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Russian Rights Activist Given Suspended Sentence

3 February 2006 -- A Russian court today handed a two-year suspended sentence to a journalist and an activist who has campaigned against rights abuses in Chechnya.

Stanislav Dmitriyevsky, the head of the Russian-Chechen Friendship Society in Nizhny Novgorod, said the trial was part of a state assault on civil society.

The case against Dmitriyevsky was centered on two publications by the group's newspaper "Pravozashchita" (Rights Defense), which published statements by Chechen separatist leaders Aslan Maskhadov and Akhmed Zakayev in March 2005.

In the published statement then Chechen rebel leader Maskhadov urged the international community to help end the war in Chechnya. Maskhadov's envoy, Zakayev, called on Russians not to vote for President Vladimir Putin and thus help end the conflict.