisoned for their critical writings.

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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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