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13.09.2006

A Ukrainian accused of calling Russians names on the Internet is facing trial in Russia

   

On 11 September in the Sovyetsky District Court in Novosibirsk the first hearing was held into a charges of inciting inter-ethnic enmity on the Internet..  Resident of Akademgorodok Taras Zelenyak faces up to two years imprisonment for circulating ideas about the superiority of Ukrainians over Russians on a website forum.

The accused himself denies being the author of the commentaries which were reported to the law enforcement agencies by his Internet provider.

The court hearing began with details about the accused. When the presiding judge Anna Garaeva asked what his nationality was, 36-year-old Taras Zelenyak said that he did not consider himself to be Russian. He claimed to have rejected his Russian citizenship in 1999.  He had informed police officers who had visited him from the military commission to find out why he was not on their register.

The formal charges claim that from January 2005 Internet user Taras Zelenyak, under the username novosibirsk-2 used the Russian-language forum of the Ukrainian website www.proua.com giving commentaries about various events in public and political life in Russian and Ukraine. The prosecutor’s representatives allege that Mr Zelenyak’s commentaries clearly express the opinion of the “superiority of the Ukrainian nation over the Russian”, that they propagate hatred towards Russians, that they are teeming with the words “moskal”, “katsap”[1] .  The investigators cited the question “Who will tolerate Russian swinishness in a Muslim republic?” allegedly put by Taras Zelenyak about events in Chechnya.

At the beginning of the year the provider  “First mile”, whose services Taras Zelenyak used for access to the Internet from his personal computer, approached the law enforcement agencies with a statement about the alleged propagandist activities of one of their customers. In February according to the material of the Novosibirsk department of the FSB, the prosecutor’s office of the Radyansky district launched a criminal investigation under Article 282 § 1  (Incitement of ethnic, racial and religious enmity”) and Taras Zelenyak  was arrested. The investigators removed his computer which allegedly held the commentaries of its owner. A linguistic analysis declared the words to be offensive.

The accused was given a psychiatric examination. According to an aide from the Sovyetsky district prosecutor’s office, Sergei Samulin, the experts pointed out his “permanent feeling of being isolating and his desire to show how original he was”. The psychiatrists did not find any psychological disorder.

When the charges were announced, the defendant said that he would prove his innocence in the court. He denied being the author of the commentaries in question. His defence lawyer believes that this can only be proved by removing the server of the information portal. Since the witnesses summoned did not appear, Anna Garaeva adjourned the hearing until 4 October.

 

On its part the editorial board of  «proUA» have stated that their provider has not been asked by the law enforcement agencies for any information or assistance.

As could be expected, there is presently very animated discussion of this affair on their forum site!



[1]  Neither of these two words are in themselves especially offensive, one coming from the word for “Moscow”, and the other having historical roots.  Both are simply derogatory terms these days for Russians.  [translator’s note]

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