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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
Sergei Mokhnatkin (file photo)
MOSCOW -- A criminal case has been opened against noted Russian rights activist Sergei Mokhnatkin.

On January 2, a Moscow court sanctioned his detention for two months.

Mokhnatkin is accused of attacking a policeman in Moscow during a Strategy-31 protest on New Year's Eve.

Twenty-eight people were detained during the protest, which was held in support of Article 31 of the Russian Constitution, which guarantees the right of peaceful assembly.

All of those detained were released, except Mokhnatkin.

Mokhnatkin first came to prominence when he was detained during a protest in 2009 for attacking a police officer. He was sentenced to 2 1/2 years in prison.

Amnesty International recognized him as a prisoner of conscience.

He was pardoned by then-President Dmitry Medvedev in April 2012.

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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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