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Vitaliy Portnikov (2012)
RFE/RL has condemned the harassment and intimidation of independent journalists in Ukraine, including a smear campaign targeting RFE/RL contributor Vitaliy Portnikov.

In December, a video containing intimate and illegally obtained images of the journalist appeared on the Internet.

His Kyiv apartment was also picketed last week by some 50 protesters who carried threatening posters and accused Portnikov of "immoral behavior."

RFE/RL President Kevin Klose called the actions "an orchestrated effort to discredit independent, professional journalists, reminiscent of the most reprehensible tactics of Soviet times."

Portnikov is a prominent Ukrainian journalist who heads the TVi channel.

He began working with RFE/RL's Ukrainian Service in the early 1990s.

He is a member of the public committee of Euromaidan, the organizing body of pro-EU demonstrations that emerged after President Viktor Yanukovych rejected an agreement on closer ties with the European Union in November.
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.

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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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