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Local residents had held a number of protests, saying Ilya Farber was framed by corrupt officials and construction companies. Farber denied any wrongdoing.
TVER, Russia -- A Russian art teacher whose imprisonment sparked protests has been freed following the intervention of President Vladimir Putin.

Moscow artist Ilya Farber, who had been living in a village in Russia's western Tver Oblast since 2010, was found guilty of bribery in 2011 in a case related to the repairs of the local culture house.

He was sentenced to eight years in jail.

Local residents had held a number of protests, saying Farber was framed by corrupt officials and construction companies. Farber denied any wrongdoing.

In the wake of the protests, a local court lowered Farber's sentence to seven years. Last month, Putin publicly called Farber's sentence "flagrant."

After that, a court in Tver revised the case and cut the jail term to three years.

Farber was granted early release from jail on December 31. The court's decision came into force on January 10.
Former Ura.ru editor in chief Oksana Panova leaves the court in Yekaterinburg on January 9.
YEKATERINBURG, Russia -- A Russian court in Yekaterinburg has imposed a 24-month work ban on a prominent journalist after finding her guilty of extortion.

Aksana Panova, founder and former editor of the independent news website Ura.ru, was found guilty of extortion in two instances and given a suspended two-year jail sentence.

Panova's supporters have argued that the charges were fabricated in retribution for her critical reporting on local government.

She had originally faced charges of fraud, extortion, and abuse of office that could have landed her in prison for up to 15 years.

However, on January 9 the court dropped the fraud and abuse charges.

Panova was also fined 400,000 rubles ($12,000).

Her lawyers said the decision was an attempt to silence Panova and added they would file an appeal.

With reporting by dpa

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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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