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Magazine publisher and son harassed, threatened for reporting on illegal wiretapping by Omsk region's organised crime prevention unit

(CJES/IFEX) - Sergei Suslikov, the owner of the Omsk publishing house TTIES and founder of the magazine "Biznes Kurs", has written an open letter to the Omsk region's prosecutor, Sergei Kazakov, saying he is being pressured by officials from the local department for the prevention of organized crime over articles criticizing the department.

Suslikov told CJES the pressure began after "Biznes Kurs" ran an article accusing the department for the prevention of organized crime of illegally tapping people's phones. The article contained a transcript of one of the calls tapped by the department. According to Suslikov, the transcript had already been made public in court and was therefore not confidential information.

"Nevertheless, the department for the prevention of organized crime did not like that. And they started putting pressure on me. My son has recently been attacked. And it was not a case of robbery as the attackers did not take any of my son's things. Before that, my son's business had been constantly checked by the authorities. In addition, my son's lawyer was urged to advise me not to publish anything negative on the department for the prevention of organized crime, [which is] threatening to open a criminal case against me," said Suslikov.

Suslikov said he has to print the paper in Novosibirsk because he is receiving threats that the papers will be seized. "For this reason, we have asked the region's prosecutor to punish officials from the department for the prevention of organized crime who are exceeding their powers, encroaching on freedom of the media, and impeding the professional activities of journalists. But the pressure did not end at that. After we made our request to the prosecutor's office, three lawsuits were filed by the Omsk interior affair department and the department for the prevention of organized crime, which accused us of slander and harming the reputation of the head of the interior affairs department and the head of the department for the prevention of organized crime. The plaintiffs are seeking to recover from us a total of 240,000 rubles (approx. US$9,200). However, we have no intention of losing these cases because we know we are right. And they know it too, they are just doing it to keep us from working and put pressure on us," said Suslikov.

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