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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Gazeta Flap Alarms Media Watchdog

A free speech advocate warned Monday of a campaign to stifle dissent after politicians sympathetic to the Kremlin attacked the Gazeta newspaper for printing an interview with National Bolshevik leader Eduard Limonov.

United Russia and Liberal Democratic Party leaders criticized Gazeta for publishing the interview last week and said it should not give exposure to extremist views.

"This is stupidity," said Oleg Panfilov, head of the Center for Journalism in Extreme Situations. "Various officials [are] trying to declare any statements extremist. That is really stupid."

Andrei Isayev, a deputy leader of United Russia, said mainstream parties should consider refusing to cooperate with Gazeta's journalists.

"It seems to me that it is more than unreasonable for a civilized publication like Gazeta to provide the opportunity for such odious politicians to spread their views," Isayev said.

Gazeta editor Pyotr Fadeyev said the criticism of his paper was "over the top." He said a pact signed by major parties to sideline extremists was being used to silence debate.

Kremlin's opponents say the National Bolsheviks are being targeted because they have played a key role in large protests accusing President Vladimir Putin of crushing democratic freedoms.

In the Gazeta interview, Limonov said Moscow should allow Chechnya to secede from Russia to staunch a decade-long insurgency there. He also called on Putin to resign.