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Kyrgyz President Kurmanbek Bakiev
Kyrgyz President Kurmanbek Bakiev has signed a controversial bill on the activities and registration of religious groups, RFE/RL's Kyrgyz Service reports.

The legislation has been criticized by international human rights groups, who believe it would restrict the activities of religious organizations.

The law increases the number of people needed to officially register a religious organization from 10 people to 200 people, bans children from being involved in religious organizations, and prohibits people from proselytizing.

It also forbids the distribution of religious materials in public places, children's institutions, schools, and people from giving out such materials from house to house.

The new law includes new rules for the registration and annulment of religious organizations.

The legislation was supported by the Muslim Spiritual Council and the Russian Orthodox Church in Kyrgyzstan, but was criticized by many Kyrgyz and international organizations concerned with human rights.
Esha Momeni
Iran has renewed a travel ban on an Iranian-American student who was detained last year on security-related charges but later freed on bail, the judiciary has said.

Esha Momeni was detained in mid-October during a visit to Iran from the United States to see family and carry out research on the women's movement. She was freed on November 10 after spending almost four weeks in a Tehran prison.

Judiciary spokesman Alireza Jamshidi, who late last year said he saw no obstacle to Momeni leaving Iran, said she had been banned again from departing because of a new charge against her that was being investigated. He did not give details.

Read the full story here.

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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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