On Friday, 29 October, Riga city Pardaugava Court, having found a pro-Russian activist Yuri Alekseev guilty of inciting ethnic hatred, possession of ammunition and child pornography, sentenced him to one year and two months imprisonment. However, this is not the final judgement.
Yuri Alekseev is a well-known person in the area of Latvian media. In 1992-1998 he was Director general of the newspaper Business&Baltiya, in 1999-2005 – Editor-in-chief of the business magazine Kommersant Baltic and in 2005 – Editor-in-chief of Komercprese Ltd. That same year he was elected to the Riga City Council on the list of the ZAPHREL political party. 2005-2006 he was the Editor-in-chief of a weekly newspaper Biznes.lv, in 2006 he ran for the 9th Saeima of Latvia on the list of ZACHEL. In 2006-2010 again he was editor in chief of Business&Baltiya, in 2011 he created a discussion online platform Imhoclub.lv that is of pro-Russian orientation.
The criminal proceedings against Yuri Alekseev started in November 2017. The Latvian Security Police (since 2019 State Security Service) found a criminal offence in the comments, which called for ‘putting an end to all fascist scum’, to which a number of nationalities, including Latvians, belong. It also contained attacks on the Latvian language, which was also called ‘fascist’. In addition, the defendant was charged with spreading materials directed at inter-ethnic hatred and ethnic intolerance on the Internet. During the search at Yuri Alekseev’s place cartridges for firearms, as well as materials that the investigation considered child pornography were found. Yuri Alekseev himself has repeatedly pointed out that the cartridges found in his possession were planted during the search, and family photos of children bathing were considered as the pornographic materials.
In 2018, another criminal case was initiated against Yuri Alekseev and two other individuals in connection with publications on Imhoclub.lv. The security police indicated that ‘the detention is related to longstanding and systematic activities of information influence against the Republic of Latvia, which these individuals may have carried out while pursuing foreign interests’. This case ended up with nothing. Imhoclub.lv continues to operate in the same mode.
The judgement of the Pardaugava court is not final yet. According to the lawyer of Yuri Alekseev, the judgement will be appealed to the court of another instance, and the convict will remain free until the judgement it comes into force.