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In defence of Taras Zelenyak and freedom of speech on the Internet

19.09.2006    source:
Petition to the Russian Human Rights Ombudsperson on behalf of the Novosibirsk forum user charged with inciting inter-ethnic emnity through his unflattering references to Russians

We are collecting signatures for a petition to the Russian Federation Human Rights Ombudsperson

In Russia a Ukrainian, son of a well-known scientist, is being tried. He is charged with making politically incorrect statements against the Russian people on Internet forums.

Our protest, however, is connected in the first instance with the unlawful actions of Russian Internet providers and the Prosecutor’s office.

More details can be found in the petition below and at:


Petition No. 21

To the Human Rights Ombudsperson of the Russian Federation

On Freedom of the Internet in Russia

Dear Human Rights Ombudsperson,

On 11 September 2006 a trial began in Novosibirsk of a citizen of the Russian Federation, Taras Zelenyak, who is charged with inciting inter-ethnic enmity in the Internet.

We are writing to ask you to take the case of Taras Zelenyak under your personal control since we believe that a grave violation of human rights is being committed.

As we learned from publications in the press, the grounds for launching criminal proceedings were commentaries which Zelenyak allegedly left on an Internet forum.

The politically incorrect opinions which the prosecutor is accusing Zelenyak of having expressed are, unfortunately, common in the free virtual realm. There are a great many people who are not especially restrained when choosing their words during discussions.

However in the Internet methods have long been established for exerting influence on people who infringe the rules of Internet etiquette, for example, by the forum moderator banning them from taking part in discussions. Never yet has participation in Internet discussion been, nor should it be, the target of investigations by the security service!

Mr Lukin, we are neither accusing nor justifying Zelenyak. We are concerned rather at how the investigators received evidence in this case.

The Russian company “First Mile” (Zelenyak’s Internet provider) secretly, without a court warrant, monitored the traffic of their user. The results of the monitoring were passed to the local division of the FSB and became the grounds for criminal proceedings.

We consider that the company violated Article 23 of the Constitution of the Russian Federation and Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Monitoring of Internet traffic is equivalent to unsanctioned tapping of telephone conversations or the illicit reading of correspondence. After all, besides his messages on the forum sites, the provider illegally looked at absolutely private information about Mr Zelenyak, including his email correspondence.

Mr Lukin, we consider the case of Taras Zelenyak to be an outrageous case of violation of human rights in the Russian Federation , in particular, the right to inviolability of ones personal life, the right to private correspondence, the right to freedom of opinion, the right to freely receive and circulate information. We view the prosecution of Taras Zelenyak as an attempt by the Russian state machine to place under its control the free Internet realm, as has been done in China, Iran and other undemocratic countries.

We ask you to give your attention to this case. In view of the great public significance of this issue, we would also ask you to provide an official answer to this appeal.

Yours sincerely,

[list of signatures – as of 19 September there are 304 names]

If you would like to sign this petition, please add your names at:

(the information requested there is translated below:

Your first name*:

Your last namer*:



Your E-mail*:

Your e-mail is needed so that we can check your signature. You will receive a letter with a request to confirm your signature. Your address will not be published or passed on to any third party.

[then press the box which has the words  додати підпис [add your signature]

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