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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Blogger Charged for Incendiary Message

Prosecutors in a town in the Komi republic have charged an Internet blogger with inciting hatred in the mass media after he posted a message saying local police should be "periodically set on fire" in the town's main square.

Savva Terentyev faces a maximum sentence of two years in prison if convicted for posting a message on LiveJournal.com "calling for physical violence against a certain group of local police officers," Yury Knyazev, a spokesman for the republic of Komi Prosecutor's Office, said by telephone Monday.

The comment in question read: "Cops and hooligans are one and the same. It wouldn't be a bad idea if crooked cops were periodically set on fire on Stefanovskaya Ploshchad."

Anton Nosik, director of the Internet provider for LiveJournal.com in Russia and founder of Internet portals Lenta.ru and Gazeta.ru, said the authorities are charging Terentyev for posting on the popular site in an attempt to lasso what they see as a runaway free speech medium. Terentyev had previously used his blog to criticize city police for raiding the offices of a local opposition paper, which Nosik said is what made them angry enough to go after him.

"The charges amount to nothing more than personal revenge on the part of the authorities," Nosik said.

Knyazev said he could not verify that information. Terentyev could not be reached for comment Monday.

Despite the concern over the charges against Terentyev, Nosik said the case had more to do with local authorities trying to flex their muscles than any general movement toward censorship of the web.

"Most of these cases occur in the regions, where there are very low levels of computer literacy," he said.

On Feb. 26, Syktyvkar city prosecutors spotted Terentyev's comment on the blog and sent it to be examined by the local Interior Ministry office, Knyazev said.

Criminal proceedings were opened March 10 and Terentyev was officially charged Thursday. He is not being held in custody, but has signed an agreement not to leave town, Knyazev said.

Terentyev posted his comments on the LiveJournal.com blog of journalist Boris Suranov, who runs the local newspaper Ziryanskaya Zhizn. Such blogs have become increasingly popular with writers concerned about their safety if they are criticizing the authorities and working in the country's increasingly controlled media environment.

n Photographs posted on LiveJournal.com appear to show neo-Nazis executing two men, an ethnic Tajik and an ethnic Dagestani, Gazeta.ru reported.

Video of the executions was removed from LiveJournal.com, Gazeta.ru said, but images were still visible through several different threads on the web site Monday.

Under the title "The Execution of a Tajik and a Dagestani," the two men say, "Russian nationalist-socialists have arrested us," before masked men cut one's head off and shoot the other at point-blank range, Gazeta.ru reported.

One picture showed the two victims kneeling in front of a Nazi swastika flag before their deaths.