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Thomas Hammarberg
The Council of Europe's human rights commissioner, Thomas Hammarberg, says he remains "skeptical" about the charges against seven Armenian opposition leaders who were arrested and jailed for planning a coup d'etat last year.

Hammarberg told RFE/RL's Armenian Service that he has not heard "any convincing arguments" that the seven planned to overthrow the government.

The trial of the seven activists began recently but has been postponed several times because they refuse to stand when the judge enters the courtroom.

They were arrested in March after opposition protests against what they called "fraudulent elections" turned violent.

There are some 60 opposition activists jailed in Armenia.

The Council of Europe's Parliamentary Assembly (PACE) decided on January 27 not to suspend the Armenian delegation's voting rights in the parliament because of Yerevan's pledge to change two articles of its criminal code that Hammarberg said "invite human rights violations."
Uladzimer Makey
The chief of the Presidential Office of Belarus, Uladzimer Makey, has been named to run the country's Consultative Council for Human Rights, which was established earlier this week, RFE/RL's Belarusian Service reports.

The presidential press service told journalists that the council, under Makey's leadership, will work to deepen Belarus's involvement in international processes and bodies dealing with human rights.

The council's staff includes representatives of various political parties and nongovernmental organizations.

The chief of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe's office in Minsk, Hans-Jochen Schmidt, told journalists that the OSCE supports the Belarusian authorities' decision to create the human rights council.

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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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