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Lukpan Akhmedyarov
International rights watchdog Reporters Without Borders (RSF) has condemned a Kazakh court's decision to financially punish an opposition journalist in a controversial libel case.

In a statement, the organization called the court's July 20 ruling a move "to strangle the journalist financially."

Lukpan Akhmedyarov was found guilty of insulting a local official in West Kazakhstan Oblast and ordered to pay the official 5 million tenge ($33,000).

In April, Akhmedyarov, a correspondent for the "Uralskaya nedelya" weekly in the western city of Oral, survived a vicious attack in which he was stabbed and shot with a pneumatic pistol.

Akhmedyarov says both the lawsuit and the attack against him are politically motivated.
Paramedics carry the injured Akhemdyarov into a hospital in Oral on April 19.
Paramedics carry the injured Akhemdyarov into a hospital in Oral on April 19.
The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) has called on Tajikistan to unblock the video-sharing website YouTube and ensure the free flow of information.

Local media reported that Tajikistan's state-run communication service asked Internet providers on July 26 to block access to YouTube.

The OSCE representative on freedom of the media, Dunja Mijatovic, said in a statement that "only courts should be allowed to decide whether websites can be blocked, not authorities."

She said blocking deprives citizens of their right to know, to receive, and impart information about development in their own country."

Mijatovic welcomed Dushanbe's move to restore access to the Asia Plus independent news agency, after blocking the site on July 23.

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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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