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Journalist Gennady Pavlyuk
ALMATY, Kazakhstan -- Hearings have begun in Almaty in the appeal filed by three men convicted of killing Kyrgyz journalist Gennady Pavlyuk, RFE/RL's Kazakh Service reports.

In October, former Kyrgyz security service officer Aldayar Ismankulov was sentenced to 17 years in jail while Kazakh citizens Almas Igilikov and Shalqar Orazalin were sentenced to 10 and 11 years, respectively.

Pavlyuk died several days after being thrown from a tall building in Almaty in December 2009 with his arms and legs bound.

Ismankulov, Orazalin, and Igilikov were not present at the hearings, which were attended by the three men's relatives and lawyers. Pavlyuk's relatives and lawyers were also absent.

Igilikov's lawyer, Beisenali Orazov, said in court that his client is currently in an Almaty detention center's medical ward being treated for psychological problems. He asked Judge Kuplash Otemisova to order an additional examination of Igilikov to determine his mental state.

But the judge rejected the request saying "there is no ground to question the results of the previous medical examinations."

Orazalin's lawyer, Aigul Erbolekova, asked that journalists be allowed to record the process and take pictures in the the courtroom. Otemisova said she allowed journalists to be present at the hearings but cannot allow videoing or taking pictures in the courtroom as "the case is very serious and complicated."

The judge agreed to allow the three convicted men to be present at the next hearing and adjourned the process until January 25.

Pavlyuk, an ethnic Russian, was known in Kyrgyzstan under the pseudonym Rustam Ibragimbek.

Pavlyuk, 51, founded the "White Steamer" newspaper and website. He also wrote for the newspaper "Vecherny Bishkek" (Evening Bishkek) and the Russian weekly "Argumenty i fakty" (Arguments and Facts).

Pavlyuk's relatives and colleagues in Kyrgyzstan have alleged that his murder was politically motivated as he was working with the opposition against then-President Kurmanbek Bakiev and his government. He had also received death threats in the period before he was killed.

Read more in Kazakh here
Aleksei Kortnev performs at a benefit concert in May.
MOSCOW -- Russian human rights activists plan to hold a concert next month to raise money to support political prisoners after holding a "For Fair Elections" march in Moscow, RFE/RL's Russian Service reports.

Prominent Russian writer Viktor Shenderovich, veteran bard singer Yuly Kim, and pop musician Aleksei Kortnev will take part in a "For Your and Our Liberty!" concert in Moscow's Mir (Peace) concert hall on February 4 after the anti-Kremlin march.

A concert organizer, Mikhail Kriger, told RFE/RL that it would be the sixth such concert organized by Russian rights activists over the years. Kriger said the February concert will be a bit different than the others because the "political situation in the country is different."

"Not just several hundreds of people are demanding the release of political prisoners now, but tens of thousands," Kriger said. "The demand is explicitly shown in the resolutions of mass protests held on December 10 and 24. All money raised at the concert will be used to help political prisoners. How the donations are spent can be tracked on politzeky.ru."

Kortnev told RFE/RL that he agreed to take part in the upcoming concert because his "old friend" Shenderovich and the "legendary" singer Kim -- who he "adores as a man and as a poet" -- are taking part.

"There are very different people behind bars now," Kortnev said. "There are many among them whose political views I cannot agree with -- for instance, there are nationalists and national-Bolsheviks. But I will go and sing at the concert because I sincerely think that people should not be sent to jail because of their political views."

Kortnev said he is not against Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, who will be a candidate in the March 4 presidential election four years since last holding the post, but said he opposes "the absence of choice."

"In the current political situation no evolutionary changes are possible," Kortnev said. "In this situation no new political leader can arise and develop. We have only one choice: to refresh that atmosphere."

Tens of thousands of Russians protested in Moscow, St. Petersburg, and other cities and towns in December against alleged fraud in the parliamentary and general elections held on December 4.

Putin was barred by the constitution from a third consecutive term, but most observers continue to regard him as the country's unrivaled political leader and a favorite to win the March vote.

Read more in Russian 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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