Court Orders Ingush Web Site to Be Closed

A Moscow court on Friday ordered that the Ingush opposition web site Ingushetiya.ru be closed for carrying extremist content.

Judge Lidia Sorokina of the Kuntsevsky District Court ordered that Ingushetiya.ru be shut down publishing extremist statements, though site founder Magomed Yevloyev remained defiant.

"They can't shut down the web site as it is registered in the United States," Yevloyev said, adding that he planned to file an appeal in the coming days.

Sorokina declined to comment when reached by telephone Friday.

Ingushetiya.ru remains one of the only information sources criticizing authorities in the mainly Muslim region bordering Chechnya and is known for its investigations into local corruption.

It promoted and helped organize a January 2007 protest in which demonstrators armed with molotov cocktails clashed with police and burnt a pro-government newspaper office.

Prosecutors opened a criminal case against Ingushetiya.ru in July on charges of inciting ethnic hatred.

"I believe that the web site has come under political pressure," Yevloyev said. "This is an attempt to silence the last independent voice in the republic."

Russian web users could lose access to the site if authorities order Russian providers to block its IP address, said political analyst Vladimir Pribylovsky, whose site Anticompromat.ru was ordered pulled from a Russian server by law enforcement authorities.

Pribylovsky subsequently moved his site to a U.S. server.

Prosecutor Irina Semyonova conceded it would be difficult to close the site. "But we believe we can shut down the site's activities with the help of the Communications and Press Ministry and the Federal Court Marshals Service," Semyonova said, Interfax reported.