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Russian Mobster Leverages Internet Law Meant To Protect Dumb, Selfie-Obsessed Teens

Reuters

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Eric Lieberman Deputy Editor
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Sergei Mikhailov, a powerful and infamous figure of the Russian mob, is using a new law meant primarily to protect hapless, oversharing teenagers to whitewash his highly suspect past.

The ‘Right-To-Forget’ Law, which was enacted in January by the Russian government, permits anyone to submit a request for personal information to be removed on search engines. Similar to the European Union’s ‘Right to be Forgotten’ ruling, people can ask that personal information that is antiquated, unrelated or of dubious credibility to be wiped from search.

Mikhailov’s use of the law has some questioning if it’s far too broad.

Not only is Mikhailov accused of establishing the most powerful gangster syndicate in Russia, the Solntsevskaya Bratva, he also has had many other run-ins with the law.

In 1989, Mikhailov was arrested for extortion, but the case was dropped after several witnesses unexpectedly declined to testify against him. While in Switzerland in 1996, he was charged for involvement in organized crime, but was acquitted after one of the necessary witnesses was killed. After several more incidences of evading criminal charges, Mikhailov continued to insist that he was never a part of any criminal group.

The former mobster has been using the newly formed statute to omit these alleged facts of his life. He is now using his own official website to describe himself in the way he wants to be viewed. Rather than tying himself to the Solntsevskaya Bratva, Mikhail wanted to outline other more wholesome and less nefarious personal details.

To the ignorant, unaware, or youthful, Mikhailov may just be seen as a former professional wrestler or a scholar who is university educated. Nevertheless, today is the era where free exchange of information is so interconnected and frequent that erasing his past through the interweb in entirety may be a lofty goal.

For now, Mikhailov is using the resources his government has granted him. His only struggle will be submitting further requests as journalists continue to report on his alleged ties to the Solntsevo criminal group.

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