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Lukpan Akhemdyarov is taken to a hospital after being stabbed and shot on April 19.
ORAL, Kazakhstan – A Kazakh journalist who sustained serious injuries in a recent assault went on trial in absentia on April 27 in a libel case.

Lukpan Akhmedyarov, a correspondent for the "Uralskaya nedelya" weekly in the western city of Oral, was stabbed and shot with a pneumatic pistol on April 19.

He received a subpoena to attend the trial from hospital but was unable to do so due to his health condition.

A top official in the West Kazakhstan Oblast, Tilekqabyl Imashev, has filed a lawsuit against Akhmedyarov. Imashev is demanding financial compensation from the journalist, alleging he “hurt his dignity and honor” in one of his articles.

Akhmedyarov says both the lawsuit and the attack against him are politically motivated.
Farida Shaheed, the UN special rapporteur in the field of cultural rights
The United Nations' special rapporteur on cultural rights has called on Russia to better protect the diversity of its citizens and their ability to participate in cultural life.

Farida Shaheed, who on April 26 completed her first visit to Russia, told RFE/RL that Moscow must ensure that "conditions always exist for people to continuously create their culture."

In a statement, she said she was "disturbed" by reports of artists being persecuted by the authorities for challenging dominant religious symbols and values.

Shaheed also said more should be done to ensure Russian history is interpreted in a "multifaceted" way.

She also called for "urgent" consultations that include local communities on a plan to build a natural-gas pipeline over the Ukok Plateau in the Altai region, which is part of a UNESCO World Heritage site.

Shaheed's 12-day visit to Russia took her to Moscow, St. Petersburg, the Altai region, and Tatarstan.

Written by Richard Solash, with RFE/RL's Tatar-Bashkir 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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