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Russian Newspaper Editor Gets Early Release

Aigul Makhmutova (undated file photo)
Aigul Makhmutova (undated file photo)
MOSCOW -- A Russian journalist jailed three years ago for extortion, fraud, and defamatory language has been released from a prison near Moscow, RFE/RL's Tatar-Bashkir Service reports.

Aigul Makhmutova, 26, had served three years and one month of her 5 1/2-year sentence.

Originally from the town of Ishimbai in the Russian republic of Bashkortostan, Makhmutova was editor in chief of the newspaper "Sudba Kuzminok" (Kuzminki's Fate) in Kuzminki, near Moscow, when police filed charges against her after her newspaper published a series of articles criticizing local authorities for demolishing playgrounds in order to build garages.

The authorities halted construction after Makhmutova's articles were published. Many locals in Kuzminki and human rights activists regard the case against Makhmutova as retaliation by Kuzminki authorities for the articles.

Makhmutova was serving her jail term in a labor camp for women in the town of Kalchugino, in Vladimir Oblast, about 200 kilometers east of Moscow.

Makhmutova told RFE/RL after arriving in Moscow from Kalchugino that the most difficult part of her imprisonment was the isolation.

She said she plans to continue to work as a journalist and to live in Moscow.

Makhmutova's lawyer, Yury Zak, told RFE/RL that the parole board's decision to allow the early release of his client has nothing to do with the dismissal of Yury Luzhkov as Moscow mayor last year.

Read in Tatar here