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Watchdog Condemns Arrest of Russian Activist Over Unsanctioned Beslan Rally

Mos News | September 28 2006

An international rights group on Wednesday denounced a Russian court’s decision to sentence a rights activist to three days in jail for taking part in an unsanctioned rally, The Associated Press reports.

The International Helsinki Federation condemned a Moscow district court’s ruling to jail Lev Ponomarev for three days, saying Ponomarev had “exercised his internationally protected rights to freedom of expression and assembly.”

The group noted that Russian law does not require explicit permission to stage an assembly.

Ponomarev, who leads For Human Rights group, was sentenced Tuesday for staging a rally earlier this month to pay tribute to the victims of the 2004 school hostage-taking in Beslan. Ponomarev has notified the authorities of the rally, but they refused to sanction it.

Rights groups say Russia has seen a steady rollback on post-Soviet freedoms under President Vladimir Putin.

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