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Journalist in Russian Caucasus warned for ‘extremism’

A journalist from Russia’s North Caucasus has been warned for alleged “extremism” over an article describing abuses by law enforcement authorities fighting an Islamic insurgency, AFP learned on Thursday.

The online news agency Ia-maximum. ru and its editor-in-chief Vakha Chapanov received a warning and could be charged if they receive a repeat warning under extremism laws, Chapanov said.

The prosecutor’s office said Chapanov, who sometimes also works for AFP, made “unjustified accusations against the Ingush security forces” in an article.

Chapanov wrote that rights activists were concerned at “grave breaches of the criminal code” by officials and law enforcers.

“To regain confidence (of citizens), it is not enough to eliminate the rebels,” he wrote, saying that official abuses “undermine the authority of the state, creating the conditions for the appearance of new rebels.”

The Ingush prosecutors were not available to comment on Thursday.

Rights activists have in recent years criticised the impunity of law enforcers in the Caucasus, who have carried out kidnappings, arbitrary arrests and summary executions.

The Kremlin has been fighting insurgents in the Caucasus region since just after the 1991 collapse of the Soviet Union, waging a war in 1994-1996 against separatist rebels in Chechnya.

Although the war ended in 2000, rebels have waged an increasingly deadly insurgency with unrest spreading into other areas of the North Caucasus, notably Dagestan, Ingushetia, and Kabardino-Balkaria.