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Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny at his court hearing in Moscow on Russia August 27

Russian news agencies say a Moscow court has sentenced opposition activist Aleksei Navalny to 30 days in jail after convicting him of violating protest laws.

The August 27 ruling by the Tverskoi District Court effectively bars Navalny from participating in a protest next month targeting a controversial government proposal to raise the country's pension age.

The court found Navalny guilty of breaking protest laws by helping to organize a street rally in Moscow in January despite authorities' refusal to sanction it.

That demonstration in Moscow, along with similar protests in other Russian cities, drew thousands of people opposed to the reelection of President Vladimir Putin.

Navalny’s lawyers said they will appeal the ruling.

Navalny, who was arrested outside his home on August 25, has said that his latest case represents an attempt by the authorities to disrupt rallies across Russia planned for September 9 against the pension proposal.

A vocal foe of Putin, Navalny has organized large street protests on several occasions and published a series of reports alleging corruption in Russia's ruling elite.

He was barred from the March presidential race due to a conviction on financial-crimes charges he contends were fabricated by the Kremlin to sideline him from the March 18 vote.

Putin overwhelmingly won the election, garnering almost 77 percent of the vote -- more than he received in any of his three previous elections and the highest percentage handed to any post-Soviet Russian leader.

The government's proposal to raise the retirement age has stoked widespread anger across the country and has undermined Putin’s popularity.

The Russian parliament has given preliminary backing to the proposal that would raise the retirement age to 63 for women by 2034 and to 65 for men by 2028. Currently, the retirement age is 55 for women and 60 for men.

The plan sparked widespread anger after it was announced in June, and Putin's approval ratings have fallen.

With reporting by TASS, Reuters, and Interfax
A rally in Banja Luka on August 27 was organized to protest against an attack on Vladimir Kovacevic of the independent Bosnian Serb television station BNTV.

Several hundred people on August 27 gathered in the center of Banja Luka in Bosnia-Herzegovina’s predominantly Serb entity to protest against an attack on a reporter.

The demonstrators, who included journalists, opposition supporters, and activists, urged police to quickly find those responsible for the assault against Vladimir Kovacevic of the independent Bosnian Serb television station BNTV.

Kovacevic said two men beat him with metal bars late on August 26 as he was coming home after reporting from an antigovernment protest in Banja Luka, the administrative center of Republika Srpska.

"I tried to defend myself and cried for help as they beat me on the head and body," BNTV quoted him as saying. "Then they escaped in a car."

A photo posted on Kovacevic’s Twitter account showed his bloodied and bandaged head.

BNTV started its program on August 27 with a blackened screen and message, reading, "Open protest over the attack on a BNTV journalist. We are asking Republika Srpska’s [police] to reveal the attackers."

In a statement, the Bosnian journalists' association blamed Bosnian Serb leader Milorad Dodik for leading a campaign against independent media, saying it made reporters "open targets" for attackers.

Dodik, parliament speaker Nedeljko Cubrilovic, and other politicians condemned the attack against Kovacevic.

The U.S. Embassy in Sarajevo tweeted that the attacks on journalists were "unacceptable."

“We strongly defend the right of journalists to report the news without fear of reprisal. When journalists are silenced, society suffers,” it added.

In a statement, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe's (OSCE) media-freedom representative, Harlem Desir, said "the negative rhetoric being used against the media must end, in order to prevent further such attacks against journalists."

With reporting by AP and Balkan Insight

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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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