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Young Front activist Mikola Dzemidzenka
MINSK -- The deputy chairman of the unregistered Young Front political movement in Belarus, Mikola Dzemidzenka, has been sentenced to 12 days in jail for refusing to follow police instructions.

Dzemidzenka's wife told RFE/RL on August 30 that her husband was sentenced late on the previous day.

Police detained Dzemidzenka earlier on August 29 while he was on his way to a press conference held by the recently-released leader of the Young Front, Zmitser Dashkevich.

Dashkevich was released from prison in the western city of Hrodna on August 28 after serving almost three years in jail.

Dashkevich and fellow Youth Front activist Eduard Lobau were found guilty in March 2011 of assaulting two people in Minsk a day before the disputed presidential election in December 2010.

Lobau was sentenced to four years in prison. They say the charges against them were fabricated.
Khadija Ismayilova
BAKU -- The U.S. Embassy in Azerbaijan has criticized what it calls "disgusting personal attacks" against Khadija Ismayilova, an RFE/RL investigative journalist and talk-show host in Baku.

In a statement, the embassy urged Azerbaijan's government to complete "a legitimate investigation" into the intimidation, blackmail, and harassment of Ismayilova.

It said the "ongoing, targeted harassment" of Ismayilova was "appalling and must stop."

It also said a legitimate investigation would demonstrate "Azerbaijan is concerned about reporters' rights and safety, upholding the rule of law, and promoting an ethical and robust media environment" during the 2013 presidential election campaign.

Ismayilova has been the target of a personal smear campaign by pro-government media and websites in Azerbaijan since March 2012, shortly after her investigative reports exposed high-level government corruption in Baku.

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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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