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Russian prosecutors probe cartoons republication as more die in world protests

[JURIST] The Russian Prosecutor General's Office [MosNews backgrounder; official website in Russian] announced Friday that it has begun an investigation of newspaper editor Anna Smirnova whose newspaper Nash Region reprinted controversial caricatures of Muhammad [JURIST news archive] this week as the first Russian media outlet to do so. Russian President Vladimir Putin [official website] denounced the publications of the cartoons that have sparked protest worldwide since their initial publication in a Danish newspaper in September. Also in Russia Friday, the mayor of the city of Volgograd ordered the closure of the City News (Gorodskiye Vesti) following its publication of a cartoon illustrating Muhammad, Jesus, Moses, and Buddha watching television and accompanying a story entitled "Racists Can't Be in the Government." The Russian Muslim authority, Council of Muftis [backgrounder], criticized the publication of the cartoons as Islamic tradition prohibits the circulation of any image of Muhammad. AP has more. MosNews has local coverage.

Meanwhile protests against the Muhammad cartoons have continued across the globe. Ten people died Friday during a protest in Libya [JURIST news archive] after citizens there set fire to the Italian consulate in apparent retaliation for an Italian cabinet minister's declaration that he would wear a T-shit with the cartoons. Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi has since asked for the minister's resignation. AP has more. Another four people were wounded in a shooting at a cartoons demonstration in Pakistan [JURIST news archive], where five people died during protests last week [JURIST report]. Reuters has more. An estimated 10,000 protesters assembled in London's Trafalgar Square Saturday at a rally organized by the Muslim Action Committee (MAC). The event followed a demonstration [JURIST report] by about 5,000 moderate Muslims in London last Saturday. Reuters has more.

1:20 PM ET - Libya's parliamentary secretariat announced Saturday that the country's interior minister had been suspended in connection with Friday's deadly protests. In a statement, the secretariat said "We condemn the excessive use of force and the inappropriate way that went beyond the limits of carrying out the duties of the police." Those who caused the deaths and "the officials responsible for them" have been threatened with investigations and court action. Sunday has been declared a day of mourning. AP has more.

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