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Dmitry Muratov was one of a group of journalists who founded the newspaper in 1993.

The longtime editor of Russia's respected Novaya Gazeta newspaper will step down from his post this week.

Dmitry Muratov, 56, told the RBK news agency on November 13 that he was not seeking another term as the paper's editor in chief, a post he has held for 22 years. The paper's editorial staff will elect a new leader at a meeting on November 17.

Muratov said the newspaper will form a new oversight organ called the Editorial Council that will be responsible for all "strategic matters." An unidentified source at the newspaper told RBK that Muratov would participate in that council.

Muratov was one of a group of journalists who founded the newspaper in 1993, shortly after leaving the Komsomolskaya Pravda daily.

Former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev donated part of his 1990 Nobel Peace Prize money to the paper.

Under Muratov's leadership, Novaya Gazeta, which is published three times a week, has emerged as one of the leading independent media outlets in Russia. It has earned plaudits for its reporting on corruption and human rights violations.

Its current circulation is about 190,000 copies.

Six Novaya Gazeta journalists -- including Yury Shchekochikhin, Anna Politkovskaya, and Anastasia Baburova -- have been killed since 2001 because of their journalistic work.

Muratov won the International Press Freedom Award, presented by the Committee to Protect Journalists, in 2007. In 2010, he was awarded France's Legion of Honor.

Afqan Muxtarli is brought to court in Baku in June.

BRUSSELS -- A letter signed by several members of the European Parliament condemning the treatment of imprisoned Azerbaijani journalist Afqan Muxtarli was sent on November 13 to Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev.

The letter, signed by 47 lawmakers and seen by RFE/RL, condemns the prosecution of Muxtarli and demands his immediate release.

It was sent a week ahead of the Eastern Partnership summit in Brussels, where Aliyev is expected to meet with EU leaders.

"We regret to learn about the severe restrictions imposed on Mukhtarli to meet his relatives and make phone calls. During the first month of his imprisonment, Mukhtarli was not allowed to make a single phone call to his family, only after three months he was allowed to see his brother," the letter said.

The letter also expressed concern that Muxtarli's lawyers "had to endure physical abuse and the fact that some of their defense related material was being temporarily confiscated and read by the employees of penitentiary service."

Muxtarli was abducted in Georgia's capital, Tbilisi, on May 29 and subsequently transferred to Azerbaijan, where he is currently awaiting trial on charges of illegal border crossing and smuggling, dismissed by Human Rights Watch as "politically motivated."

The letter states that "the release of Afghan Mukhtarli and all other political prisoners currently under arrest would show a genuine commitment of Azerbaijani authorities for the further cooperation and partnership with the European Union prior to the forthcoming Eastern Partnership Summit and beyond."

Azerbaijan is currently ranked 162nd out of 180 countries in Reporters Without Borders' 2017 World Press Freedom Index.

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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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