MOSCOW (Reuters) – A court in Moscow suspended the main opposition website in the troubled south Russian region of Ingushetia on Monday while prosecutors investigate regional government’s accusations it spreads extremist material.
The government of Ingushetia brought the case against the ingushetiya.ru website owned by local businessmen Magomed Yevloev. Ingushetia has tried to control media outlets as it struggles to contain growing violence in the region.
“Today the Kuntsevsky district court in Moscow upheld a motion by the Republic of Ingushetia … to order Magomed Yevloev to close his Internet activities,” the court’s statement said of the investigation.
Yevloev’s lawyer, Kaloi Akhigov, said the accusations were political.
“The website shows Ingushetia as it really is and they don’t like it,” Akhilgov said.
“We are going to challenge this court order.”
Akhilgov said the ingushetiya.ru website is hosted in the United States, meaning that the court has to order all Internet providers in Russia to switch off the website — a logistical challenge by the June 5 deadline, he said.
Ingushetia borders Chechnya, a scene of two separatist wars since 1994. While Chechnya has calmed, violence has increased in the neighboring regions of Ingushetia and Dagestan.
Ingushetia’s government wants to present a picture of normality in the region and control the information flow. Eyewitness said police beat journalists at anti-government meetings and confiscated cameras earlier this year.