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Russia27 August 2008

Police search homes of three journalists in Dagestan

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The homes of the editor of Chernovik, an independent weekly based in the southern republic of Dagestan, and two of its reporters were searched yesterday as part of a criminal investigation into the editor, Nadira Isayeva, who has been charged with inciting hatred and “attacking human dignity” for quoting one of the leaders of the boyevikis (independence fighters).

“We condemn the charges brought against Chernovik,” Reporters Without Borders said. “The claims being made to justify this prosecution are just a pretext to prevent independent journalists from expressing themselves freely.”

Police and prosecutors together carried out the searches of the homes of Isayeva, Khadjimurat Kamalov, the weekly’s founder, and Artur Mammayev, a political reporter.

Two criminal investigations of the newspaper and its editor were opened, on 31 July, in which they are accused of “publicly inciting extremism through the media” and “inciting hatred and attacking human dignity” in connection with a 4 July article entitled “Number One Terrorists” that quoted boyeviki leader Rappan Khalilov.

Dagestan prosecutor Igor Tkachev said: “The publication of statements by boyeviki leader Khalilov in the newspaper gives this criminal band operating in Dagestan the status of an organised political force.”

Kamalov told the press: “This raid is a deliberate response by Dagestan’s interior minister. I met with the president of Dagestan on 25 August in the presence of the public prosecutor, the head of the Federal Security Service (FSB) and the interior minister. And I publicly accused the interior minister of being responsible for the corruption in our republic.”

Isayeva said the searches of the homes of her two colleagues were illegal as she is the only one who has been personally charged and they are just witnesses.

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