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Gryzlov Links 2 Newspapers to Terrorists

State Duma Speaker Boris Gryzlov has linked Vedomosti and Moskovsky Komsomolets to terrorists for publishing articles that he called "suspicious."

Gryzlov told a meeting between President Dmitry Medvedev and Duma faction leaders on Friday that the two newspapers had sided with Chechen rebels rather than consolidate society by publishing critical articles between the March 29 attacks and March 31, when Chechen rebel leader Doku Umarov claimed responsibility.

"If we analyze these three sources, then we will see that in fact they are stewing in the same juices. The connection between the publications and the terrorists' actions evokes suspicions," Gryzlov said.

Gryzlov, who heads United Russia's Duma faction, did not elaborate on the three sources, and he mentioned only two specific articles, a news report with the headline "Revenge for Caucasus" in Vedomosti and a column by Alexander Minkin in Moskovsky Komsomolets. Both articles, which were published Tuesday, linked the attacks to the North Caucasus.

Gryzlov's criticism was backed by Just Russia leader Sergei Mironov, who serves as speaker of the Federation Council.

"Some mass media basically played into the terrorists' hands, trying to convince our citizens that the fight against terrorists was ineffective and the government is unable to protect citizens," Mironov said in televised remarks.

Medvedev played down the politicians' criticism, saying critical media reports after terrorist attacks "are normal" but journalists should not side with terrorists.

Both newspapers dismissed Gryzlov's allegations.

Minkin, whose article was particularly critical of law enforcement agencies and the Kremlin, said he would wait a week for Gryzlov to apologize and then file a defamation lawsuit.

"A libel case won't add positive accents to his biography," Minkin said Saturday on Ekho Moskvy radio. "I'll give him a week because of the holiday."

Christians celebrated Easter last weekend.

"The only connection between Doku Umarov's statement and Vedomosti's article is the fact of the metro attacks," said Tatyana Lysova, editor-in-chief of Vedomosti, which is published by the parent company of The Moscow Times, Independent Media Sanoma Magazines.

Senior United Russia official Andrei Isayev said the party was surprised by the newspapers' reaction to Gryzlov's criticism.

"Some of the press — primarily Moskovsky Komsomolets — reacted to the tragic circumstances … in an absolutely irresponsible way," Isayev said, Interfax reported.

He added that United Russia might file a countersuit.

At least one United Russia deputy, however, has also said the corrupt law enforcement system failed to protect people from repeat attacks.

"If we don't stop it [corruption], if corruption isn't stopped in law enforcement agencies … this won't be the last terrorist attack," Duma Deputy Lyubov Sliska said last week, United Russia reported on its web site.

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