Russian Bloggers Create Trade Union

Oleg Kozyrev. Source: lenizdat.ruRussian bloggers have created their own trading union, the manifesto of which was posted by Oleg Kozyrev on his blog on November 27.

Kozyrev intends for the union to bring together Russian-language bloggers in an assertion of their rights and freedoms. That aside, he says, it will remain politically independent.

The manifesto enumerates seven “freedoms of bloggers” – of speech, entrepreneurial activity, dissemination of information, authorship, creative self-expression, preservation of content, and assembly. The union would work to defend all bloggers, including creators of podcasts, online videos, and photo galleries, from violations of these freedoms.

The first action of the trade union was to demand the release of jailed journalist and blogger Irek Murtazin.

Kozyrev said that the union will keep track of lawsuits against bloggers and have a database of the development of events. He additionally intends to track legislative initiatives that would have an effect on bloggers, to maintain an archive of correspondence with social and political organizations, and to set up contacts with the media.

The creation of the trade union follows the sentencing of Tartar oppositionist Irek Murtazin, former press secretary of Tartar President Mintimer Shaimiev, to twenty-one months in jail on charges of slander and “violation of the sanctity of private life.” Shaymiev says that Murtazin had disseminated information that he knew to be false, undermining Shaimiev’s reputation and disclosing personal secrets. In particular, Murtazin posted on his blog on September 12 that Shaimiev had unexpectedly died in Turkey.

In a statement to RFE/RL, Murtazin said that the trial was a “theater of the absurd” and that he plans to appeal the verdict. He also said that the decision sets a dangerous precedent for anyone with “any word of criticism” against a Russian leader.

A number of recent arrests of bloggers and have brought internet freedom in Russia into serious doubt. LiveJournal users in one southern Russian region found themselves without access to the website in June after courts ordered an opposition blog to stop publishing. Another blogger was arrested for lewd descriptions of Prime Minister Vladimir Putin.