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Zmitser Dashkevich
The leader of the unregistered Youth Front political movement in Belarus has been sentenced to 25 days in jail for violating his parole.

Zmitser Dashkevich told RFE/RL in the courtroom after his sentence was pronounced on April 25 that his incarceration is most likely connected with the Youth Front's anticipated presence at a commemoration of the 1986 Chornobyl disaster on April 26 and during next month's Ice Hockey World Championship in Minsk.

The Belarusian opposition has called for an international boycott of the tournament.

Dashkevich has been on parole since he was released from jail last August after serving more than 2 1/2 years for allegedly assaulting two people in December 2010. Dashkevich has called the case politically motivated.

His parole ends on April 28.

Dashkevich became the fifth opposition activist in Belarus to be incarcerated this week.
Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights Nils Muiznieks cited several cases where Azerbaijani journalists and bloggers critical of the authorities had been jailed, persecuted, or humiliated.
Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights Nils Muiznieks has harshly criticized Azerbaijani authorities over deteriorating human rights and basic freedoms in the country.

Talking to RFE/RL by phone from Strasbourg on April 22, Muiznieks said nothing had been done by Baku to improve the situation around freedom of speech, freedom of gatherings and associations, and ownership rights in Azerbaijan.

Muiznieks cited several cases where Azerbaijani journalists and bloggers critical of the authorities had been jailed, persecuted, or humiliated.

He criticized existing defamation laws that critics say are often used to clamp down on dissent.

Muiznieks also expressed concerns regarding the jailing of Anar Mammadov, the leader of an independent election-monitoring group, and opposition leaders Ilqar Mammadov and Tofiq Yaqublu.

Muiznieks spoke to RFE/RL before releasing an updated report on the human rights situation in Azerbaijan.

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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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