Blogger Handed Suspended Sentence

The Syktyvkar City Court handed blogger Savva Terentyev a one-year suspended prison sentence Monday for a controversial post he made last year, saying police officers should be "periodically set on fire" in city squares, "like in Auschwitz."

Terentyev, 22, was found guilty of inciting hatred or harm for a commentary he wrote on journalist Boris Suranov's blog in February 2007, prosecutor Alexander Shulkin said.

Terentyev's lawyers have questioned the findings of court experts called on to examine the language in the piece and plan to appeal the verdict, Interfax reported.

His lawyers maintain that Terentyev had intended for only a select number of people to see the online commentary and that, under the Constitution and the European Convention on Human Rights, the contents of the blog are protected speech.

Komi republic law enforcement officials said Terentyev's words were meant to incite hatred toward the police and filed charges in the Syktyvkar City Court in the republic's capital on March 7, 2008.

Syktyvkar city prosecutor Lada Luzan asked the jury to hand down a sentence of 1 1/2 years on Friday, Interfax reported.

Prosecutors said the crime should be considered an extremist act because Terntyev targeted law enforcement officials, and they "insisted on a suspended sentence rather than a fine or community service," the news agency reported.