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In Karelia FSB Seeks To Send Blogger Who Spoke Out Against Russian Orthodox Church To Psychiatric Hospital


12 May 2012

Anastasia Nekozakova of Memorial’s Anti-Discrimination Centre has told Agora Human Rights Association that on 12 May, after the official presentation of the psychiatric report in the case of Maksim Efimov, chair of the Karelia Youth Human Rights Group and author of the text “Karelia is tired of priests”, which he posted in his blog, Maksim Efimov was approached by an FSB officer who told him to accompany him to court under guard.

Later during a break in the court hearing Olga Rybalova, the lawyer representing Maksim Efimov on behalf of Agora Human Rights Association, confirmed this information.

In Petrozavodsk city court it turned out that the investigator had petitioned for Maksim Efimov to be hospitalized in a psychiatric clinic for examination. Efimov’s lawyer Olga Rybalova asked that the court hearing be postponed since neither she nor Efimov had been informed of this request. However, the court ruled that the lawyer should acquaint herself with the relevant materials immediately. As a result, the court hearing continued at 15.30. No decision was immediately forthcoming.

“I did not expect this development,” Olga Rybalova said. “Yesterday I spoke with the investigator working on the case and I explained that I was busy with other cases until 12 May. He said that ten minutes would be enough to read the expertise in question. What happened then was that the defendant was brought to court practically under guard. And the FSB officers at first did not want me to go along with Efimov, saying that there was no room in the vehicle. In response, I said that in that case we should all go to the court on foot.”

The investigator has asked the court to forcibly place blogger and human rights defender Maksim Efimov in a psychiatric clinic on the basis of the conclusions of the psychiatric expert commission that found: “To establish the actual state and degree of the personality deviations of Efimov it is necessary for him to be hospitalized in a psychiatric clinic for an examination, with additional information provided to the commission in terms of references from his employer and his teachers (including postgraduate teachers), and interviews with family and friends about the specificities of his character and behaviour.”

Earlier Petrozavodsk city court had sanctioned a search of the apartment of Maksim Efimov during which, on the night of 10-11 April, documentation, a personal computer and electronic data were seized.

Efimov states that the investigation has not been able to present objective evidence that in authoring the article “Karelia is tired of priests,” published on 31 December 2011, he had the intention or goal of inciting hatred or demeaning the dignity of persons based on their religion. Efimov believes that the investigator did not present evidence that the text in question contained statements either arguing for or asserting the necessity of genocide, mass repressions, deportations, or the commission of other unlawful actions, including the use of violence, against adherents of any religious faith. According to Efimov’s lawyer, the court did not take into account the circumstance that no religious official of any level had addressed a complaint to the investigative bodies over this publication. This had been stated earlier by the acting head of the Investigative Committee for Karelia, Dmitry Vasko. The criminal charges were brought on the basis of a report by the head of a department of the Investigative Committee dated 7 March 2012.

Maksim Efimov has been charged with “inciting hatred or animosity or demeaning the dignity of a group of persons on the basis of their religious views” (Article 282 Section 1 of the Criminal Code of Russia).