Russia 'confiscates paper slamming governor'

1st August 2011, Comments 0 comments

The editor of a newspaper in Russia's exclave of Kaliningrad said Monday authorities confiscated an issue with an open letter condemning the local governor's policies on the eve of a visit by President Dmitry Medvedev.

Police confiscated copies of the newspaper Izvestia Kaliningrada (Kaliningrad News) containing an open letter to Medvedev just as a vehicle carrying the newspaper was leaving the printing works Friday morning, editor Oleg Altovsky said.

"We were told that the vehicle contained extremist materials," Altovsky told AFP from Kaliningrad, an exclave wedged between EU members Lithuania and Poland with strong economic ties with Europe.

Izvestia Kaliningrada is a weekly freesheet with a circulation of 40,000.

On the eve of Medvedev's Sunday visit to the region to oversee a Navy Day parade, the newspaper published an open letter to him slamming policies of local governor Nikolai Tsukanov.

The letter, signed by more than 2,000 local residents, said nepotism was rife in the regional administration, and questioned the "criminal past" of some of Tsukanov's appointees.

Altovsky himself was detained for four hours, while the seized copies were never returned, he said, estimating the financial cost at 300,000 rubles ($10,000).

Appointed Kaliningrad governor in September 2010, Tsukanov took over from Georgy Boos after an unprecedented anti-Kremlin protest cost his predecessor his post.

Part of German East Prussia before World War II, Kaliningrad was shaken by a series of protests last year.

During a rally in January 2010 more than 10,000 people targeted Boos and strongman Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, one of the biggest protests in Russia since the economic crisis started in 2008.

© 2011 AFP

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