Opposition-minded newspaper Novaya Gazeta has been hit with an extremism warning by Russia's media watchdog, prompting near immediate speculation of an impending crackdown on independent media outlets.
A statement on the agency's website said Friday that the newspaper's editors had been warned about the "inadmissibility of using the mass media to carry out extremist activities."
After receiving the written warning, the newspaper has 10 days to delete the material considered "extremist" from its website.
Should it fail to do so, Novaya Gazeta risks its website being blocked. In accordance with Russian law, two written warnings within a 12-month period are grounds to revoke the media outlet's registration certificate.
The newspaper, which was tipped as a contender for this years' Nobel Peace Prize, has been relentless in its coverage of Russia's involvement in the Ukraine conflict.
It has published several exposes on Russian troops believed to have been killed while fighting in eastern Ukraine, offering the testimony of soldiers' wives who said their husbands were sent there for military operations.
But the extremism warning stems from an article published Sept. 10 on the Novaya Gazeta website, the Izvestia newspaper reported, citing the deputy head of the federal media watchdog, Maxim Ksenzov.
Ksenzov was cited as saying the reason for the warning was an article written by Yulia Latynina, titled "If We Are Not the West, Who Are We?"
In the article, Latynina criticizes the anti-Western stance of Russian lawmakers, comparing their policies to those of Nazi leader Adolf Hitler.
Russia's law on extremism has been the subject of great controversy since it was first adopted in 2002. Many say the vagueness of what constitutes "extremism" allows authorities to use the law as a political weapon to silence critics.