Police have finally returned computer equipment to Baikal Environmental Wave, five and a half months after they were illegally seized by the authorities.
On the 28th January 2010, after a tip-off from an identified person, police seized system units and laptops from the office of Baikal Environmental Wave, and environmentalists were charged with using counterfeit software. Despite the fact that the software on every computer was in fact licensed, an attempt to initiate a criminal case against the environmentalists was made.
Although the investigation has failed to prove the existence of counterfeit software, the criminal case has not yet closed. The District Court has refused to consider a complaint made by the environmentalists with regard to improper conduct on the part of the police.
Meanwhile, according to confidential information from law enforcement agencies, the police actions were likely triggered by security forces of the Baikal Pulp and Paper Mill (BPPM) and Irkutskenergo. Computers were confiscated from ecologists in the midst of demonstrations and actions against the measure taken by the Russian government to resume production at the BPPM and to resume the unregulated dumping of waste into Baikal. It was during this period that the leadership of the Mill began instigating provocation at mass rallies organized by the ecologists.
The wide international attention and intervention of UNESCO has put the Irkutsk police in an extremely awkward position. Even police officers who had nothing to do with the seizure of computers from the Baikal Wave believe the case was grossly falsified.
This is not the first such "attack" on the Baikal Wave. In 2002, at the initiative of the Yukos oil company, the FSB carried out searches and resided over a similar seizure of computer equipment.