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U.S. Media Watchdog Criticizes Russia --> Russian President Vladimir Putin at the World Editors Forum held this June in Moscow (ITAR-TASS) September 22, 2006 --The New York-based Committee To Protect Journalists has criticized the Russian authorities for prosecuting a journalist accused of insulting President Vladimir Putin.

Vladimir Rakhmankov, the editor of the online publication "Kursiv," went on trial on September 21 for running an article with the headline "Putin as Russia's phallic symbol."

In the article, the journalist made fun at Putin's state-of-the-nation address in May, in which the president called on citizens to boost the country's birth rate.

If convicted, Rakhmankov faces up to 12 months of corrective labor or fine.

The Committee To Protect Journalists said in a statement issued on September 21 that satire is a "vital element of democratic discourse "and that journalists should not be persecuted for using it.

(Interfax, AP)