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Ruslan Shaveddinov (file photo)

A Moscow court has sentenced a prominent associate of opposition politician Aleksei Navalny to eight days in jail on charges of participating in an illegal demonstration.

Ruslan Shaveddinov, who hosts video programs on Navalny's YouTube channel, was pronounced guilty and sentenced on January 31, one day after he and Navalny's press secretary, Kira Yarmysh, were detained at Moscow's Sheremetyevo Airport.

The court's ruling stressed that Shaveddinov's violations were committed "with the goal of forming a negative image of one of the registered candidates" for the March 18 presidential election, evidently referring to incumbent President Vladimir Putin.

Yarmysh is facing similar charges and could be sentenced to up to 10 days in jail when her case is heard.

On January 28, Shaveddinov and Yarmysh hosted an Internet broadcast covering a Navalny-organized national protest calling on Russians to boycott the election. The broadcast was produced in the Lithuanian capital, Vilnius.

Navalny, who is barred from participating in the election because of a felony embezzlement conviction that he says is politically motivated, has said the election amounts to "the reappointment" of Putin, who has ruled Russia as either president or prime minister since 2000.

Navalny was himself arrested on his way to the January 28 protest in Moscow and was later released pending a court hearing.

At least 350 people were detained nationwide.

With reporting by Novaya Gazeta and Ekho Moskvy
Human rights activist, lawyer Ivan Pavlov

Human Rights Watch (HRW) has awarded a Russian and a Saudi activist for their "courageous and tireless" work in advocating human rights.

The New York-based rights group announced January 30 that Ivan Pavlov and Hala Al-Dosari were the recipients of this year’s Alison Des Forges Award for Extraordinary Activism, saying they were "leading voices for justice" in Russia and Saudi Arabia.

HRW executive director Kenneth Roth said in a statement that the annual award celebrates the valor of people who "work tirelessly and courageously to stand up for justice, often in the face of danger and at great personal sacrifice."

The statement described Al-Dosari as a prominent human rights activist, scholar, and blogger "known for speaking out against the country’s deeply entrenched discrimination against women and girls."

It said Pavlov is a lawyer and activist who has dedicated his career to defending people "wrongly accused by security services of disclosing state secrets, high treason, and espionage."

"Pavlov has persevered against overwhelming odds, threats of violence, and government surveillance," it added.

In a statement on Facebook, Pavlov said on January 31 that the award was a "great honor" for Team 29, the informal group of lawyers he leads -- and without whose other members he said "nothing would have been achieved.”

Pavlov's clients included Inga Tutisan, a Russian woman convicted of treason in 2014 for sending text messages to Georgian acquaintances about the movement of Russian Navy ships in the Black Sea after the brief 2008 Russian-Georgian war. Russia's Supreme Court reduced her six-year prison sentence by almost two years in November.

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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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