Comments made by Senior Associate Evgeny Zverev to an article titled “SMARTS versus Mavrodi”

17 February 2011

Volgograd-GSM (SMARTS brand), a mobile operator and Internet provider has voluntary restricted access to blog run by Sergey Mavrodi, the infamous businessman, without waiting the court to deliver judgement on the issue. It is the first case of web site blocking, however, it seems that it will be followed by other cases.

The Volgograd Public Prosecutor's Office has ten times sued diverse providers in Volgograd central district court requiring them to block Sergey Mavrodi's website. These statements of claim are said to be based on results of prosecutor's investigation.

In the middle of January Mr. Mavrodi announced that he is launching his new project titled “МММ-2011”. He promised up to 360 % per annum to participants of the project: monthly uncome of 30 % to retirees, while any non-retiree shall receive 20% per month. The profit shall be derived from the funds invested by other participants. Sergey Mavrodi gave an express warning that he is meaning a pyramid scheme and proposes people to become its participants.

“According to Article 34 of the Constitution of International Telecommunication Union a Member States reserve the right to stop the transmission of any private telegram which may appear dangerous to the security of the State or contrary to its laws, to public order or to decency” – said public prosecutors. They also refer to opinion of acting The Head of regional office of The Federal Financial Markets Service of Russia in Southern Federal District which is indicative of a real threat of inflicting property damage on persons which accept conditions of “МММ-2011”.

In the course of action proceedings, Volgograd-GSM company, without waiting for the court to pronounce judgement, decisions, has announced that they shall voluntary carry out requirements of the prosecutor's office, by submitting the evidence that the access to МММ-2011 web site was blocked. It is the first case of blocking of this web site known by now.

Sergey Mavrodi was very emotional on this subject: “How is it possible that a site authorized in Moscow, in the very center (of the state), a bulwark of justice! (sort of, the office of the prosecutor general is here, along with any other supervisory authorities), is forbidden in this jerk town of Volgograd? Or may be they have laws of their own? The Volgograd laws? Other than the legislation of the RF? So, they may have their own constitution, too? If a website is illegal – then you should close it! If this were not the case – then any access restriction is illegal, no matter who is the restricting person! Isn’t that clear?" (It is to be noted that Mavrodi’s blog is located at the blogger service (Blogspot) provided by Google, and the American browser undertook no actions that may restrict operation of the webblog.)

Moreover, Sergey Mavrodi declares that such restriction is an express violation of chapter 2, article 29 of the Constitution of the RF which stipulates for free search, acquisition, production and communication of information.

Evgeny Zverev, Senior Associate of the law firm S&K Vertical believes that the reference to the Constitution of International Telecommunication Union made by the office of the prosecutor general is doubtful one.

This Constitution is unlikely to be a legal instrument with direct effect, - said the lawyer - it rather suggests that the state has a right to lay dawn the respective  law, while in Russia there is no law regulating in details human activity in the Internet network, (fortunately or unfortunately). And it is a separate issue - whether an opinion advanced by a state agency on illegality of information spread via electronic means of communication is enough. In this case, the defendant provider, who “waved the white flag” and admitted the claim, has significantly facilitated the work of public prosecutors, however, as far as I know, Sergey Panteleevich made no attempt to aid, or to dispute the decision as infringing his rights.”

We didn’t manage to contact Volgograd-GSM representatives yesterday. Several Petersburg Internet providers refused to comment on the situation.

“In fact, no provider shall be likely to quarrel with the Public Prosecutor's Office, should the latter present such claims – said Andrey Guk, the director general of OBIT company specializing in telecommunication solutions for business clients - I can add that our company never procured an order to block a web site.”

Other 9 statements of claim filed by the Volgograd Public Prosecutor's Office are currently under judicial scrutiny.

Aleksey Tsoy

Telecom blog

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