A Death Foretold (on Wikipedia)

The Russian blogosphere is buzzing with talk about yesterday’s vicious assault on human rights activist Lev Ponomarev in Moscow. One particularly hot topic right now is the sensational discovery that a premature report of Ponomarev’s death appeared, of all places, in his Wikipedia entry before the news of the assault even hit the airwaves and became public knowledge. Here’s what the «Novaya gazeta» website reported at 14:32 Moscow time on 01 April:

… 10 minutes before the appearance in the information agencies of a report on the assault on Ponomarev, a certain anonymous author got onto his page in Wikipedia (the free Internet-encyclopedia) and added there the date of death: 2 April of the year 2009. A ЖЖ [the Russian LiveJournal] user with the nickname terco.livejournal.com removed this inscription. However, the information remained in screen shots. Later, the location of this anonymous author was clarified:

city of Ryazan, precise data: ( –
CJSC “Electro-com Ryazan”
Electro-com Ryazan IT
Gorkogo st, 102b, Ryazan, Russia

The LiveJournal page in question, which has skyrocketed into the top 30 most popular ЖЖ pages in Russia right now, contains the following additional information (beginning with terco’s initial statement):

[April 1, 2009 | 1:08]
A certain anonymous author with the ip-address inWikipedia 10 minutes before the appearance of the report on the beatingin the information agencies wrote down in the article about LevPonomarev the date of death – 2 April 2009. I retracted thiscorrection, but the question remains as to who this anonymous author isand what was driving him?
From: anton_dolidenok
April 1, 2009 6:28 none (UTC)
The given IP belongs to a provider in Ryazan, which can serve asindirect evidence of the involvement in the beating of the NASHIsts,since Ryazan is one of the main centers for the recruitment ofprovocateurs.

In an article on ZakS.ru (“the political life of the North-West”)that presents a digest of the discussion of this topic in the Russianblogosphere, another ЖЖ blogger adds his two kopek’s worth to theRyazan connection:

“And now let’s think back… – iceaxe continues the discussion – Thesheep to the “Solidarity” congress were brought from Ryazan. A wholehunt with the dousing of Vladimir Milov was arranged in Ryazan. Thetransvestite who was chasing after Yashin, and then reappeared in Sochiduring the time of the dousing of Nemtsov, also, according to the dataof “Novaya gazeta”, turned out to be from this fine city. And nowRyazan comes floating back up to the surface in the case about thebeating of Ponomarev. Probably, representatives of the investigationare already preparing for a journey to the oblast center adjoiningMoscow.”

Just to put things in perspective, though, not everybody is outragedor saddened by this cowardly attack by young toughs on an elderly man.Some excerpts from this same ZakS.ru digest of Russian blogospherepostings:

“The beating up of Lev Ponomarev – this is, unconditionally,abhorrent, – considers dark-lawyer – But the presentation of this newsas political with a thick allusion to [unspecified] – this is doublyabhorrent. It seems like all these necrophages, moreover irrespectiveof their political orientation, are just waiting around for someone tomaul, shoot at, poison with coca-cola or seat one of theircomrades-in-arms in jail, so they can once again start wailing about”the work of the system” and “the lynching of inconvenient ones”.

gomofob2008 expresses disfavor towards the activity of LevPonomarev: “Of course, any beating – bad. But the human rightsadvocates have really gotten disgustingly impudent. And it’s high timethey’re put in their place”.

“Judging by the description, this could have been ordinary hooliganstoo, – writes alonna-bud, – And their victim can even be pitied,because nobody is insured against this. But, taking into account thepersonality of the given citizen, my feelings are far from christian.Now, if only someone would do the same to [Sergey] Kovalev, [Elena]Bonner, and [Ludmilla] Alexeeva!”