Archive for July, 2011

24
Jul
11

Russian blogger gets political asylum in Estonia

Russian musician and blogger Savva Terentyev, convicted in 2008 of inciting hatred against police, was granted political asylum by Estonian immigration authorities on July 11.

The decision by the Police and Border Guard will allow Terentyev, his wife and his son, who have been living in Estonia since January, to remain in the country for three years.

In July 2008, a court in Terentyev’s native Syktyvkar in Russia’s Komi district found him guilty of “inciting enmity and publicly humiliating representatives of a social group,” and sentenced him to a one-year suspended jail sentence.

The year prior, then 21-year-old Terentyev posted a comment on an acquaintance’s Live Journal blog in response to a report on the blog of a police raid on a local opposition newspaper. Terentyev was highly critical of the police, calling for daily ceremonies in the center of every Russian city where one dishonest cop would be burned.

The case against him began six months later.

Terentyev’s conviction sent shockwaves through the Russian internet community as it was the country’s first criminal case based on a blog comment. The case has also been cited by international rights groups such as Reporters Without Borders, Freedom House and Human Rights Watch, whose reports Terentyev submitted along with his application for asylum, according to the BBC’s Russian service.

In an interview with the BBC, Terentyev said he has had difficulty finding work since his conviction due to the bad reputation he received, and has no plans to go back to Russia in the future. “All this ended with my receiving the right to live in Europe and now I can freely travel in the territory of the CIS as well as the EU,” he said.

Though he still believes he did not break the law in making his comments, Terentyev expressed regrets for making them. “I didn’t recognize, and I still do not recognize, that it was a violation of the law,” he said. “But now I wouldn’t write that, simply because I have a different mood than I had four years ago. I already admitted in court that it was pure stupidity. But for a personal correspondence between two young people it was perfectly normal.”

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13
Jul
11

In 2012, an election and a good shower for Putin

The 2012 presidential will be dirty… literally dirty, warned Prime Minister Vladimir Putin whose plans for 2012 are “an election and a shower”. A new hint that the Russian strongman will be seeking for presidency next March.

Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin warned on Thursday that the March 2012 presidential election campaign would be dirty, but stopped short of saying whether he would seek another stint as Kremlin chief.

Putin, Russia’s most popular politician, made clear he would play a significant role in the election but told supporters he would need to cleanse politics after the campaign.

“I shall go to wash, in the hygienic sense of the word but also in the political sense,” Putin said, when asked at a regional conference of his ruling United Russia party what he would do the day after the March presidential election.

“After all the campaigns which we shall have to endure, you have to be properly hygienic. Unfortunately, this is an inevitable process,” he said.

“As Churchill said: Democracy is the worst form of government but there is no better one,” Putin said in the Urals city of Yekaterinburg.

Putin and his protege, President Dmitry Medvedev, have both repeatedly refused to say which of them will run in the March 2012 presidential election, which follows a parliamentary election in December.

06
Jul
11

Yulia Tymoshenko: an iron woman in trouble

Things ain’t getting better for Batkivshchyna Party leader Yulia Tymoshenko who is facing a trial in Ukrain. The former prime minister has said she plans to ask the court for a one month extension so that defense lawyer Mykola Tytarenko can review the materials of the criminal case against her.

“Everyone understands that if a defense lawyer is given one day to read 4,000 pages, that this is a dishonest and unfair trial. Today we will insist that my lawyer be given the opportunity, as provided by law, a month to familiarize himself with this criminal case,” Yulia Tymoshenko said before the start of today’s court session, reads Tymoshenko’s website.

Yulia Tymoshenko said that this time is needed to prepare their line of defense.

“Of course there was no crime, but we have to be ready to defend ourselves against the regime and the system of political repression,” she added.

Ukrainian security service says it has opened a criminal investigation into the activities of an energy company once headed by Tymoshenko.

The new probe focuses on whether former Cabinet officials and employees of United Energy Systems of Ukraine, a firm managed by Tymoshenko in the mid 1990s, embezzled $405 million.
Tymoshenko has been charged with abuse of office in signing a deal with Moscow to buy Russian natural gas at prices investigators said were too high.

She denies the charges, and describes them as a political plot by her rival, President Viktor Yanukovych, to keep her out of upcoming parliamentary and presidential elections.

The United States and the European Union have condemned the cases against Tymoshenko and a number of her top allies as selective prosecution of political opponents.