Moscow City Court Upholds Closure of

Publication: North Caucasus Weekly Volume: 9 Issue: 32

The Moscow City Court on August 12 upheld a lower court ruling ordering the closure of In June, Moscow’s Kuntsevsky District Court ordered that the opposition website be shut down for publishing extremist statements, but the website continued to operate while the Moscow City Court prepared to consider its appeal.

The Moscow Times on August 13 quoted’s founder, Magomed Yevloev, as calling the latest decision “unlawful” and promising that the website would keep operating despite the court’s ruling, which came into force right away. Yevloev said the web editors should be able to keep the site open on a technicality. “Only the website’s editors can decide on it being shut down, but they were not involved in the trial, so they are not planning to abide by it,” he said, adding that the website’s editors will now file their own court appeal.

Yevloev has blamed “political pressure” for the court case and, according to the Moscow Times, called the investigation “an attempt to silence the last independent voice in the republic.” As the English-language newspaper reported, he also has argued that the authorities have no right to shut down the website because it is registered in the United States. In March, the office of Ingushetia’s president, Murat Zyazikov, who is one of’s main targets, created a website with a similar address——in an attempt to compete with the opposition website.

Just prior to this latest court ruling against, Reporters Without Borders, the Paris-based international press freedom watchdog group, called on the Russian authorities to unblock access to the website. “Ingushetiya is an exceptional news outlet in Russia,” Reporters Without Borders said. “The accusation of extremism is just a pretext for gagging a website that reports allegations of corruption implicating national figures. Its editor was forced to flee Russia after being threatened by the authorities. We condemn this harassment and we call for the immediate reopening of the site.”

Meanwhile, Interfax reported on August 11 that Roza Malsagova, the editor of the opposition website who left Russia for Europe with her three children in July in the face of numerous criminal and administrative charges filed against her, intends to seek political asylum in France. “Malsagova contacted us through the Internet and said she was in France and would ask for political asylum,” her lawyer, Kaloi Akhilgov, told the news agency. “I do not know at what stage the process is now. She has already submitted some papers.” Earlier, Akhilgov told Interfax that Malsagova had left Russia after several criminal cases, all of them connected with her work with, were opened against her. “She figured out that it would be better for her and her three children, whom she is raising all by herself, to leave the country,” the lawyer said.