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Sergey Markov, a deputy of the State Duma and a member of the Russia delegation to the Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly (PACE) publicly declared that his assistant had organized cyber-attacks on Estonia in 2007.[1]

For almost a month in 2007 Estonia was subject to massive DDoS (distributed denial of service) attacks on websites run by the government, banks, telecommunications companies, Internet service providers, and media outlets. The attacks began within hours of the relocation of a Soviet-era war memorial out of the center of Tallinn, an event which resulted in protests in Moscow and by Estonia’s Russian community. The cyber-attacks reached a peak on May 9 -- Victory Day in Russia. The attack resulted in substantial losses to Estonian economy: just one institution, Estonia’s Hansabank, reported $1 million losses. [2]

On 3 March 2009 during a video conference interview with various Russian and U.S. participants an American participant opined that the Estonian government had reasons to believe that the 2007 attack had originated from Russia.  In response, Markov said the following.

“Concerning the cyber-attack on Estonia… Take it easy, my assistant did it.  I will not tell you his name because he might have visa problems. . . . At that time he was in one of the “unrecognized republics.”[3]  It was on the 9th of May and the Estonian government got impudent in supporting Nazis.  So they [apparently, the assistant and friends] told themselves, we must do something bad to those Nazis.  So they decided to go ahead and block [Estonian sites]. . . . They called me and said, Sergey Alexandrovich, what should we do now?  We have blocked Estonian sites and do not know what to do now.  I said, well, let us inform news agencies [that Estonian sites are blocked].  Therefore, it was a reaction of the civil society, and, by the way, this will continue more and more,” concluded Markov.

Earlier a commissioner (responsible for Trasnistria and Moldavia) of a Russian Kremlin-backed movement “Nashi” Konstantin Goloskokov also admitted that he participated in the organization of the 2007 attack against Estonia.  As a result, he was denied the right for a visa to European Union (EU) countries and the U.S.

In a number of EU countries DDoS attacks constitute a criminal offence.  In Russia the Criminal Code includes the articles devoted to “unlawful access to computer information” (up to five years)[4] and “creation, usage, and distribution of harmful computer programs” (up to seven years).[5]  It is not certain whether the wording of those articles cover DDoS attacks; nor any Russian case law on DDoS attacks is available.[6]



[3] Might be Trasnistria, Abkhazia, or South Ossetia.

[4] RF Criminal Code art 272.

[5] RF Criminal Code art 273.

[6] One exception is the “Balakovo Hackers” case (three Russian hackers blackmailed U.K. bookmakers threatening them with DDoS attacks; in 2006 each defendant was sentenced in Russia to 8 years for extortion and “usage and distribution of harmful programs”), see http://www.kommersant.ru/doc.aspx?DocsID=709912.

Subsequent history:

“Nashi” claim credit for cyber-attacks on Estonia

http://www.kommersant.ru/doc.aspx?DocsID=1136738

http://blog.wired.com/defense/2009/03/pro-kremlin-gro.html

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