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The Vyasna (Spring) human rights center in Belarus says police and the Committee for State Security (KGB) have detained several administrators of Belarusian opposition online communities.

Raman Pratasevich, Andrey Tkachyou, Syarhey Byaspaly, and Paval Yeutsikhiyeu were reported detained in Minsk, while Aleh Shramuk was arrested in the eastern city of Vitsebsk.

Vyasna and relatives of the young men said their apartments were searched and some of their computers were confiscated.

The administrators were held in custody for several hours, questioned regarding their online activities, and all but one of them released.

Yeutsikhiyeu and Tkachyou were sentenced to five and seven days in jail, respectively, for what was described as "minor hooliganism."
Vadim Kuramshin (file photo)
TARAZ, Kazakhstan -- Prominent Kazakh human rights activist Vadim Kuramshin has left a courtroom in the southern city of Taraz a free man.

Kuramshin, who has been involved in cases connected with the rights of inmates in Kazakhstan’s penitentiaries, was arrested in January and charged with fraud, extortion, and abuse of power.

Kuramshin told RFE/RL that the jury found him not guilty of fraud and extortion but guilty of abusing his "responsibilities" as a human rights defender.

The judge's sentence of one year of limited movement was annulled because of the seven months Kuramshin spent in detention during the investigation and trial.

Kuramshin has vowed to continue his activities to monitor and defend the rights of inmates.

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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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