Russia's Dissident Bloggers Fear for Their Lives

The gunshot death of a Web journalist heightens alarm about efforts to muzzle dissent on the Internet.

By + More

In April, a court ordered that the site, which formerly used the Russian domain ".ru" and was called Ingushetiya.ru, be shut down for inciting racial hatred. The site's lawyers said last week that a regional organization that manages domain names deleted its registration, though it immediately reappeared using the .org suffix.

And in August, Malsagova fled to Paris with her three teenage sons because she feared for her life.

Bloggers are another group that seems increasingly at risk; two who criticized police and the special services face charges of inciting hatred.

In the case of Dmitry Solovyov from the Kemerovo region, court documents cite five blog posts critical of law enforcers, though the posts often quote material from other sites or repeat anti-Kremlin sentiments that are hardly novel. None calls for violence against law enforcers.

"You can find worse statements than these all the time on the Internet. I don't understand why I've had these problems," says Solovyov, a graduate student.

One possible explanation: He's a member of an opposition movement, Oborona. Solovyov was reluctant to discuss the case as he said his calls are under surveillance.

Savva Terentyev, from Syktyvkar, in the Komi republic, received a one-year suspended sentence in July after posting a comment on a blog calling for Russian policemen to be set on fire. A day after receiving a recent inquiry from a reporter, Terentyev deleted his blog.

In Ingushetia, Yevloyev's death continues to reverberate. It sparked protests, and his relatives, steeped in the traditions of the Caucasus, declared "blood revenge" on the local president and police chief, meaning they intend to answer a killing with a killing.

Malsagova, the editor-in-chief, says that despite her financial difficulties in Paris and her homesickness, Yevloyev's death has only reinforced her sense of purpose. "Our main goal is that site must live, despite everything. Despite the attempts to block us, to arrest us. The site must live."