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Russia12 February 2008

Opposition weekly’s computers seized in raid

Reporters Without Borders protested strongly today at a raid by legal officials on the offices of the opposition weekly paper Minuty Veka (formerly Novy Peterburg) in which all its computers, as well as administrative documents and its archives since 1997 were seized, on the pretext that it did not have computer licences.

“We deplore this increasingly common practice in Russia,” the worldwide press freedom organisation said. “The authorities are preventing the appearance of opposition papers by claiming to fight computer piracy. Even if Minuty Veka did not have all its equipment licenced, this is no reason to close it down.”

The 6 February swoop prevented that week’s issue from coming out the next day and the 14 February issue is in doubt. Editor Alexei Andreyev said the raid was linked to the imprisonment of one of the paper’s founders, Nikolai Andrushenko, and because its editorial line.

He said Novy Peterburg stopped coming out on 29 November last year, five days after Andrushenko was arrested, but was replaced by a new paper, Minuty Veka.

Andrushenko’s home and the paper’s offices were searched and a court accused him of printing “dubious” and “insulting” articles and exerting pressure on legal institutions.

He was taken to a psychiatric hospital for tests on 18 December and was held there until 16 January. He wrote to President Vladimir Putin on 4 February saying he wanted to renounce his Russian citizenship because he had been beaten several times in prison.

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