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Blogger faces criminal charges over on-line writings about law enforcement officials

(CJES/IFEX) - The Syktyvkar prosecutor's office (Komi Republic) has filed criminal charges against Internet blogger Savva Terentyev for allegedly violating Article 282 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation. The article refers to "fanning hatred or a feud" and "belittling a person's dignity".

The charges were brought against Terentyev over a posting on the LiveJournal blog, in which he criticised law enforcement officials, has reported.

The law enforcement agencies have proven that Terentyev is the author of the offensive statements by studying his school essays. Terentyev has been asked to provide a written statement promising he will not leave the city, Yury Knyazev, a senior aide to the republic's prosecutor, told "The materials will soon be forwarded to his lawyer so he can become familiar with them, and then a trial will be held," Knyazev told The blogger faces a fine in the amount of 200,000 rubles (approx. US$7,760) or up to five years in a penal colony if convicted of the charges.

Knyazev said proudly that this is the first time charges have been brought against a person over a statement made in an Internet blog. "The Internet is full of garbage (. . .) There should be some order," he said.

The criminal case against the blogger was opened after one of his readers filed a complaint with the prosecutor's office. According to the investigators, Terentyev criticised the police in journalist Boris Suranov's blog. Among other things, Terentyev criticised the actions taken by the police on 14 February 2007, when they raided the office of the "Iskra" opposition newspaper and confiscated six hard discs, thus preventing the paper's publication.

Anton Nosik, head of the blog service of the Sup Fabrik company, which runs the Russian segment of LiveJournal, told that he believes the case is connected to a political struggle.

Nosik pointed out that the blogger's troubles began after he accused the local authorities and police, specifically the K department of the Interior Ministry (which specialises in computer crimes), of persecuting "Iskra".

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