Freedom of Speech is the Right of Everybody

179

Statement of the Latvian Russian Union

We have launched a campaing to draw attention of the international community to such a gross violation of freedom of speech by our country as 14-month imprisonment imposed on journalist Yury Alekseev ruled by the first-instance court on October 29.

We have sent our appeals to a number of intergovernmental organizations (the UN, the OSCE, Council of Europe), to all most influential international human rights organizations, including the ones which specialize in freedom of press and protection of journalists, to draw their attention to the case of Yury Alekseev.

We are also initiating the collection of signatures under the appeal by MEPs to the authorities of Latvia to stop Yury Alekseev’s persecution for his journalistic work poorly disguised by the court case.

Yury Alekseev was a deputy of the Riga City Council on behalf of our party in the period from 2005 to 2009.

Yury is a well-known journlaist in Latvia who used to be the editor of the ”Business & Baltia” newspaper and such magazines as the Kommersant Baltic and the Business LV.

Ten years ago Alekseev founded the IMHO-Club Internet portal which was envisaged from the very beginning as a platform to exchange opinions freely. There appeared polemic articles by the Club members as well as detailed comments to them on the webportal daily. The texts by the webportal editor Yury Alekseev were the most striking.

Initially the Internet portal established by Alekseev was covered negatively in the State Security Service annual reports. Then the prosecution of its editor began which resulted in Alekseev being sentenced to imprisonment for allegedly committing criminal offences under Articles 78 (incitement to ethnic hatred), 166 (possession of pornography) and 236 (illegal possession of ammunition) of the Criminal Code of Latvia. The authorities of Latvia have undertaken such interference to journalistic activities ignoring the right to freedom to hold opinions and to receive and impart information and ideas without interference by public authority enshrined in the Constitution of Latvia and in the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union.

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