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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

State Begins Proceedings To Close Extremist Paper

The Russian Press and Information Committee has started court proceedings to close the extreme rightist newspaper Zavtra for continuing violations of the law on mass media, a spokesman for the committee said Wednesday.

Sergei Gryzynov, deputy head of the committee, said in a telephone interview that the organization decided to file a court suit after the newspaper, formerly called Den, ignored three warnings sent by the committee this year over inflammatory and offensive articles.

"Zavtra regularly published articles which ignited social, religious, ethnic intolerance and called for the overthrow of the government. So according to the law we have filed a suit to the Moscow city court which has the power to close the paper," he said.

The suit is the latest stage in a crackdown against the opposition press by the committee which replaced the Information Ministry last year. It followed final warnings given to other extremist papers, Chernaya Sotnya (Black Hundreds), Narodny Stroi (People's Formation), K Toporu (Take Up Your Axe) and Russkoye Delo (Russian Affair).

Gryzynov also said he personally did not support banning Zavtra, a scheduled weekly that appears less often, but instead called for large penalties. "Huge fines would cool them down. If the paper is closed it will immediately gain in our society the image of 'sufferer' which could only help the opposition. But there is a law and we must follow it," he said.

Alexander Prokhanov, editor-in-chief of Zavtra, rejected charges against the paper and doubted that the committee would be able to win the case.

In a telephone interview Wednesday he denied that Zavtra had promoted "ethnic intolerance" and said the suit was part of a long unsuccessful campaign to close the paper through legal means.

"However, we are afraid of being closed without any court investigation by the president's decree," he said. "We got information that such a decree dealing not only with us but with other opposition publications is being prepared in the president's office. A spokesman for President Boris Yeltsin declined to comment on the report.