This blog supports and follows the work of Baikal Environmental Wave, an NGO based in Irkutsk, Siberia. Baikal Wave have been working to save Lake Baikal, the oldest and deepest lake in the world, since 1990. See our recent posts for updates on their work.

Monday, 12 July 2010

Police finally return illegally-seized computers to the Baikal Wave

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.


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  2. why you don´t just use a free and open source version of Linux on your comuters? Like Ubuntu for example? It for free, it is licence free and easy to download from the internet. No one could accuse you of copy right violation anymore, as the linux software has no copyright which could be violated. (www.ubuntu.com) It would avoid problems like this for the future. By the way: it is also quite easy to encrypted your data on comuters in a very secure way with Linux and to safeguard your privacy and information. It´s just a hint. Best wishes and good luck for your work from Berlin, Germany!