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Bashkir Authorities Release Four Of Five Detained Activists

Four of five bloggers and activists who had been detained in the Russian republic of Bashkortostan have been released, RFE/RL's Tatar-Bashkir Service reports.

Lawyers for the men told journalists that Bashkortostan's Supreme Court ordered the release of businessman and opposition figure Nikolai Shvetsov, Center for Bashkortostan's Ethnic Tatars leader Ildar Gabdrafikov, blogger and historical essayist Sergei Orlov, and historian Igor Kuchumov.

They, along with activist Konstantin Nesterov -- whose whereabouts are unknown -- were accused of propagating extremism and religious hatred through the expression of ideas on the website, which is frequently critical of Bashkortostan's government.

All except for Gabdrafikov were detained on August 4.

Orlov is an active LiveJournal blogger who also helped Shvetsov write a regional history book in which Bashkortostan's indigenous people -- Bashkirs -- are depicted as uncultured and barbaric in resisting Russian dominance.

Some Russian and Tatar public organizations in Bashkortostan accuse the republican government of building an ethnocratic regime in which Bashkirs are favored at the expense of sizable Russian and Tatar communities.

In the 2002 census, ethnic Russians were the largest community in the republic at about 36 percent of the population. Bashkirs compose about 30 percent and Tatars 24 percent of Bashkortostan's residents.