VOLGOGRAD, February 17 (RIA Novosti) - The mayor's office in a major regional center on the Volga has closed down a local newspaper embroiled in a controversy over the publication of a religious cartoon, a deputy mayor said Friday.
The Gorodskye Vesti newspaper in Volgograd carried an article, "No room for racists in power", with an illustration depicting Jesus Christ, Moses, Buddha and Mohammed in front of a television showing two groups of people about to start a fight. The caption read "We did not teach them to do that..."
"We have carefully studied the article and decided to close down the newspaper in order not to inflame ethnic hostilities," Deputy Mayor Andrei Doronin told a news conference.
On Wednesday, prosecutors announced that they were launching a probe into the matter after local politicians and representatives of public organizations voiced their concerns in the wake of the wave of protests that have engulfed the Muslim world after satirical cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed were published in a Danish newspaper September 30 and then reprinted by other media earlier this year.
Gorodskiye Izvestia Editor Tatyana Kaminskaya then apologized for any offense that may have been caused but added that she had received no complaints from religious or ethnic communities. She defended the article by saying that it protested against religious and ethnic intolerance.
"I can't understand why anyone could come to such conclusions," she said. "The piece is against religious and ethnic intolerance. A caricature is comical but somehow with a malicious depiction of reality. There was nothing of the sort in our newspaper."
Many Russian politicians and public figures, including President Vladimir Putin, condemned the Danish caricatures, while the spiritual leader of Russia's 20 million Muslims, Sheikh Ravil Gainutdin, called for peace following the worldwide disturbances.
Depictions of Mohammed are explicitly prohibited by Islamic law. Muslims in many countries took to the streets in protest against the publications, which led to the ransacking of Danish and other Western embassies. Danish and Norwegian peacekeepers were also attacked in Afghanistan.