The Sevastopol USS suspended the work of the Internet provider „Alfa-Telecom“
On 20 August at 19:00 the work of the Internet providing company „Alfa-Telecom“ was suspended by the order of A. Lasitsa, a detective of the special squad for fighting corruption and organized crime functioning at the USS Directorate of Sevastopol. The equipment was switched off, the rooms of the company were sealed. The USS officer confiscated the accounting and other documents of „Alfa-Telecom“, Ltd., as well as 17 system blocks including the mail server. The law-enforcer justified his actions with the Resolution on the arrest and seizure of the equipment, goods and documents of 20 August 2002 and item 4 Article 12 of the Ukrainian Law „On organizational and legal foundations of fighting the organized crime“. The confiscation of the equipment was based on the materials of case No. 53 on obtaining great income with violating the license rules. The act on the seizure and arrest was compiled.
At 14:00 on 20 August 2002 the State Inspection of telecommunications of the Autonomous Republic of the Crimea and the city of Sevastopol conducted the check of the equipment belonging to the Internet providing company „Alfa-Telecom“. Senior inspector V. Viaziantsev compiled the report about the inspection and the Protocol on violating the rules of the production, purchase, installation, building and exploitation of radio electronic means and the use of radio frequencies. The Protocol reads that the inspection discovered the radio transmitting equipment without the permissions for its building and exploitation given by the State committee in charge of frequencies. Thus, „Alfa-Telecom“ violated Article 16 of the Law „On radio frequency resources of Ukraine“ and item 1 Article 146 of the Administrative Code of Ukraine.
The company „Alfa-Telecom“, Ltd. provided the services of radio Ethernet. The administration of the company turned to the State Committee of communications of Ukraine to obtain the needed license and paid the full price of this license, but the question was not solved for a long time. The officials of the Committee more than once confirmed orally that the license would be issued in the nearest future. To accelerate the process of getting the license „Alfa-Telecom“ turned to the Supreme Rada and the Cabinet of Ministers. Prime Minister of Ukraine Anatoliy Kinakh directed the letter to the State Committee of communications, in which he appealed to expedite the process of issuing the license to „Alfa-Telecom“, Ltd.
On 21 August 2002 „Alfa-Telecom“ handed the complaint to the General Prosecutors office of Ukraine, the prosecutors office of Sevastopol and the USS. The complaint concerned the illegal actions of the officers of the special department for fighting the corruption and organized crime at the USS Directorate of Sevastopol.
On 11 September 2002 the response was received from V. Ratsiuk, the head of the Main Directorate for fighting the corruption and organized crime at the USS. In his letter V. Ratsiuk informed that the arrest of the equipment of „Alfa-Telecom“ was imposed for the term of 10 days in the connection with the revealed violations. The investigation department of the Sevastopol USS Directorate and the city prosecutors office organized the check of the facts of violating the procedure of conducting business activities and legalizing money by „Alfa-Telecom“ and, as a result, started the criminal case for investigating the crimes described by Articles 202 part 1 and 209 part 1 of the Criminal Code of Ukraine. The case was started on 10 August 2002.
On 20 September 2002 the company received the letter from S. Gura, the senior deputy of the city prosecutor, who wrote that the equipment that was seized contained the information concerning the financial activities of the company. On 28 August all confiscated documents and equipment were passed from the special squad to the investigation department of the USS.
As a result of the actions of the USS more than 4.5 thousand clients of the Internet provider „Alfa-Telecom“ have no connection with the Internet since 20 August, they lost the access to the mail server and web-hosting. The USS officers got the codes and passwords of the cards for the anonymous access to the network, and now they may control the Internet traffic of the users and their electronic messages.
„Alfa-Telecom“, Ltd. is one of the largest Internet providers in the Crimea. At the expense of the credit given by the European bank of reconstruction and development the company purchased the equipment for transmitting the data through the satellite communication system. For the access to the Internet they used the external channels of their business partners in Norway. The providers planned to widen their activities throughout the Crimea.
Other Internet companies, who provide the services of radio-Internet without the license of the State committee in charge of frequencies, continue to work in Sevastopol.
Up to now the confiscated equipment has not been returned to „Alfa-Telecom“, and the company is on the brink of bankruptcy.
In the connection with the above-described events the Sevastopol human rights protecting group turned with the appeal to the General Prosecutors office of Ukraine, the prosecutors office of Sevastopol, the USS and the ombudsperson.
To the General Prosecutors office of Ukraine
To the prosecutors office of Sevastopol
To the USS
To the ombudsperson
10 October 2002
On 20 August the USS Directorate of Sevastopol suspended the work of the Internet providing company „Alfa-Telecom“, Ltd. The computer equipment was switched off and arrested. As a result of the actions of the USS more than 4.5 thousand clients of the Internet provider „Alfa-Telecom“ since 19:00 of 20 August cannot obtain the paid-up Internet services, they lost the access to the mail server. The USS officers got the access to the codes and passwords of the cards for the anonymous connection to the network, to the Internet traffic of the users and their electronic messages.
The financial damage was inflicted to the scores of Sevastopol enterprises that used the Internet in their business activities; thousands of private persons – clients of the company „Alfa-Telecom“ could not receive and sent their messages, their right for privacy of correspondence was violated.
We think that the meddling in the work of „Alfa-Telecom“ was inadequate: the damage inflicted to the interests of physical and juridical persons, to their rights and freedoms are noticeably greater than the abuses discovered during the check of the company.
We believe that the behavior of the USS violate Article 31 of the Constitution of Ukraine (privacy of correspondence), since the law-enforcers acted without court decision and did not apply any other methods preventing the massive and brutal violation of human rights.
Thus, in our opinion, the principles of non-interference in the private life stipulated by Article 30 of the Ukrainian Constitution and Article 8 of the Convention for the protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms were abused. The actions of the USS violate the privacy of correspondence, telephone talks, telegraph and other correspondence that are passed by means of communication facilities or through computers. These actions form the corpus delicti envisaged by Article 163 of the Criminal Code of Ukraine.
R. Romanov, the executive manager of the Sevastopol human rights protecting group
The Kharkov Group for human rights protection supports their colleagues from Sevastopol and appeals to other human rights protecting organizations to spread the similar letters.