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Agora: International Arrest Warrant for Blogger who Criticized Orthodox Church Unlawful

31 July 2012

Source: Open Information News Agency

Blogger Maksim Efimov

The Investigative Committee for Karelia has announced that an international arrest warrant is to be issued for Maksim Efimov (Yefimov), head of the Karelia branch of the Youth Human Rights Group and author of the blog post ‘Karelia is tired of priests’. Lawyers from Agora Human Rights Association believe this decision is unlawful and intend to appeal against the decision in court.

The human rights defenders point out that on 28 June the Supreme Court of Karelia ruled the decision to place Maksim Efimov in a psychiatric hospital was unlawful. On 17 July the Investigative Committee for Karelia withdrew its petition to have Efimov placed in a psychiatric hospital. At the same time, the basis for the federal arrest warrant for the civic activist Efimov had allegedly been the fact that he had sought to avoid being placed in a psychiatric hospital, the correspondent for Open Information News Agency points out. And this argument no longer has any force.

A week after the Investigative Committee failed to annul its decision to issue a federal warrant for the arrest of the blogger Maksim Efimov, the lawyer Olga Rybalova who is acting for Maksim Efimov lodged an appeal against the warrant. At the same time, Maksim Efimov himself stated that he had left the country for Poland via Ukraine, whereupon the Investigative Committee for Karelia announced he was on an international wanted list.

The human rights defenders believe that the position taken by the investigators is without basis and is unlawful, just as they are convinced that there is no basis in law for the prosecution of Maksim Efimov for using his right to freedom of expression. After receiving the necessary documents the lawyers will appeal in the courts against the search of Maksim Efimov’s apartment and are ready to take the case to the European Court of Human Rights.

“If an international arrest warrant is issued for Efimov, then documents will be submitted to obtain his extradition,” Ramil Akhmetgaliev, a lawyer from Agora Human Rights Association acting for Efimov said. “And this means that a court in one of the European countries will consider the question of extradition and the political motives for this case.”

Maksim Efimov is suspected of ‘inciting hatred or enmity, and also debasing the dignity of a group of people in relation to their religion’ (Article 282, Section 1, of the Russian Criminal Code) for publishing a blog post entitled ‘Karelia is tired of priests.’