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Moldovans protest outside the country's Supreme Court in Chisinau on June 25.

Moldova's Supreme Court has upheld a decision to invalidate mayoral election results in Chisinau that had shown a victory for a pro-Western candidate.

Protesters gathered outside the court in the capital to protest against the June 25 ruling, chanting "Revolution."

Moldovans have been protesting daily in Chisinau since a court on June 19 invalidated the results of last month’s election, citing violations by Andrei Nastase and the other candidate of the country's campaign laws.

The results of the June 3 runoff election had shown Nastase, an anticorruption activist and pro-EU politician, with 52.5 percent of the vote – enough to defeat Socialist Party candidate Ion Ceban, who has called for closer relations with Russia.

The initial court ruling voided the election results on the grounds that both candidates had addressed voters on social media on election day, after the legal end of campaigning.

An appeals court upheld the ruling on June 21, saying social media communications with voters illegally affected the outcome of the race.

Chisinau mayoral candidate Andrei Nastase (file photo)
Chisinau mayoral candidate Andrei Nastase (file photo)

Nastase claimed that the court decisions were politically motivated. He insisted that neither he nor Ceban campaigned about their political platforms on election day, saying they had merely called on voters to go out and cast their ballots.

Nastase and critics of the court rulings pointed out decisions by other European courts that a simple call to vote on election day does not constitute illegal campaigning.

The nullification of the Chisinau election has been criticized by the EU and the United States.

The Supreme Court's ruling is final and the mayoral post will be filled by an acting mayor until the next election in 2019, according to Moldova's laws.

Nastase called on his supporters to gather in front of the city hall in the morning of June 26 to vent anger over the decision.

With reporting by Reuters
Kazakh rights activist Muratbek Tunghyshbaev in a Kyrgyz court on June 19.

A court in Kyrgyzstan has upheld a decision to extradite a Kazakh opposition activist to his homeland despite concerns by human rights activists that he could face torture and ill-treatment if returned.

The court in the capital, Bishkek, on June 25 ruled that the Kyrgyz Prosecutor-General's Office's decision to extradite Muratbek Tunghyshbaev was in line with the law.

On the eve of the decision, Human Rights Watch (HRW) urged Kyrgyz authorities to protect Tunghyshbaev from being extradited or forced back to Kazakhstan, where the New York-based watchdog said he would "face politically motivated charges, as well as risk of torture."

"Kazakhstan has a long record of trying to silence people who have critical, dissenting views," Mihra Rittmann, Europe and Central Asia researcher at HRW, said in a statement.

Kyrgyz Ombudsman Kubat Otorbaev and rights groups have also urged authorities not to extradite Tunghyshbaev, saying he may face political persecution in Kazakhstan.

Tunghyshbaev was arrested in Bishkek in May at the request of authorities in Kazakhstan who claim that the activist financially supported and took part in the activities of an extremist group.

Asylum Claim

Tunghyshbaev denies the accusations, saying that Kazakh authorities are targeting him over videos he posted on YouTube about problems faced by activists and supporters of the opposition Democratic Choice of Kazakhstan (DVK) movement.

The DVK was established by Mukhtar Ablyazov, a fugitive critic of President Nursultan Nazarbaev.

A court in Kazakhstan banned the movement in March, branding it an extremist organization.

The Kyrgyz Prosecutor-General's Office said on May 24 that Tunghyshbaev must be extradited to Kazakhstan, while Kyrgyzstan's migration service said on June 5 that he had officially asked for political asylum in Kyrgyzstan.

“It is [Tunghyshbaev’s] right to claim asylum given his fears of persecution, and Kyrgyzstan’s obligation to register and give full consideration to his claim,” Rittmann said.

Tunghyshbaev co-founded the human rights group Liberty in 2011. The group has worked on freedom of assembly, antidiscrimination, and other human rights issues.

He fled Kazakhstan in 2012, after security services summoned him for reporting on an oil workers' strike and an outbreak of violence in the town of Zhanaozen in 2011.

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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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