Samara’s Novaya Gazeta newspaper’s work is paralyzed. Police inspected the office of the newspaper to find out if it was using legal software on its computers. As a result the computers were confiscated. Police representatives are not willing to comment on the matter, while the newspaper claims the political background of the issue. Police has confiscated all the computers from the office of Samara’s Novaya Gazeta edition. The newspaper said police presented a paper which allowed them investigating the financial and economic state of the former signed by the head of Samara’s Main Department of Internal Affairs. Police suspect the newspaper in using counterfeit software. “We believe the inspection is due to the coming Russia-EU summit to be held this month in Samara, as well as the “Objectors’ March” scheduled for the same day (May 18th)”, Novaya Gazeta Deputy Editor-in-chief Vitaly Yaroshevsky told CNews. “The thing is one of the organizers and participants of the march is the daughter of the newspaper’s editor-in-chief, Sergei Kurt-Adjiev. This might have attracted the attention of the police, which has been long interested in the newspaper. The inspection is most likely carried out by the local “K” department of the police, which confiscated the computers. And later, the main Department of Internal affairs took away the financial documents. Thus, our work is paralyzed and the next edition of the newspaper will not see light on Monday”.
Novaya Gazeta correspondent, Darya Grigoryan shares Mr. Yaroshevsky’s opinion. She said the police confiscated three computers with counterfeit software installed. “The inspection hasn’t come to an end so far. The police’s official claims were connected with counterfeit Microsoft software. I have Linux installed on my notebook, that is why they didn’t take it away”, said Ms. Grigoryan. Samara’s Main Department of Internal Affairs refused to comment on the issue. They said they would make an official statement when the investigation is over. The day before police confiscated computers from the office of Samara’s Socio-Political Center. Computers were confiscated from office of the association “In defense of voters’ rights “Voice” in the Povolzhye region. Computers are being confiscated in the office of the Regnum-Volgainform news agency, which is situated in the same building with Novaya Gazeta. Besides, tax inspection representatives arrived at Regnum to conduct financial investigation.
The Committee to Protect Journalists has this to say about the incident:
The Committee to Protect Journalists is alarmed by reports that police in the southern Russian city of Samara have raided the local bureaus of the independent newspaper Novaya Gazeta and the independent news agency Regnum. Three journalists with other news organizations were also detained and interrogated, according to news reports. The police actions come one week before a demonstration planned by political opponents in Samara.
“We’re very troubled by these police actions, which appear timed to obstruct news coverage of a planned public demonstration,” CPJ Executive Director Joel Simon said. “This harassment is preventing our colleagues from doing their jobs of informing the public, and it should stop at once.”
Several officers from the Samara Main Internal Affairs Directorate (GUVD) arrived at Novaya Gazeta’s Samara newsroom at noon today, seizing all of its computers and accusing the employees of “using counterfeit software,” the newspaper reported on its Web site. A few hours later, five more officers came to the newsroom and confiscated all of the bureau’s financial records, Novaya Gazeta Samara correspondent Darya Grigoryan reported. Police said they were checking into unspecified criminal violations, Novaya Gazeta reported.
Several independent news Web sites reported a similar seizure of computers at the Samara office of the independent news agency Regnum today.
On Thursday night, local press reports said, officers with the GUVD and the Directorate for Combating Organized Crime detained Pavel Sedakov, correspondent for the independent business daily Kommersant; Kseniya Rusyayeva, correspondent for Ren-TV; and Ren-TV camera operator Maksim Vnukov. The three were interviewing a local leader of the opposition coalition Other Russia, which has planned a “March of the Dissenters” on May 18 in Samara, news reports said.
Police interrogated Sedakov, Rusyayeva, and Vnukov for more than two hours, asking questions about Other Russia and its planned action in Samara. The journalists were later released, according to the local press.
Other Russia, led by former chess champion Garry Kasparov, has staged similar demonstrations in Moscow, St. Petersburg, and Nizhny Novgorod. Each was met with large show of force by Russian police, who sought to block the gatherings.