Reporters Without Borders

Harassment, prosecutions, convictions – the daily lot of Russian bloggers

Harassment, prosecutions, convictions – the daily lot of Russian bloggers

Published on Wednesday 15 June 2011.
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Reporters Without Borders condemns all the different kinds of harassment – judicial and otherwise – that the Russian authorities use in a bid to put bloggers on the defensive and to intimidate those who dare to speak their mind, under the pretext of fight against extremism and anti-Semitism

The Federal Security Service (FSB) asked the well-known blogger Leonid Kaganov, through his hosting company, to remove an anti-Semitic poem that he had mocked. Kaganov complied, but replaced the original poem with a parody. The FSB nonetheless reiterated its request. Finally, for fear of further conflict with the security services, Kaganov decided to move his blog on to a foreign server, in May 2011.

Roman Hozeyev has been hounded since 2009 for quoting Adolf Hitler’s book Mein Kampf in post on a local website, in 2005, in which he compared US President George W. Bush’s statements to Hitler’s. Hozeyev won his second trial in connection with the case in February but the prosecutor’s office has appealed.

He was acquitted once in 2010 and should not be prosecuted again on the same charge. This judicial persistence violates the most basic principles of due process. Furthermore, Mein Kampf was not banned in Russia until 2010 so the prosecutions violate the principle that criminal law cannot be retroactive.

Reporters Without Borders condemns the persecution of Hozeyev and calls for the immediate withdraw of proceedings against this blogger.

New cases of harassment of bloggers and netizens are emerging all the time, especially those speaking on sensitive topics. Last month, an army officer, Maj. Igor Matveyev, reported various abusive practices at a military base in Vladivostok including the alleged distribution of dog food to troops in cans labelled as beef stew and the exploitation of undocumented immigrants.

Although a source of information that is clearly in the public interest, Matveyev is now facing a possible 10-year sentence for alleged violence against a young soldier – a trumped-up charge, according to his lawyers. He was cashiered and declared mentally unstable in 2003 following previous allegations but was reinstated as a result of pressure from the Council of Europe.

Corruption allegations by Yuri Yegorov, a former regional government employee in the Republic of Tatarstan, led to his being given a six-month suspended jail sentence and two years of probation yesterday. Yegorov claimed that there had been embezzlement in the office of Tatarstan ombudsman Rashit Vagizov from February to July 2007.

Testimony by several witnesses supported his allegations but the court refused to take it into account, thereby violating several international instruments that Russia has signed. The court also ordered the destruction of his computer on the grounds that it was used to commit the “crime.” Yegorov is going to appeal.

Russia is one of the countries “under surveillance” in the Enemies of the Internet report that Reporters Without Borders released on 12 March.

PRESS FREEDOM INDEX

INTERNET ENEMIES

COUNTRY FILES

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