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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

'Predators' Claim Erroneous, Say Putin and Kadyrov

Putting Prime Minister Vladimir Putin and Chechen President Ramzan Kadyrov on a list of “predators of press freedom” was a mistake, spokesmen for the two officials said Tuesday.

The annual list, which features 40 names, was released Monday by Reporters Without Borders, an international media freedom watchdog.

Putin's spokesman Dmitry Peskov said the allegation was "deeply erroneous."

"During the last 10 years, Vladimir Putin did a lot to make mass media more economically independent and therefore more free," Peskov said, RIA-Novosti reported.

Kadyrov's spokesman Alvi Karimov said in a statement that few Russian politicians are as accessible to journalists as the Chechen president and that Kadyrov was capable of handling fair criticism.

Reporters Without Borders accused Putin of increasing state control over the Russian media and impeding independent journalist activity. The watchdog also linked Kadyrov to the murders of investigative journalist Anna Politkovskaya in 2006 and human rights activist Natalya Estemirova last year. Both women were sharp critics of Kadyrov.