"Chernovik," which is published weekly, has the second-largest print-run of any newspaper in Daghestan.
The five journalists accused are the paper's editor, Nadira Isayeva; journalists Magomed Magomedov, Artur Mamayev and Timur Mustafayev; and Biyakai Magomedov, the paper's founder and legal adviser.
The charges of inciting ethnic hatred are based on 10 articles published in "Chernovik" during the first seven months of 2008. On the basis of assessments of those articles by linguists and psychologists, the prosecutor's office concluded that Isayeva conspired with her four colleagues with the aim of inciting hatred and enmity between ethnic Russians and "persons of Caucasian nationality," and also towards employees of the law enforcement organs.
One of the articles in question, published on July 4, 2008, questioned the police version of a purported "anti-terror" operation conducted by police and security forces in Makhachkala during the night of June 27-28.
It implicitly rejected official accounts of that operation, in which two alleged Islamic militants, Rashid Gazilaliyev and Ruslan Kazanbiyev, were killed, together with Gazilaliyev's pregnant wife Sevda Abdullayeva.