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Russian Newspaper Publisher Charged With Libel, Inciting Hatred

The founder of an independent newspaper in the south-central Russian Altai Republic is being charged with defamation and inciting interethnic hatred, RFE/RL's Russian Service reports.

Sergei Mikhaylov, who is a member of the regional parliament and founder of the independent newspaper "Listok" (Page), is accused of offending the republic's head, Aleksandr Berdnikov.

In an article printed in his newspaper one year ago, Mikhaylov criticized the local authorities' decision to "liquidate" an outdoor market in the republic's capital, Gorno-Altaisk. The article used the same vocabulary (the word "liquidate") to describe possible actions against the republic's government and its chairman.

Mikhaylov was also charged on May 14 with "igniting interethnic hatred and extremism" for carrying a placard of an "ultranationalist character" during an antigovernment meeting in Gorno-Altaisk in February.

The sign reportedly denigrated republican Deputy Prime Minister Sergei Tevonian, who is an ethnic Armenian.

Police investigators have confiscated computers, posters, and brochures from the newspaper's offices and Mikhaylov's house.

Mikhaylov said the searches were conducted illegally and without a court order. He said the anti-Tevonian poster had appeared in his hands "by accident."

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