Russia hits out at Charlie Hebdo over crash cartoon

Egyptian servicemen approaching a piece of wreckage of Russian MetroJet Airbus A321 at the site of the crash in Sinai, Egypt, 1 November. Image copyright EPA
Image caption Russian experts are investigating pieces of debris in Moscow, officials say

Russia has heavily criticised French magazine Charlie Hebdo for two cartoons depicting the Sinai air crash in which 224 people, mostly Russians, died.

One cartoon shows debris falling on a member of Islamic State (IS) with a caption reading: "Russia's air force intensifies its bombing."

In the other, a skull and body parts of victims are depicted.

Dmitry Peskov, a spokesman for Vladimir Putin, called the cartoons published by the satirical magazine "sacrilege".

"This has nothing to do with democracy or self-expression," he said.

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Charlie Hebdo, which is based in Paris, was the target of a terrorist attack in January. Two Islamist gunman killed 10 of the magazine's staff at its offices and two policemen outside.

The magazine has a history of controversial satire and has been accused previously of insensitivity. It was criticised by Twitter users on Friday, with the hashtag "I'm not Charlie" among the top trends in Russia - a reference to the "Je Suis Charlie" hashtag popular in the wake of the January attack.

Members of the Russian Duma (parliament) also hit out at the magazine, calling on the government to blacklist it as extremist literature and saying France should apologise.

Image copyright AP
Image caption Funerals have been held in Russia for the plane crash victims

"It's not satire but filthy mockery," Ivan Melnikov, the deputy speaker of the lower house, told Russian state TV.

Writing on Twitter, the lower house of parliament's international affairs chief Alexei Pushkov said: "Is there any limit to Russophobia on the pages of Western media?

"As the whole world condoles with us, Charlie Hebdo preaches its vile right to sacrilege," he added.

Charlie Hebdo has not commented on the criticism.

Both UK and US authorities have said they suspect a bomb was responsible for the downing of Metrojet Flight 9268 on Saturday. Islamic State affiliate group Sinai Province has claimed responsibility for the crash.

The UK and Russia have cancelled flights out of Egypt's Sharm-el-Sheikh airport while the crash is investigated.

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