Posts Tagged ‘Dmitry Soloviev’
Russian bloggers have a reason for a small celebration today. For the first time, a blogger was cleared of all extremist charges. Dmitry Soloviev could face up to two years inprisonment for criticizing the police and FSB on his blog. See more on his case here.
The investigation started in August 2008 and in March 2009 Dmitry (who is a member of Oborona, by the way) was charged with “inciting hatred, hostility and degrading a social group of people—the police and FSB,” a violation of the infamous paragraph 282 of the Russian Criminal Code. The blog posts dealt with “siloviki” participating in political repression and contained no calls for violence or even curse words. However, the investigator was very confident that Soloviev would be convicted, and so were the prosecutors: Dmitry’s persecution has been prolonged a number of times, most recently by Deputy Chief Prosecutors. The case lasted almost 1.5 years.
Persecution of Soloviev became a widely discussed topic, a committee in his support was found in Moscow; I was one of its members. Hundreds of bloggers signed a petition in support of Dmitry, but its addressees (Dmitry Medvedev, Vladimir Putin, State Duma, Prosecutor’s Office and the Investigative Committee) ignored it. Bloggers resorted to civil disobedience: dozens of them reposted the “extremist” entries on their blogs, some did it publicly at a Moscow’s central square. The government had to choose between persecuting hundreds people countrywide and ignoring this “act of extremism.” They chose the latter. The officer who was investigating Soloviev’s case was overwhelmed with letters and calls in support of Dmitry.
Ultimately, the detective began to give in. In mid-2009 he agreed to hold an independent examination of Dmitry’s texts outside Kemerovo (where it would be harder for him or FSB to press on the experts). Both such groups of experts, in Moscow and in Tomsk, found no signs of extremism in Dmitry’s texts. The investigation lost any sense after that and on the last day of 2009 the case was closed.
There’s not much to celebrate, however. More and more criminal investigations are being opened against bloggers in Russia, most connected to the same paragraph 282. Dozens of bloggers have been convicted of “extremism” or have been charged with it in last two years. There have been no cases (at least known ones) when bloggers were acquitted, and Soloviev is the first one who was cleared of the charges. Most are sentenced to either fine or conditional imprisonment. Some, like Irek Murtazin, former spokesman of Tatarstan President Mintimir Shaymiev, go to jail. Russian authorities justify such harsh measures by the growth of xenophobia, but in fact accusation of extremism is widely used to silence criticism of the government and bloggers are a target number one.
Below is my latest column for RobertAmsterdam.com dedicated to Dmitry Soloviev’s case and attempts of the FSB to crack down on bloggers.
FSB: a Final Solution for Bloggers
Dmitry Soloviev, a leader of the Oborona youth movement in Kemerovo region, faces criminal charges for criticizing the “siloviki” in a LiveJournal blog. He is accused by the regional prosecutor of posting information that “incites hatred, hostility and degrades a social group of people—the police and FSB”. According to the anti-extremist legislation introduced in 2006 (more specifically, the infamous paragraph 282 of the Criminal Code), he may face up to two years imprisonment if convicted.
I’ve given an interview to Oleg Dusayev of the New Times internet portal. Watch it and read the Russian transcript here. Here is a rough translation, corrections welcome.
OLEG DUSAYEV: Greetings. You are watching the New Times portal, I’m Oleg Dusayev. A criminal investigation has been opened against Dmitry Solovyev, an activist with the Oborona organization. He’s threatened with prison. I’m here with Oborona coordinator Oleg Kozlovsky to discuss the matter. Hello, Oleg.
OLEG KOZLOVSKY: Hello.
The Moscow Times writes about Dmitry Soloviev’s case today. They quote Anton Nosik, a well-known Russian blogger and head of SUP company, which owns LiveJournal, who comments on the case: “It would be frightful if a court didn’t realize that there is no crime here”.
Dmitry Soloviev, Oborona Coordinator in Kemerovo region, is accused of “inciting hatred, hostility and degrading” the police and FSB by posting several entries in his LiveJournal blog. The criminal case based on an FSB report was opened on August 11th by the regional prosecutor office. Police and FSB have already conducted a search at Dmitry’s home and work, confiscated his computer, disks and Oborona’s printed materials, and questioned him. Dmitry may face up to 2 years imprisonment according to the anti-extremist legislation.
The entries that FSB considered “extremist” in fact contain no incitement to violence or even strong words. Here they are (in Russian):
This is not the first such case. Several weeks ago, another blogger Savva Terentyev was sentenced to a 1 year of suspended imprisonment also for “inciting hatred” against the police in a LiveJournal comment. Russian Internet community seems alarmed by these cases because it makes millions of Russian bloggers potential “extremists”. Police is one of the most unpopular insitution in the country, despised by many for human rights abuses, inefficiency and corruption. Until recently, Internet and blogs remained the last media where Russian citizens could discuss these problems. Looks like the FSB have decided to put an end to this “unnecessary” freedom.
See more on this on Oborona’s Web site (in Russian).