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Thursday, August 23, 2007

Annals of the Neo-Soviet Crackdown on Bloggers

Republishing from BBC Monitoring, Red Orbit offers the following translation of a Russian TV broadcast about the neo-Soviet blog crackdown:

Text of "24" news report by Russian Ren TV on 22 August

[Presenter] No gossiping on Zhivoy Zhurnal [Live Journal]. Russian justice has extended its reach to the world wide web. Several people have come under close police scrutiny for their statements on the Internet. In Perm, the Internet user Dmitriy Shirinkin [as received] could end up in the dock for a prose essay full of hatred of everything from the authorities to the TV show Dom- 2 [Russian version of Big Brother].

Meanwhile, a blogger from Syktyvkar, Savva Terentyev, has been careless in his description of the men in epaulets. Nina Davlidzyanova [as received] has more.

[Correspondent] The musician Savva Terentyev had planned to spend his summer on tour, but he has been forced to spend his holiday in his home city Syktyvkar, under orders not to leave the city. It could all have been different if on one fateful evening, a policeman had not decided to take a look at information freely circulating on the net, as it says in the case.

[Savva Terentyev] He sometimes read the blog of Boris Suranov [in whose blog Terentyev posted his comments] at state expense, although there's no ban on that. Found it, read it, took offence.

[Correspondent] Savva described the police officers with scathing expressions, accusing them of corruption.

[Anton Nosik, captioned as manager of an Internet blog] The people who launched the criminal case are trying in this way to portray police-turned-crooks as a social group that enjoys protection from Russian legislation. It seems to me that it ought be us who are protected by the law, not crooks.

[Correspondent] Most Internet users justify Terentyev, and say the constitution gives everyone the right to their own opinion, which can be expressed in both blogs and letters to the editor. The prosecutor's office in the Republic of Komi believes differently. There, they say the musician could face up to four years in prison under the [Russian Criminal Code] article on inciting hatred or enmity as well as abasing human dignity.

[Eduard Guskov, captioned as head of the investigations directorate of the Republic of Komi prosecutor's office] First, we are sure that Terentyev's actions constitute a crime. We believe that whichever lawyer comes, it won't prevent a lawful verdict in this case.

[Correspondent] The first court hearing of the Terentyev case is set for September. There are some who believe that is a good sign. At last, legal rights are reaching the Internet.

[Sergey Lukyanenko, captioned as writer] Freedom should not be confused with permissiveness. Blogs, in essence, are mass media on the Internet. Correspondingly, they are subject to the same laws as printed publications.

[Correspondent] In August this year alone, two sentences were passed for inciting hatred on the Internet - in Novosibirsk and Krasnodar. One culprit got away with a R130,000 fine [slightly over 5,000 dollars at the current exchange rate]. The other was given a 1.5-year suspended sentence. But it is still too early to speak of a trend, say analysts - at least while such cases are still a rarity in Moscow.


Penny said...

No surprise that Putin is going after the internet, it's democratizing and dangerous. People can actually challenge the garbage that the media spews, fact check, reach a consensus, and, God forbid, organize an opposition if they cared enough.

A few more years and Russians will be back to passing handwritten samizdat back and forth. Who said the USSR is dead.

It seems so benign right now, but, wait until some group someday seriously tries to challenge Putin and his crowd, if they aren't high profile like Khordorkovsky or Kasparov(if he survives?) a lot of little people will end their lives in mass graves again.

"Those that ignore history are forced to repeat it". Count on it.

La Russophobe said...

Yeah, handwritten, because only 12 of 140 million have internet access (hard to get with a minimum wage of $0.25 per hour).