Courtney Boyd Myers
Courtney Boyd Myers is the founder of audience.io, a transatlantic company designed to help New York and London based technology startups gr Courtney Boyd Myers is the founder of audience.io, a transatlantic company designed to help New York and London based technology startups grow internationally. Previously, she was the Features Editor and East Coast Editor of TNW covering New York City startups and digital innovation. She loves magnets + reading on a Kindle. You can follow her on Facebook, Twitter @CBM and Google +.
Right now, Ukrainian entrepreneur Denis Oleinikov is trying to restore his company ProstoPrint.com. He’s working around the clock to support his employees after this week’s armed raid of their office and night long interrogations, as well as buy and install new equipment.
According to Oleinikov ProstoPrint.com is the biggest goods-on-demand service in the former USSR countries and is similar to other web services such as zazzle.com, cafepress.com and spreadshirt.net. ProstoPrint users can create their own web shops of t-shirts, mugs, caps, mouse pads etc. and sell their products to anybody. A user uploads a picture and can create virtual merchandise using an easy-to-use product builder. Then a user creates a virtual store and starts to promote it. When a final customer places an order, ProstoPrint processes payment, produces the physical goods and delivers them to the customer, paying a royalty to the user who created, designed or managed the store.
Recently, ProstoPrint users made a very active promotion of t-shirts that criticized the President of Ukraine, Victor Yanukovich. “As there are a lot of people in our country who are dissatisfied with his politics, these products became very popular,” says Oleinikov. “One day, two weeks ago, an anonymous person called me to my private phone (not to office!) and recommended that we stop sales of all products criticizing Yanukovich immediately. I refused as these t-shirts don’t contain any unethical or offensive things – just a critique and satire.”
The person on the other end of the line said “Ok, this is your choice, but you’ll regret this,” and hung up.
A week later their office was completely blocked and destroyed by Ukraine’s police. Initially, the police said ProstoPrint had infringed a copyright law pertaining to EURO 2012, the upcoming football championship to be held in Ukraine next year, but Oleinikov says the police failed to prove this. Simultaneously, the police took away all their production equipment and computers.
Ukrainian entrepreneurs have rushed to the support of Denis Oleinikov to find out the real reasons around the case of ProstoPrint.com company, as well as attempt to dispute the actions of Euro-2012 Board of Directors in Ukraine and its Director Mr. Markiyan Lubkivskiy. They’ve written this letter to the UEFA Organising Committee:
Dear UEFA Organising Committee,
Dear Mr. Michel Platini,
Few years ago when the news about hosting EURO2012 spread among Ukrainians, we were very glad and proud of such an honor for Ukraine. This event promised to be a very good sign for Ukraine. We started to believe in positive changes in tourism, transport and sport infrastructure that would establish better living standards for every average Ukrainian.
After some time, along with actual activity, the Championship began to be associated with corruption and wastefullness of the government.
The preparation for the 2012 UEFA European Football Championship has exceeded any conceivable budget and made us to accept the fact with a heavy heart.
But all that is nothing in comparison with the fact that the power-wielding structures now started destroying small business activity using Your fair name.
By the below-mentioned links you may get evidence how under the guise of EURO 2012 and without any notification and warning they have destroyed the business of the honest-minded Ukrainian entrepreneur Denis Oleynikov and criminated him. How it all started and what we have.
We should draw your attention that according to the Ukrainian and International Law the company is not responsible for control of the ordered products, as well as your organization, e.g., can not be held accountable for any extremist statements of the football «hooligans» across the world.
Nevertheless, the employees of ProstoPrint.com have been detained for a half a day without explanations and being menaced with guns from the Ukrainian police. They were not able to contact a lawyer or even to go to the water closet for almost 8 hours, even pregnant woman.
We truly hope you will interfere in this case and will not allow any possibility to associate Your name, symbols of free and honest football, fair game and UEFA / EURO-2012 attributes with the human rights violation and forcible deprivation of a fair business in Ukraine.
Thank You very much for Your attention and we hope for any assistance from You in this case.
According to our sources, it’s very common for companies to be raided by the Ukrainian police. And in the past year, almost all of them were asked (not very politely) “to pay to stay in business”. In the U.S. and in Europe, we complain to our government about Visa issues and our backed up patent system. When I hear about stories such as this, it certainly places our complaints in perspective. How can a country innovate and progress when its government is so oppressive?
Featured image: Shutterstock/a123luha
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