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The French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo

A prosecutor in Chechnya has asked a court to block websites that carrying content from the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, which recently posted a lewd comic strip taking aim at the Russian region's Kremlin-backed leader over allegations of a campaign of abuse against gay men.

The regional prosecutor's office said on May 31 that the prosecutor in Chechnya's Shali district filed a request asking a court in the capital, Grozny, to restrict access to content in Charlie Hebdo that "aims to insult the religious sentiments of believers" and could incite hatred.

The statement did not name any specific website or specify what content it was referring to.

But in May, some websites and social networks posted material that included a Charlie Hebdo comic strip featuring caricatures mocking Chechen authorities and regional leader Ramzan Kadyrov over what rights groups and media reports say has been a gruesome campaign targeting men perceived to be gay.

One drawing in the comic appears to depict Kadyrov engaged in a sexual act.

Kadyrov said in May that Charlie Hebdo’s "editorial policy is immoral and inhuman...and has nothing to do with freedom of expression."

Natalya Sharina in a Moscow courtroom (file photo)

A Moscow court has postponed the verdict in the trial of Natalya Sharina, a librarian who is charged with inciting hatred in a case that is steeped in the confrontation between Moscow and Kyiv and has been denounced by rights activists.

Meshchansky District Court spokeswoman Yulia Bocharova said the judge will pronounce the verdict and sentence on June 5 instead of June 1. No reason was given.

Russian authorities have charged Sharina, the former head of Moscow's Ukrainian Literature Library, with inciting ethnic hatred and embezzlement.

The hate-crime charge stems from the Russian state's claim that her library's collection included books that are banned in Russia as extremist, including works by Ukrainian ultranationalist Dmytro Korchynskiy.

Sharina was detained in October 2015, amid growing animus between Moscow and Kyiv over Russia's seizure of Crimea and support for armed separatists in eastern Ukraine.

In April 2016, investigators additionally charged her with embezzlement, claiming that she used library funds to pay for her legal defense in a separate extremism case against her that was dismissed in 2013.

Her lawyer said the authorities had "trumped up" new charges after realizing their initial case against his client was too weak.

Sharina, who is under house arrest, has rejected all the allegations as politically motivated. The respected Russian human rights group Memorial considers her a political prisoner.

On May 29, the state prosecutor asked the judge to find Sharina guilty and give her a five-year suspended sentence, which would mean she would not be imprisoned.

With reporting by TASS and Interfax

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