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Chelyabinsk Prosecutor Apologises to Blogger Critical of Authorities for Criminal Prosecution

15 May 2012

Source: Open Information Agency

Sergei Lezhnikov the Prosecutor of Chelyabinsk made an official apology on behalf of the state to blogger Andrei Ermolenko for an unfounded criminal indictment.

In his letter to the civic activist Prosecutor Sergei Lezhnikov also explained that with regards the unlawful criminal prosecution the blogger has the right to apply to the Investigative Committee for Chelyabinsk Region to demand compensation for damage to property and to lodge a compensation claim for moral damages. This was reported by Ermolenko to the Agora Human Rights Association, which has been representing his interests, when he passed on the text of the apology that he had received through the post.

"You have the right to demand that written notifications of the judgements taken acquitting you be sent to your place of work, study or abode. In instances where reports [...] have been published in [...] the media, you are entitled to demand that the relevant media outlet make a report regarding your rehabilititation," Sergei Lezhnikov wrote in the official apology.

You can read the following on this story:

Extremism case against blocker critical of the authorities is closed
Specialists in Chelyabinsk once again judge government officials to be a social group


Our readers will recall that the Investigative Committee for Chelyabinsk Region closed a criminal prosecution due to lack of evidence of a crime against blogger Andrei Ermolenko who was suspected of "inciting hatred and enmity, and also degrading the dignity of a group of persons belonging to a social group" (Article 282 Section 1 of the Russian Criminal Code). A resolution to this effect was brought by Senior Investigator Rustam Gilmanshin. The key argument for the dismissal of the criminal prosecution was an expert appraisal: specialists could find no elements of extremism in the blogger's texts and found that representatives of the Ministry of the Interior, the Prosecutor's Office, the courts, civil servants and State Duma deputies are not a social group.

In the summer of 2009, Andrei Ermolenko published a couple of texts unmasking government officials and law enforcement officers on the Internet entitled: "No - to political impotence" and "We declare war on you!" In April 2011 a search was made of the activist's apartment and a personal computer and other personal property was confiscated. A criminal case was also brought.

Despite the position taken by the Plenum of the Supreme Court of Russia and numerous judgements made by regional investigators and courts, Aleksandr Taradanov Doctor of Social Sciences and Candidate of Philosophical Sciences and head of the University's Sociology Department judged that representatives of the Prosectuor's Office, the courts, the Interior Ministry, civil servants and State Duma deputies are a social group. And his colleague Diana Tsiring the head of the Psychology Department and Candidate of Psychological Sciences discovered statements in the activist's texts "aimed at publicly inciting hatred and enmity, and also the degradation of the dignity of individuals and groups belonging to the category of a social group".

However, at the request of Ermolenko's defence the reports of experts that fundamentally contradicted Taradanov and Tsiring's conclusions were included in the materials to the criminal case. Then, at the end of June 2011, the investigation instigated a second complex linguistic, psychological and sociological expert appraisal at the Southern Urals State University "with regards the existence of substantial contradictions in the conclusions made by various experts and specialists."

As a result of this Anna Ryazanova, Candidate of Psychological Sciences, Assistant Professor at the University's Department of Clinical Psychology, Medical Psychologist 1st Class at the Chelyabinsk Region Special Clinical Psycho-neurological Hospital No.1 and Ekaterina Prilukova, Candidate of Philosophical Sciences, Assistant Professor at the University's Department of Political Science and Member of the Russia Association of Political Scientists, came to the conclusion that Ermolenko's texts contained no assertions or statements aimed at inciting aggressive actions with regards the persons they criticised.

"The question of whether representatives of the Prosecutor's Office, the courts, the Interior Ministry, civil servants and State Duma deputies belong to a specific social or professional group cannot be unequivocally decided within the framework of the investigation into this criminal case in view of the lack of a uniform approach to this question," the specialists declared, citing amongst other things the Ruling of the Plenum of the Supreme Court and the case practice of the European Court of Human Rights. "Representatives of the executive and legislative authorities cannot be deemed social groups".


The ruling closing the criminal prosecution of Andrei Ermolenko can be read here; the conclusions of the experts Aleksandr Taradanov and Diana Tsiring can be read here; and the apology of the Prosecutor of Chelyabinsk here.