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Last Updated: Saturday, 18 September, 2004, 19:55 GMT 20:55 UK
Lithuania shuts Chechen rebel site
kavkazcenter.com after being closed
The site operates from the home of a Soviet-era dissident
Lithuania has temporarily shut down a website publishing information on the activities of Chechen rebel leaders.

The website - kavkazcenter.com - was apparently used by Chechen rebel leader Shamil Basayev to claim responsibility for the Russian school siege.

Correspondents say the Lithuanian ambassador in Moscow was summoned to the Russian foreign ministry and told to stop the website's activities.

At least 320 hostages, many children, were killed in the Beslan massacre.

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Russia is offering $10m for the capture of the Chechen rebel commander.

Instigation charge

The website operating from the Lithuanian capital, Vilnius, was shut by the country's state security department.

It displays a message saying that it has been temporarily disabled pending the outcome of a court decision on its legality.

Our country's law prohibits terrorism propaganda and the instigation of ethnic hatred. We must take legal steps to stop the spreading of this kind of information
Algirdas Brazauskas
Lithuanian Prime Minister
A spokesman for the security department, Vytautas Makauskas, told Russian media the decision was "in accordance with the laws of the country".

A website could be stopped temporarily if "the fact that it disseminates information which contains propaganda of terrorism and incites interethnic strife is in evidence", Ria news agency quoted him as saying.

After a meeting of the defence council on Friday, Lithuanian Prime Minister Algirdas Brazauskas said the site could be shut down.

"Our country's law prohibits terrorism propaganda and the instigation of ethnic hatred. We must take legal steps to stop the spreading of this kind of information," Mr Brazauskas said.

Shamil Basayev
Shamil Basayev used the website to disseminate his ideas
The Chechen rebel website is based on a server in the flat of well-known Soviet-era dissident and political prisoner Viktoras Petkus.

Mr Petkus told the Baltic News Service on Friday that the decision was "a shameful obsequiousness against another state's will".

Lithuanian authorities have been trying to shut down the site - hosted by Elneta service provider - since last year.

But the case has gone before the country's Supreme Court and a ruling is expected next year.


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