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Pro-Putin Youth Group Denies Cyber Attacks on Kommersant Website

Feb. 10 (Bloomberg) -- A youth group that supports Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, Nashi, denied involvement in cyber attacks on the website of the Kommersant newspaper, which is frequently critical of the government.

Kommersant filed a complaint to the Interior Ministry yesterday alleging that the group was behind attacks known as “distributed denial of service,” or DDoS, that caused the newspaper’s site to crash repeatedly in 2008.

“We expect that these boys and girls playing politics will understand that cyber crime is a serious offense,” Kommersant CEO Damian Kudriavtzev said by phone. Nashi, in a statement on its website today, denied any wrongdoing.

Repeated cyber attacks disrupted access to several Russian news sites that air criticism of the authorities during the run-up to parliamentary elections in December, which were followed by mass protests at alleged ballot-rigging. Kommersant was targeted along with media outlets including Gazeta.ru, Slon.ru and Ekho Mosvky radio, which filed a complaint to Russian authorities.

A hacker team calling itself Anonymous released hundreds of e-mails, saying they came from Nashi leaders’ mailboxes. One of these messages was cited by Kommersant as evidence Nashi planned the attacks on the website in 2008.

Ekho Moskvy editor in chief Alexei Venediktov says the authorities response to Kommersant’s complaint will show if they were involved in the cyber attacks. “If the authorities won’t react, that could mean they back the organizers of the cyber attacks, and therefore also are committing a crime,” Venediktov said by phone.

To contact the reporter on this story: Stepan Kravchenko in Moscow at skravchenko@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Balazs Penz at bpenz@bloomberg.net

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