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Vadim Kuramshin
A prominent defender of inmates' rights in Kazakhstan, who is himself imprisoned, has been awarded with the 18th Ludovic-Trarieux International Human Rights Prize.

The prize committee announced on July 1 that the jury of 29 European lawyers had awarded the prize to Vadim Kuramshin.

The prize will be officially presented on December 5 in Paris.

Kuramshin was found guilty of extortion and sentenced to 12 years in prison in December 2012.

In August 2012, he had been sentenced to one year of limited movement on the same charges. After he participated in an OSCE conference in Europe, prosecutors ordered a retrial.

The Ludovic-Trarieux Human Rights Prize, created in 1984, is awarded each year to a lawyer for his or her contributions to the defense of human rights.

Nelson Mandela was the first recipient of the prize in 1985.
The scene outside the courtroom in Vitsebsk
VITSEBSK, Belarus -- An opposition activist in Belarus has been sentenced to 18 months in jail after being convicted of attempting to contact a foreign intelligence service.

Andrey Haydukou was sentenced on July 1 by the Vitsebsk Regional Court in western Belarus.

He was originally charged with high treason and espionage, but those charges were dropped during the trial, which was held behind closed doors.

Haydukou’s lawyer told journalists he will appeal the sentence.

The youth activist was arrested in November.

Belarus's KGB said he was detained while in possession of materials that might be of interest for foreign intelligence agencies.

The sentence did not specify which country's intelligence service Haydukou attempted to contact.

In 2010-11, he served as an aide to opposition presidential candidate Andrey Sannikau, who received political asylum in Britain last year.

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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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