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Nasrin Sotoudeh (left) and Jafar Panahi
Iran has criticized the European Parliament for awarding a human rights prize to two Iranian dissidents.

The European Parliament in October awarded the 2012 Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought to human rights lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh and filmmaker Jafar Panahi, citing their courage in defending fundamental liberties in the face of oppression by the Iranian regime.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast was quoted on December 16 as accusing the EU of having "political" goals in giving the prize to Iranians.

Mehmanparast accused the EU of having a "selective" view of human rights, saying the bloc should focus on rights shortcomings inside the EU.

Sotoudeh is serving a six-year jail sentence for spreading propaganda and conspiring against state security.

Panahi has been held under house arrest since December 2010 on charges of engaging in antigovernment propaganda.

Based on reporting by Reuters and AFP
Blogger and opposition figure Aleksei Navalny
Russian authorities have launched a new criminal investigation against opposition figure Aleksei Navalny.

The federal Investigative Committee said December 14 that Navalny and his brother Oleg were being investigated over the alleged theft of $1.79 million by a trading company with which they are involved.

Navalny, an anticorruption blogger who has organized protests over the past year against President Vladimir Putin, already faces charges of theft that he says are politically motivated.

The Investigative Committee's announcement comes a day before the opposition is due to stage an anti-Putin march in Moscow.

Navalny reacted to the announcement by saying on Twitter: "I'm not enough for them, they are now after my family."

He said that the apartments of his brother and his parents were being searched.

Navalny faces up to 10 years in jail if found guilty of the earlier charges.

Based on reporting by Interfax, ITAR-TASS, and Reuters

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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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