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ALMATY, Kazakhstan -- Police in Almaty have confiscated the latest issue of the opposition weekly "Golos Respubliki" (Voice of the Republic), RFE/RL's Kazakh Service reports.

Newspaper spokesman Sergei Zelepukhin told journalists that police stopped the paper's delivery vehicle late on January 13 with thousands of copies of this week's issue.

He said the driver and accompanying staff members were taken to a police station, where they were told they had been detained on suspicion of spreading false information. The individuals were later released, but the newspapers were confiscated.

Zelepukhin said the issue contained articles criticizing the proposed national referendum on prolonging President Nursultan Nazarbaev's term in office until 2020.

The upper and lower chambers of parliament voted today in favor of holding the referendum. A yes vote could allow Nazarbaev to bypass the presidential election due in 2012.

"Golos Respubliki" journalist Oksana Makushina told a press conference in Almaty that just 3,000 copies of the total print-run of 19,000 made their way to newsstands in Almaty.

Read in Kazakh here
Erkinbek Alymbekov, deputy head of Ata Meken party, wants police to investigate the attackers' motives.
BISHKEK -- A Kyrgyz lawmaker claims that an active member of his opposition Ata-Meken (Homeland) party was severely beaten in northern Kyrgyzstan, RFE/RL's Kyrgyz Service reports.

Erkinbek Alymbekov, a member of Ata-Meken's parliamentary group, told fellow lawmakers that a female member of the party in the Tong district of Issyk-Kul Oblast was attacked by several men and severely beaten.

Alymbekov asked police to investigate the attack to determine whether it was politically motivated.

Ata-Meken is one of the five political parties that won parliamentary representation in the elections held in October. The party has18 of the 120 seats and is not represented in the current coalition government.

Read in Kyrgyz 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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