Independent newspaper faces closure in Russia

An independent newspaper in a Russian province near Chechnya is facing closure on charges of carrying extremist statements - an accusation its editor denounced as an attempt to stifle criticism of police brutality. Authorities have accused the weekly Chernovik of sympathizing with Islamic militants who have been launching almost daily attacks against police. Last week, a sniper killed Dagestan's top law-enforcement official, feeding fears that the southern region may be spinning out of control. Chernovik editor Nadira Isayeva said, however, that officials were seeking to shut down the paper because they were angry over its exposure of police brutality and corruption - police conduct she said had helped swell the number of Islamic militants. "The main reason behind the persecution of the newspaper is our journalists' opinion about the activities of law-enforcement structures, which differs from the official view," Isayeva told The Associated Press on Thursday.