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Dossier Center List
On April 6, 2018, the U.S. Treasury Department imposed new sanctions against 24 Russians, including businessmen and government officials from Vladimir Putin’s inner circle. We believe it would be wrong to rely solely on the opinion of a foreign government. The Dossier Center publishes its own list of possible organizers of the Kremlin OCG and their likely accomplices with brief profiles.
Aleksandr Aleksandrovich Zharov
head of Roskomnadzor
Date and Place of Birth
August 11, 1964, Chelyabinsk, USSR
Why on the list
Participation and complicity in the activities of the organized criminal community, established with the purpose of systematic commission of especially dangerous crimes, directed against the foundations of the constitutional system and state security, state power and interests of state service, justice, as well as against peace and security.
While heading Roskomnadzor, Alexander Zharov allegedly took decisions regarding control over information technology, communications and mass media, which directly contradicted Article 29.4 of the Russian Constitution, according to which “everyone has the right to freely seek, receive, transmit, produce and disseminate information by any lawful means. During Zharov’s tenure, the “Lugovoi Law” came into force, allowing Roskomnadzor to immediately block websites without a court decision, thereby limiting people’s right to access information and violating the constitutional ban on political censorship.
On March 13, 2014, Roskomnadzor added the opposition resources Grani.ru, Kasparov.ru, and EJ.Ru to the register of banned sites, arguing that they contain “calls for illegal activities and participation in mass events held in violation of the established order. On the same day, Alexei Navalny’s blog in ZHG was also blocked. In December 2017, websites associated with the Open Russia movement were blacklisted by Roskomnadzor. According to the movement’s founder Mikhail Khodorkovsky, the blocking of resources violates constitutional norms on freedom of speech and is a criminal offense against the order of government, in particular, there is abuse of office in the actions of officials.
According to Meduza, in executing decisions restricting access to information, Roskomnadzor officials interact with the presidential administration to make decisions regarding political resources.
In the summer of 2017, a law was passed banning the use of VPN services to access information banned in Russia, which prescribes services to interfere with user traffic and block access to sites. In January 2018, a law came into force regulating the activity of mobile messengers, which obliges services to identify users. At the request of Roskomnadzor, messengers are obliged to limit the ability of users to send messages within a day.
According to RBC, in April 2017 Roskomnadzor decided to block the application Zello in Russia; presumably, this measure was taken to prevent protests of truck drivers. In May 2017, Roskomnadzor blocked BlackBerry Messenger, Imo, Line, and Vchat.
In June 2017, a vulnerability was discovered in Roskomnadzor’s registry, allowing sites not included in the registry to be blocked. According to Meduza, this resulted in the blocked servers of a number of Russian banks, in particular Sberbank, Rosbank, and Avangard, among those blocked in Russia.
In November 2014, Roskomnadzor issued a warning to Echo Moskvy radio station in connection with its “positive assessment” of the Ukrainian Right Sector, which, according to Zharov, “was recognized as an extremist organization in Russia by a decision of the General Prosecutor’s Office. However, according to the Sova Information and Analysis Center, Right Sector was added to the list of extremist organizations only a few weeks after it aired, and no positive characterizations of Right Sector were heard on the radio station itself.
In April 2015, the hacker group Anonymous International released about 2,000 emails, allegedly belonging to Alexander Zharov, which, among other things, contained information about possible lobbying for the television channel Spas, pressure from Roskomnadzor and the presidential administration on the TV channel Dozhd and the revocation of the license of Ekho Peterburga.
In June 2017, the head of Roskomnadzor Alexander Zharov published an open letter to Pavel Durov, warning him about the possible blocking of the Telegram messenger. In March 2018, Roskomnadzor sent a formal notice to Telegram Messenger Limited, requiring the company to provide the FSB with keys to decode messages. Telegram refused to comply with the requirements, believing that they contradicted the Constitution of the Russian Federation. In early April, Roskomnadzor asked the court to immediately block Telegram messenger. Moscow’s Tagansky District Court upheld Roskomnadzor’s suit on April 13.
Possible violations of the law
Alexander Zharov’s actions may contain indications of the following corpus delicti under the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation:
- Art. 210 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation “Organization or participation in a criminal association (criminal organization)”, i.e. participation in the activities of a criminal association established for the purpose of the forcible unlawful retention of power contrary to the requirements of the Russian Constitution, and the systematic commission of other crimes against authority, justice, interests of service and peace.
- Art. 136. Violation of Equality of Rights and Freedoms of Man and Citizen “Discrimination, that is the violation of rights, freedoms and legitimate interests of man and citizen on the basis of his sex, race, nationality, language, origin, property and official status, place of residence, attitude to religion, beliefs, membership of public associations or any social groups, committed by a person using his official position.
- Article 285 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation “Abuse of Office”, i.e. the use by an official of his official powers contrary to the interests of the service and with selfish or other personal interest.