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Last Updated: Friday, 3 February 2006, 15:42 GMT
Editor convicted for Chechen text
Stanislav Dmitriyevsky
Stanislav Dmitriyevsky says the case is politically motivated
The editor of a US-funded newspaper in central Russia has been found guilty of inciting ethnic hatred in his coverage of the conflict in Chechnya.

Stanislav Dmitriyevsky, the head of the Russian-Chechen Friendship Society, was given a two-year suspended jail term.

The charges relate to statements by Chechen rebel leader Aslan Maskhadov, published by the paper two years ago.

Dmitriyevsky insists the charges were politically motivated in retaliation for his reporting of rights abuses.

The BBC's Moscow correspondent Emma Simpson says his Pravozashchita newspaper, part of the Russian-Chechen Friendship Society, is seen as one of the few independent sources of information about events in the troubled republic.

The paper is frequently critical of the Kremlin's policies in Chechnya.

'Shameful practice'

Russian prosecutors said the statements by Maskhadov - shot dead in March 2005 - and Akhmed Zakayev were aimed at fomenting racial and ethnic hatred.

Campaigners believe his trial is part of a wider clampdown on the work of non-governmental organisations (NGOs).

The For Human Rights group told the AP news agency the verdict was "a continuation of the shameful practice of false accusations against human rights defenders and active opponents of the war in Chechnya".

Russian President Vladimir Putin recently signed a law giving the authorities wide-ranging powers to monitor the activities and finances of NGOs.

The authorities have already tried to close down the Russian-Chechen Friendship Society, accusing it of tax evasion.

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