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Nasta Palazhanka after being released from KGB prison in Minsk on February 17.
MINSK -- The deputy head of the opposition Young Front movement has been released from a KGB pretrial detention center, RFE/RL's Belarus Service reports.

Youth Front Deputy Chairwoman Nasta Palazhanka was warned upon her release on February 17 not to leave Minsk before an investigation was completed into her case and she goes to trial.

Palazhanka and dozens of other opposition activists were charged with organizing mass unrest in Minsk on December 19 following the announcement of incumbent President Alyaksandr Lukashenka's runaway reelection.

She was the last woman facing charges in connection with those protests who was still in detention. Journalist Iryna Khalip has been placed under house arrest, and Natalya Radzina, editor of the opposition Charter 97 website, has been transferred from Minsk to her native town of Kobrin.

The first trial of an opposition activist on charges related to the postelection protests took place on February 17. The defendant, Vasil Parfyankou, was sentenced to four years in prison.

Video and photo report in Belarusian
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Nadir Mammadov
NAXCIVAN, Azerbaijan -- The interior minister of the Azerbaijani exclave of Naxcivan, Ahmad Ahmadov, has been accused of torturing a man who criticized police "tyranny" in the autonomous republic, RFE/RL's Azerbaijani Service reports.

Nadir Mammadov, 30, said he was taken by police late on February 15 to Ahmadov's office in the city of Naxcivan. He said Ahmadov began insulting him and asked Mammadov with which hand he wrote his complaint. Mammadov said Ahmadov then began pulling his fingernails out with pliers.

Mammadov said the minister ordered him to leave Naxcivan as "he did not deserve" to live there. Mammadov flew from Naxcivan to Baku on February 16.

Mammadov was an observer for an opposition candidate in a Naxcivan constituency during the November parliamentary elections. He attributes Ahmadov's attack on him to his condemnation of what he called vote falsification during the elections.

Ahmadov was called by RFE/RL to comment on Mammadov's claim, but he hung up immediately.

Azerbaijani Interior Ministry spokesman Orkhan Mansurzadeh dismissed Mammadov's claims about Ahmadov as "nonsense."

He said no one named Mammadov had recently visited the Naxcivan Interior Ministry. "Such a campaign is aimed at damaging the Interior Ministry's lofty image and reputation among the population," Mansurzadeh said.

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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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