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Ramazan Esergepov
The wife of an independent Kazakh journalist says her husband was taken away from his hospital room today by a group of state security officers.

Raushan Esergepova told RFE/RL's Kazakh Service that her husband, Ramazan Esergepov, editor in chief of the independent Almaty weekly "Alma-Ata Info," was detained by masked officers with machine guns.

Esergepov has been treated for heart problems since early December, after Kazakh National Security Committee (KNB) officers tried to force him to go to the southern city of Taraz for questioning regarding a November article concerning corruption allegations that officials say revealed state secrets.

The KNB officially confirmed Esergepov's arrest and said he is now in Taraz, where they say his status in the case has been changed from witness to suspect.

Before his hospitalization, Esergepov had sought asylum at a U.S. Embassy representative office in Almaty. He agreed to leave the U.S. Embassy office after Kazakh authorities assured him and U.S. officials that he would be treated in accordance with Kazakh law.
Authorities in Azerbaijan have threatened to commit a 72-year-old man, Ismayil Huseynov, and his wife, Khanimzar, to a psychiatric hospital after protesting what they say was police violence, their son has told RFE/RL’s Azerbaijani Service.

The couple was objecting to police treatment of their son, Elvin, and other teenagers on December 26 after they were detained on suspicion of cutting the electricity to a facility where a government-organized holiday party was taking place.

Police released the teenagers the same day after reportedly beating them and shaving their heads.

The reincarnation of Soviet psychiatry is one more example of where the country is going now.
On December 27, parents in the Azerbaijani exclave of Naxcivan said they would renounce their Azerbaijani citizenship if the scare tactics continued.

The Huseynovs and other parents have since been taken to the Ministry of Internal Affairs in Naxcivan, where they have been interrogated and told to stop talking to the media. Police threatened to send them to a psychiatric hospital after they refused, Elvin Huseynov said.

Elvin was detained again today at a post office in the exclave as he was trying to send a telegram about police violence to the speaker of Naxcivan's parliament. Huseynov says police did not allow him to send the message.

Naxcivan's Ministry of Internal Affairs has refused to comment on the issue.

Political analyst Ilgar Mammadov told RFE/RL that the case reminds him of the Soviet practice of forced "treatment" in psychiatric hospitals, which was widely used as a mean of silencing opponents.

"The reincarnation of Soviet psychiatry is one more example of where the country is going now," he said.

A similar incident happened in Naxcivan in 2007, when 71-year-old opposition activist Alasgar Ismayilov was committed after he sent a letter to President Ilham Aliyev about rights violations.

(by Malahat Nasibova of RFE/RL's Azerbaijani 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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