Lobbying interests of the criminal group: Mikhas does not belong to Solntsevskaya gang any more. Who’s next?
The leaders of the Russian gangs will surely follow the example of Mikhas, and they will gain even more influence in the foreseeable future, trying to dictate us the rules of life and telling the people what we should read and what we should not.
One of the undisputed leaders of the Solntsevskaya criminal gang appeals to the law, which was adopted for the protection of his so-called ‘business reputation’ and the reputation of his colleagues. Is it yet another shining example of how surreal things often get in Russia? Seems like this time the nonsense is heavily backed by the law system itself, there is no other way to explain it.
It became known yesterday that the leader of the Solntsevskaya gang Sergey Mikhailov (also known as Mikhas) took advantage of the so-called "right to oblivion," demanding that the Internet search engines remove some information about himself. In particular, Yandex and Google have limited the search results displayed at the requests like "Sergey Mikhailov Mikhas," "Sergey Mikhailov Mikhas Solntsevo," "Sergey Mikhailov Solntsevo," and a number of similar word combinations. When you type the above query now, Yandex issues a following warning for Internet users: "Some of the search results are hidden in accordance with the Federal Law of 13.07.2015 N264-FZ." In turn, when similar queries are entered in the Google search box, the system simply notifies the user that "some results may have been delisted consistent with local information law." Reporters were trying to contact Yandex representatives regarding this innovative measure, but they refused to comment on the matter, referring to the legislative prohibition to disclose such information.
Codebound criminals Lasha Rustavsky, Timokha, Yaponchik, and the Solntsevskaya gang leader Mikhas
It seems that we are witnessing the dawn of a new age and a precedent that is likely to soon become a popular trend among the notorious businessman and corrupt officials from the 90s. If so, they will hardly be brought to justice. Mikhas and his fellows, who have connected themselves tight with the criminal underworld, like the leader of the Podolsk gang Sergey Lalakin (also known as Luchok) are now allowed to do whatever they want in Russia. At the same time, the freedom of speech guaranteed by the Russian Constitution is threatened once again. All those who are trying to shed some light on the illegal activities of these gangs are met with spiteful reproach: "quit making the respected people nervous," that is what is sounds like. Yandex developers already warned of such consequences while the law was still at preparation stage, calling it "unconstitutional because it restricts the constitutional right of citizens to search, access and retrieve information."
The "right to oblivion" law has been in force in Russia since January 1, 2016. The document allows to remove user information from the internet search engines if, in their opinion, it is unreliable, irrelevant or distributed in violation of the legislation. In an interview with Kommersant, one of the authors of the bill, the first deputy head of the Duma Committee on Information Policy, Technology and Communications Vadim Dengin said that even if a person is allegedly linked to organized crime, he still has the "right to oblivion." Which means that thanks to the efforts of Russian lawmakers, any criminal or an official involved in corruption scandals can now use this censorship tool as a weapon, and easily adjust search results to fit his expectations.
So, does not it all look like some people are trying to lobby the interests of organized crime groups?
It is worth noting, that according to the law, Internet search engines have the right to deny data removal to the user. This decision can be then challenged in court. However, search engines often agree to a pre-trial settlement of the situation in order to avoid the expenses, director of strategic projects at the Internet Research Institute Irina Levova said in an interview with Kommersant.
Yandex stated the practice since the beginning of the year the company received more than 3.5 thousand requests to remove information on the grounds of the "right to oblivion" law. In 73% of cases, the company refused to do so, noting that it was impossible to check the provided data. At the same time, Google provided a report featuring almost 1.5 thousand similar requests for the same time period. Only 26% of them were granted.
As a reminder, in 1996 the Swiss authorities charged Sergey Mikhailov with participation in the Solntsevskaya criminal group and money laundering. After two years in prison during the investigation, Mikhailov was fully acquitted by the jury, received a compensation of € 500 thousand and returned to Russia. It should be noted that in recent years the Solntsevskaya gang leader has not been featured in any criminal scandals, unlike his henchmen. For instance, it turned out that one the participants of the carnage on Rochdelskaya street in the center of Moscow was the notorious Solntsevskaya gang member Andrey Kochuikov (also known as Italyanets). Recently he has been close to “thief-in-law” Zakhary Kalashov (also known as Shakro Molodoy). Mikhailov has launched a personal website, on which he is telling stories about his profound charity work and the awards he received for it. In 2014, the businessman said that Vladimir Putin awarded him a watch engraved with his name. However, the president's press secretary Dmitry Peskov later denied this information.
Meeting of Sergey Mikhailov and former Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia Alexy II
Besides the Solntsevskaya gang, there are many other criminal organizations, which are still thriving in Russia, such as Podolskaya, Izmailovskaya, and other groups. Their leaders will surely follow the example of Mikhas (if not already by now), they will gain even more influence in the foreseeable future, trying to dictate us the rules of life and telling the people what we should read and what we should not.