On Monday, the local branch of Russia's state media regulator Rossvyazkomnadzor filed a lawsuit against Chernovik in Dagestan's Supreme Court, demanding that the weekly be closed for allegedly carrying "extremist" statements. The Rossvyazkomnadzor's lawsuit comes on top of an ongoing criminal case alleging Isayeva and four staffers engaged in extremism and incitement of hatred.
According to local press reports, Rossvyazkomnadzor said articles published in 2008 incited hatred of law enforcement agencies in the region. A first court hearing on the Rossvyazkomnadzor's claim is scheduled for Thursday; no court date has yet been scheduled in the criminal case.
Chernovik is often critical of regional police and the Federal Security Service operating in the region. Isayeva and her colleagues have contended that antiterrorist operations carried out by the two agencies had actually fueled the rise of militant Islam in the region.
"The attempt to silence one of the
few remaining independent voices in Russia's
turbulent North Caucasus region is deeply disturbing," said
Isayeva told CPJ that regional law enforcement officials, whom she and her colleagues continue to criticize, want to shutter her paper by any means. Rossvyazkomnadzor regulators "filed this claim as an alternative option in case they won't be able to convict us in a criminal court," Isayeva said.
July 2008, regional prosecutors opened an investigation into alleged
extremism and incitement of hatred toward police as a social group. State investigators
who looked into Chernovik's content concluded
that the paper carries "statements directed at the formation and maintenance of
a negative social stereotype of representatives of the law enforcement
structures." A criminal case within the broad framework of the extremism law was
then opened against Isayeva and four of her colleagues.
According to the independent Moscow-based organization Sova, which monitors acts of nationalism and xenophobia in Russia, Chernovik's publications do not contain any traits of extremism or calls to violence.