Microsoft has announced impostors in the case of Anastasia Denisova

Source: (Author), 23/04/10

· Human rights defenders

· Krasnodar region

In response to appeals to Microsoft by the lawyers of Anastasia Denisova, head of the NGO ETHnIKA, concerning the criminal charges brought against her, as well as by human rights defenders and journalists, the company has announced that the plaintiffs acting on behalf of Microsoft had no reason to do so.

The prosecutors of Krasnodar’s Leninsky district have charged Anastasia Denisova with using counterfeit software on computers in the office she rented. Another computer found in the apartment of a friend of Anastasia Denisova, and attributed to her by the investigation, has also been pronounced by experts to contain illegal software. However, the lead prosecutor in the case, Mekhak Melikyan, and his colleagues have failed to provide the court with sufficient evidence to prove the equipment actually belonged to the defendant or that it was used in the work of ETHnIKA. In this connection, Judge Lonshakov, having satisfied the prosecutors’ petition, has sent the case back to them for review.

Anastasia Denisova insists that she is innocent and regrets that she has been deprived of the possibility to work as usual. She also denies that the computers removed from the premises she rents had any connection either to her or to the organization. “Since those were not my computers I really don’t know what software was installed on them, when it was installed, or by whom,” Denisova has said.

“My friends and colleagues and regional government bodies call me a human rights defender,” Anastasia Denisova explained with regard to her work. “But I usually say I am engaged in publicly useful work such as conducting research into the situation of foreign students, or monitoring the situation of ethnic minorities.”

“I can’t exactly tell which of my reports or monitoring activities has acted upon the authorities or law enforcement agencies so strongly that they decided to come down on me with all their punitive machinery. I really don’t know. And neither would they tell me themselves”, says Anastasia Denisova.

In the meanwhile her supporters have become suspicious that the law firm Spektr and its director Dmitry Koshuba, who initially brought the complaint to the authorities about Anastasia Denisova, are not the legal representatives and spokespeople of Microsoft.

Despite numerous appeals made by Anastasia Denisova’s supporters, Microsoft’s Moscow office has not been quick with a response. However, after a number of human rights groups spoke out in defence of Anastasia Denisova, including Memorial Human Rights Centre, Transparency International, Moscow Helsinki Group, Youth Human Rights Movement and a number of authoritative media outlets, the legal department of Microsoft’s Russian office issued a statement.

Aleksandr Strakh, the corporation’s chief lawyer in Russia, has said the interests of the Microsoft corporation concerning questions of the infringement of intellectual property rights are dealt with by a number of representatives.

“The actions of these representatives are strictly regulated by us, and we regularly conduct training for them, including training about the fight against corruption, to ensure that they represent the company in the correct manner. Representatives act on our behalf on the basis of power of attorney, which does not allow them to assign any authority to third parties,” Aleksandr Strakh said.

Furthermore, in reply to an appeal by the supporters of Anastasia Denisova, this lawyer in the field of intellectual property noted: "The actions that you are describing are prohibited and seem to us to be the actions of impostors who claim, with no justification whatsoever, that they represent Microsoft. I would be grateful to you if you could provide me with more detailed information regarding the incidents you have described, so that we could investigate the matter.”

According to Caucasian Knot, during the meeting with Ivan Ninenko, deputy director of Transparency International – Russia, where the issue of combating corruption among Microsoft’s representatives in Russia’s regions was discussed, Aleksandr Strakh said that in the case against Anastasia Denisova the role of Microsoft has been limited to an evaluation of the evidence and the calculation of financial losses.

The lawyer has been handed documents about the role played by the corporation’s representatives in initiating the criminal case against Anastasia Denisova, and questions concerning the accuracy of the calculations of the value of the software. Aleksandr Strakh has promised to provide more details about these issues and noted that Microsoft is trying to support NGOs in Russia by donating software through its Infodonor programme. Microsoft participates in this programme by providing free software.
Rights in Russia,
10 May 2010, 13:26