January 31, 2008 / 10:50 AM / 11 years ago

Founder says Russian authorities hack critical Web site

NAZRAN, Russia (Reuters) - An opposition Web site in the southern Russian region of Ingushetia accused local authorities on Thursday of trying to shut it down after it promoted protests and published details of kidnaps and murders.

Ingushetiya.ru had been one of the only information sources criticizing the authorities from the mainly Muslim region bordering Chechnya.

The Web site promoted and helped organize a protest on Saturday in which demonstrators armed with petrol bombs clashed with police and burnt a pro-government newspaper office.

On Thursday the Web site was closed, founder Magomed Evloev said, accusing authorities of hacking into the site to try and silence opposition.

“This is the action of the Ingush authorities,” he said. “They want to silence us and all the people of Ingushetia, but they will not succeed.”

Ingushetia’s authorities declined to comment.

Civil unrest has been growing in Ingushetia and Dagestan — which both border Chechnya — where most of the population is jobless and where kidnaps, murders and shootouts between police and rebels occur almost daily.

But the Kremlin, which is trying to ensure a smooth transition of power at a March 2 presidential election when Vladimir Putin steps aside, has ordered Russia’s mainstream media to avoid reporting details of the fighting and unrest.

This thrust a series of fringe Web sites like ingushetiya.ru to the fore. It has previously been closed to viewers in Ingushetia but recently reopened before the latest closure. Evloev has pledged to restart the site again.

Evloev has also organized a petition against the December 2 parliamentary election which official results said around 99 percent of the republic’s population had voted and nearly all of them for the pro-Putin party.

About 90,000 people in Ingushetia have signed the petition, stating they did not vote, out of a total population of 450,000.

Writing by James Kilner in Moscow; Editing by Ibon Villelabeitia

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