Dangers of blogging in Russia

About two months ago a Russian blogger Savva Terentyev was sentenced to one-year probation for a comment that, according to the judge, was "inciting enmity and publicly humiliating representatives of a social group" (social group being the police, I assume). The details of the case may be found in the article by Veronika Khokhlova: One Year Sentence for Blog Comment. She also translated the comment Terentyev was convicted for:

I don't agree with the thesis that “policemen still have the mentality of a repressive stick in the hands of the powers that be.” First, they are cops [menty, not militsionery, a less respectful way to refer to police]. Second, their mentality isn't still here. It's simply ineradicable. Once a musor [a synonym for ment; non-slang meaning of the word is “trash”], always a musor, even in Africa. Those who become cops [menty] - rednecks and thugs - are the dumbest and least educated representatives of the live/animal world. Would be great if there was an oven, similar to those in Auschwitz, in the center of every Russian city, at the main square (in Syktyvkar, right in the center of Stefanovskaya, where the New Year's tree stands, so that everyone could see), and there'd be a daily ceremony - or, even better, twice a day (at noon and midnight, for example) - of burning a dishonest cop [ment] there. The people would be doing the burning. This would be the first step towards cleansing the society of the dirt that the thuggish cops are.

Now, another blogger is being accused of the same crime. But this time he "incited enmity" to FSB. The "Moscow Times" wrote:

Activist Placed Under Investigation for Blog

Kemerovo prosecutors have opened a criminal investigation into the activities of an opposition activist, following allegations that he made offensive comments about law enforcement officers in a blog.

The blogger, Dmitry Solovyov, coordinator of the Kemerovo region branch of the Oborona movement, faces up to two years in prison if charged and convicted.

Oborona's Moscow coordinator, Oleg Kozlovsky, said the case was an attempt to intimidate members of the movement, which has regularly participated in rallies staged by The Other Russia opposition coalition. "This is an attempt to put pressure on Oborona, both at the local and federal levels," Kozlovsky said Friday.

Solovyov is suspected of libeling and inciting hatred against police and Federal Security Service officers in his posts on LiveJournal, Kozlovsky said.

He said the Kemerovo region branch of the Investigative Committee opened the case on Aug. 11 at the request of the FSB's local branch and that the postings in question were made from December 2006 to June of this year under the nickname "dimon77."

Irina Khakova, a spokeswoman for the regional branch of the Investigative Committee, said she had no information about the case. No one was available for comment at the regional offices of the Interior Ministry or the FSB Friday afternoon.

Kozlovsky said he had a copy of the order opening the investigation but refused to provide it for fear of compromising Solovyov. He did say the document contained links to the blog entries in question.

An entry from March, titled "The People in Gray Won't Break Oborona," accuses Interior Ministry and FSB officers of silencing opposition, delivering "unjust verdicts," "beating confessions out" of people, intimidation and committing dissenters to psychiatric asylums.

Solovyov did not author the contents of the March posting but instead quoted a piece by another blogger, citing the original.

Examined Friday, none of the posts in Solovyov's blog referencing the Interior Ministry or FSB contained insulting epithets or incitement to violence.

Kozlovsky said Solovyov would not comment for fear of harming his case.

Anton Nosik, director of SUP, the Internet provider for LiveJournal.com in Russia, said a conviction for Solovyov would endanger freedom of speech on the web.

"It would be frightful if a court didn't realize that there is no crime here," Nosik said.

Andrei Richter, head of Moscow's Media Law and Policy Institute, said the cases of Solovyov and Komi republic blogger Savva Terentyev, who was handed a one-year suspended prison sentence in July for inciting hatred against the police, represented "a dangerous trend."

"People will be afraid to voice their opinions," Richter said.

Russian LiveJournal users formed a support group to help Dmitry Solovyov. The first article says (translation taken from ChtoDelat blog:

On August 5, Kemerovo blogger Dmitry Solovyov was charged with violation of the notorious Article 282 Part 1 of the Russian Federation Criminal Code. The regional prosecutor’s office accuses him of publishing several posts, under the nickname dimon77, that “incite hatred and enmity towards, and debase the dignity of, employees of the organs of the Interior Ministory and the FSB.” [One example of such “extremist” posts has been translated, below.]

On August 12, Dmitry’s home was searched. Police confiscated computer equipment and Oborona stickers. FSB officers participated in the search, and criminal charges were filed at their behest. The case is being investigated by R.I. Shlegel, senior special cases investigator and a Class I jurist.

The siloviki have clearly decided to make the Savva Terentiev case a precedent. Which of us hasn’t written something bad about a particular “social group”? If we don’t help Dmitry now, then tomorrow they might come for any of us.

Any help is welcome. We need a lawyer, we need experts to conduct an independent assessment of the evidence, and we need funds for all this. And, of course, we need the support of journalists and the blogger community so that the prosecutor’s office won’t get away with punishing yet another LJista on the sly.

Here is one of the articles written by Solovyov, which might make him a criminal:

The Men in Grey Won’t Break Oborona

You think that with a stupid “Not allowed!” you can destroy an organization? It won’t work. You have been dragged into a a game you know you cannot win. You’re setting up your brown bear protégé. You’ll keep going until some Merkel or Bush calls on the phone and whispers “Stop it!” into the receiver. And then, although you now stand on every corner spreading the stinky mantra, “Russia will never be brought to its knees. Russia will not permit itself to be ruled from abroad,” you’ll come to attention like good lads, salute, and bellow out, “Yes, sir!” Just like you bellowed last year, when the June March [of the Dissenters] was permitted at the request of the German chancellor. Or like you bellowed a month ago, when you transferred [Vasily] Aleksanyan [a severely ill lawyer and ex-Yukos executive in police custody since 2006] to a clinic at the request of the American president.

You admit it: you’re not capable of any sort of dialogue with the opposition. For you, we are the spawn of hell. Go ahead, be afraid: sooner or later you’ll return to the hole you crawled out of in 1999.

On 2 December [2007] and 2 March [2008—the dates, respectively, of Russian parliamentary and presidential elections] you once and for all dispelled our remaining illusions. Anyone capable of thinking no longer believes you. And those who can’t think for themselves will all the same end up getting hit over the head by you. The recent Moscow action against “persons of Slavic complexion”—when you arrested minors and fingerprinted them as if they were criminals—showed a lot of such people what ordinary folks—people who go a mile out of their way to avoid politics and think that if they don’t stick out their necks they’ll be left alone—can expect from you.

You’re sure that the best way of communicating with a citizen is when his mouth his taped shut. Fine: you’ve shut him up; you’ve handcuffed him and tied his legs to a chair. And what have you got? This is what you call sovereign democracy? This is what you advertise at all the international forums as stability? No, you’re afraid. You tremble in the fear that everyone will find out what you’ve turned a free country into in the space of eight years. How many innocent people sit in pre-trial detention waiting for unjust verdicts? How many people have been maimed and how many people murdered at police stations, where they were forced to confess to crimes they didn’t commit, and all for the sake of monthly crime fighting statistics? What kind of quota have you already set for charging people with violation of article 282 [of the Russian Federation Criminal Code, which outlaws the incitement of ethnic, racial or religious hatred]? Was Savva Terentiev a test run? How many such Savvas are you prepared to enfold in your iron embrace?

Then there is your success in the battle against extremists: since the new year, thirty-seven ethnically motivated murders have been committed in Moscow. Moreoever, this is what you want: it is easier to persuade ordinary folks of your own indispensability by racheting up the fear.

You have managed to drag back into the world an abomination that only ten years ago we thought had surely gone away forever—the psikhushki [punitive psychiatric detention]. Andropov’s favorite creation. Or is any comparison with that unforgettable KGB agent like music to your ears? What have you yourselves become? Have you forgotten how this all ends? Don’t be naïve: you won’t escape the danger a second time. A blind, cruel man is incapable of seeing the light and feeling compassion. And you yourselves know what is done in such cases.

Note also an interesting comment made by the authors of ChtoDelat, which might explain the real reasons for the accusations of Solovyov:

We should also point out that on July 4, dimon77 made the following entry in his Live Journal:


Moscow begins military action against Georgia in late August

Well, who out there has gotten homesick for war? Here you go: soon, quite soon you’ll get the chance [to get over your homesickness]:

Moscow begins military action against Georgia in late August

The link leads to an entry in a LiveJournal entitled The End of the Age of Pu


which in turn cites in full an article from the notorious, pro-Chechen website Kavkaz Tsentr:


The article, also dated 4 July 2008, claims that:

  • Vladimir Putin made the decision to take military action against Georgia before Dmitry Medvedev was elected president;
  • Intensive preparation for war had been underway at all levels for several months, and this preparation was being coordinated by Putin himself;
  • The primary goal of military operations was to seize the Kordori Gorge area (in “upper” Abkhazia) and to maximally weaken or topple the Saakashvili regime;
  • Military actions would commence between August 20 and September 10, and would be preceded by a ratcheting up of the number and intensity of clashes between Abkhazians and Georgians;
  • This intensification would include terrorist attacks involving casualties, both in Abkhazia and in Russia itself;
  • According to one scenario, a major terrorist attack for which the Georgian secret services would be blamed would occur in Sochi, Russia;
  • After the successful seizure of the Kordori Gorge, military actions would commence in the Tsinkhvali area, with the goal of displacing both Georgian military units stationed there and the ethnic Georgian population.

On the morning of August 7, in fact, a bomb exploded on a beach in the village of Loo, near Sochi. Two people were killed, and thirteen wounded.

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