Russia bans Facebook ‘counter-extremism’ page

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Russia has banned Facebook “counter-terrorism” pages, following a string of deadly attacks that have targeted the country’s largest mosque and its iconic, Kremlin-backed leader.

The ban comes as the Kremlin struggles to contain a wave of violence targeting its security forces and its allies in the region.

In June, a gunman opened fire on a police checkpoint outside Moscow’s main cathedral, killing at least 15 people.

Two weeks later, a man drove a truck into a crowd at a music festival in St Petersburg, killing 35 people.

On June 24, police in Dagestan, Russia’s southernmost province, shot dead a prominent Islamist preacher, Yusuf Yaylov, after he was killed in a shootout with security forces.

“The Kremlin has taken a firm stance against any form of terrorism and its support for terrorists will remain unchanged,” the interior ministry said in a statement.

“Any person who uses the internet to spread terrorist propaganda or to organize terrorist activities is a terrorist,” the ministry said.

Facebook has since taken down the offending pages, but authorities are trying to prevent others from gaining entry to Russia’s large Muslim population.

“It’s a matter of principle that we don’t allow any group or person to create a platform for propaganda against Russia,” Russian President Vladimir Putin told reporters in Moscow.

“In this case, the government decided to impose a suspension on our social network.”

Putin has also taken steps to tighten restrictions on the Muslim population, including a new law requiring women to cover their faces while driving.

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