January 24, 2008
An ethnic Russian has become the first person convicted for involvement
in a "cyber-war" on Estonia last year amid unrest during the removal of
a Soviet-era war memorial, prosecutors said Wednesday.
"Dmitri Galushkevich is the first hacker to be sentenced for organising
a massive cyber-attack against an Estonian webpage," Gerrit Maesalu,
spokesman for the regional prosecutor's office in north-east Estonia,
Galushkevich, 20, was fined 17,500 kroons (1,120 euros, 1,620 US
dollars) for piloting an attack between April 25 and May 4 which blocked
the website of the Reform Party of Prime Minister Andrus Ansip.
The assault on the party's website was one of a raft of attacks by
hackers on Estonian institutions and businesses.
"The young man admitted his guilt," said Maesalu.
"In deciding the verdict, the court took into account the fact that he
had no criminal record," he added.
Prosecutors said Galushkevich, a student, had claimed the attack was an
act of protest.
Ansip became a hate figure for a large slice of the country's ethnic
Russian community after Estonian authorities decided to shift the
so-called Bronze Soldier from central Tallinn to a military cemetery.
For Moscow and many among Estonia's Russian minority -- which makes up
around a quarter of the population of 1.3 million -- moving the monument
was an affront to the memory of soldiers who fought the Nazis during
World War II.
For many Estonians however, the statute was also a symbol of almost five
decades of Soviet occupation.
The site had become a flashpoint between Estonian activists and Russians
marking Soviet-era anniversaries.
Since the statue was moved, relations between Russia and Estonia have
been at their frostiest since the Baltic country regained independence
in 1991 from the crumbling Soviet Union.
Four ethnic Russian activists are currently on trial in Estonia, accused
of masterminding April 26-28 street violence in Tallinn as the statue
Galushkevich was the first individual to be prosecuted for the
Several investigations are still underway, but Estonia has had trouble
tracking down others involved in forcing the closure of government
websites and disrupting leading businesses in what is one of the world's
most wired economies.
Most of the hackers were believed to be based in Russia -- the Estonian
government has said that Kremlin computers were used to carry out a
number of the attacks on servers in the Baltic country.
Moscow has denied any involvement in the online assault, while Estonian
investigators have accused Russia of refusing to cooperate with their
Estonia has nonetheless used other tools to strike back at Russian-based
Last year it slapped an entry ban on Konstantin Goloskokov, a member of
the pro-Kremlin Nashi (Ours) youth group, who in media interviews has
acknowledged putting together a group of hackers.
As a result, he subsequently found himself barred from entering the
24-member Schengen zone, the European common travel area which Estonia
joined on December 21.
Goloskokov was arrested in Lithuania, which is also a Schengen member,
at the end of last month as he tried to duck the ban by crossing from
Belarus into Lithuania before heading to Estonia.
Copyright 2008 AFP
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