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Security Forces Raid Crimean Tatar TV Station
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SIMFEROPOL, Ukraine -- The headquarters of the only television channel broadcasting in the Crimean Tatar language on the annexed Black Sea peninsula are being searched by representatives of Russia's Federal Security Service (FSB) and Investigative Committee.

Dozens of armed, masked men in unmarked military clothing surrounded the headquarters of the ATR channel on January 26 in the latest evidence of a crackdown on Crimea's Muslim minority.

They were preventing people from entering or leaving during the search.

In a statement broadcast live, ATR saying the investigators want to confiscate the channel's main computer server.

ATR's Deputy Director Lilya Budzhurova condemned the search in a live statement, saying that the company was ready to provide the investigators with the server later but that its confiscation now might disrupt broadcasts.

The OSCE's representative on freedom of the media, Dunja Mijatovic, condemned the "raid" on ATR, saying: "This practice of intrusion of free and independent media cannot be tolerated in the OSCE region."

Activists, community leaders, and rights groups say Crimean Tatars have faced discrimination, pressure, and abuse for their opposition to Russia's illegal annexation of Crimea from Ukraine last March.

ALMATY, Kazakhstan -- The head of an NGO that protects journalists in Kazakhstan has joined a hunger strike to protest the closure of an independent magazine.

Ramazan Esergepov, president of the NGO Journalists in Trouble, joined Gulzhan Erghalieva's (eds: a woman) hunger strike on January 26 in Kazakhstan's largest city, Almaty.

Erghalieva, a prominent journalist who has faced pressure from law enforcement agencies for years, started her hunger strike on January 19 in the offices of her magazine, Adam Bol (Be a Human), to protest its closure.

In December, an Almaty court ordered Erghalieva's magazine shut down for "propagating war."

That ruling came weeks after the magazine published an interview with opposition activist Aidos Sadyqov, who is living in exile in Ukraine. In the interview, Sadyqov lambasted Russia for its involvement in the military conflict in eastern Ukraine.

Before becoming president of Journalists in Trouble in 2012, Esergepov spent three years in jail for publishing articles he wrote about alleged links between a Kazakh businessman and the National Security Committee.

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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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