Estonia Charges Solo Hacker for Crippling Cyberattacks

The weeks-long cyberattack that crippled the Baltic nation of Estonia last spring may have been the work of one young man.

Regional prosecutors announced Thursday that Dmitri Galushkevich, 20, had been fined the equivalent of $1,600 for using a botnet to take down the Web site of Prime Minister Andrus Ansip's Reform Party.

Galushkevich, an ethnic Russian, was apparently upset over the relocation of a bronze statue commemorating the Soviet soldiers who died fighting in Estonia during World War II.

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"He wanted to show that he was against the removal of this bronze statue," said prosecutor's office spokesman Gerrit Maesalu, adding that Galushkevich had admitted orchestrating the massive directed denial-of-service attack.

The relocation of the statue in April sparked three days of ethnic riots in Tallinn, the Estonian capital, that left one dead.

Around the same time, tens of thousands of "zombie" computers, rendered "slaves" by computer viruses, began incessantly swamping Web sites belonging to Estonian government agencies, financial institutions and political parties.

The country, one of the most "wired" in the world and home of the Internet phone-call company Skype, was effectively cut off from the Internet for several days.

Estonian officials blamed Russia for the attacks at the time, though it was nearly impossible to trace them back to their sources.

"At the moment, we don't have any other suspects," said Maesalu, adding that authorities were still trying to find out if anyone other than Galushkevich was involved.

Many Estonians view the Red Army, which took over independent Estonia in 1940, as a repressive army of occupation.

Ethnic Russians in Estonia, who make up a quarter of the population, retort that the Soviets freed Estonia from the Nazis in 1944 and consider the thousands of Estonians who fought with the German and Finnish armies as traitors and fascists.

• Click here for a report from Agence France-Presse, and here for one by IDG News Service.