[Note – yesterday we did a blog post about the case of a Russian blogger who is being criminally charged for something he wrote on LiveJournal – now we are pleased to bring you an exclusive (for now) translation of the original Kommersant article. UPDATE: Russophobe posts the exact text of Terentyev’s comment]
Filter the Magazine – Procuracy Threatens Blogger with Two Years of Jail NEWSPAPER “KOMMERSANT” № 143(3719) OF 13.08.2007 By Alexey Lazarev, Syktyvkar; Alexander Voronov The procuracy of Syktyvkar (Republic of Komi) has filed charges under the article “Arousing hatred or enmity” against Savva Terentyev because he had commented unflatteringly about the local police on one of the internet blogs. This is the first criminal case in Russia opened for a commentary in a web journal, for which mister Terentiev may get two years of deprivation of liberty. The procuracy of Komi has filed charges against blogger Savva Terentyev under Art. 282.1 of the CC RF (“Arousing hatred or enmity, and equally denigration of human dignity”). This article envisions punishment in the form of a fine of up to 300 thsd. rubles or deprivation of liberty for a term of up to two years. The case in relation to Savva Terentyev was initiated by the procuracy of Syktyvkar in the spring of this year (Kommersant reported about this on 13 April). As is said in the decree of the procuracy on the initiation of the case, serving as the basis was “browsing of freely circulating information in the internet network”. In the decree it is reported that on 15 February on the blog under the name suranov of the site livejournal.com (“LiveJournal”), policemen uncovered “news under the heading ‘Cyberpolice being used at elections’”, in which “a user using the pseudonym terentyev left a commentary containing a call directly aimed at arousing hatred or enmity”. What specifically terentyev had written and who he is exactly is not indicated in the decree. During the course of a discussion of the role of the police in the activity of local opposition newspapers, terentyev left an extremely unflattering comment about the law-enforcement organs, in part calling for “a purging of society from a purging of society from filthy cop scum.” Soon after the initiation of the case, policemen paid a visit to the apartment of Savva Terentyev and confiscated a computer from him. The blogger was interrogated by an investigator for particularly important cases of the procuracy of Syktyvkar, who took from him a signed pledge not to leave town. At the present time, the case is already being conducted by a third investigator, who is the one who filed the official charges against mister Terentyev. Senior assistant of the procurator of Komi for relations with the mass media Yuri Knyazev elucidated the necessity for punishing the blogger to Kommersant thus: “In the internet they have shut off all the brakes, anything you want they can write. And this is a crime.” By the way, mister Knyazev declared then that his agency still had to clarify whether it was Savva Terentyev specifically who had left the criminally punishable message on the blog. As was clarified subsequently, the Syktyvkaran procurators did not really have a clear picture of how this is done. At any rate, in the capacity of experts they brought in not internet providers (capable of determining from what specific computer the message on the blog had been left), but philologists of Syktyvkar state university, who never were able to figure out who specifically had left the message the procuracy did not like on the blog. We will note that this is the first criminal case in Russia opened for commentaries in a web journal. Anton Nosik, head of the blogs service of the company SUP Fabrik, which manages the Russian segment of LiveJournal, considers the charges against the blogger “absurd”. “The ignorance of district judges often plays a role in the outcome of cases associated with the internet, so this will be a test of the internet literacy of the courts of the Republic of Komi. This trial will become the most reverberatory in Komi in the past thousand years, and I hope that in the presence of a multitude of journalists, the judge will examine the case on the merits, and will not simply rubber-stamp a guilty verdict”. Mister Terentyev himself has declared that he “hadn’t planned to foment anything at all even in my wildest dreams”, and has reported that as of Monday he is embarking upon familiarization with the case materials.