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Investigative Committee in Karelia Again Seeks to Place Blogger who Criticized Orthodox Church in Psychiatric Hospital

1 August 2012

Source: Open News Information Agency

Blogger Maksim Efimov

On 1 August at 14.00 Petrozavodsk town court is to consider a request by the investigation to place Maksim Efimov, head of the Karelia branch of the Youth Human Rights Group and the author of the blog post ‘Karelia is tired of priests’, in a psychiatric hospital for examination.

On 17 July Aleksandr Voronin, an investigator at the Muezersky district division of the Karelia Investigative Committee had personally withdrawn a similar request, but has now decided, on 1 August, to renew this request. At the same time, he informed Olga Rybalova, the lawyer acting for Maksim Efimov, of the date and time of the court hearing an hour-and-a-half before it was due to begin.

‘To tell me just 90 minutes before the start of a court hearing into such an important question is disgraceful,’ the lawyer Olga Rybalova said, ‘I objectively cannot get to the court in time and I shall demand that I be informed about such a hearing in the appropriate manner. It is not the investigator who should telephone me, but a court official, in order to inform me and agree with me in advance the date and time.’

On 28 June the Supreme Court of Karelia found the ruling by Petrozavodsk town court concerning the request by investigator Aleksandr Voronin to place Maksim Efimov in a psychiatric hospital unlawful. On 17 July the same investigator Aleksandr Voronin, acting in the name of the Investigative Committee for Karelia, withdrew the request from the court. At the same time, the reason for issuing a federal arrest warrant for Maksim Efimov was allegedly the refusal by the civic activist to be placed in a psychiatric hospital, a reason which no longer had any force. On 31 July it became known that the Investigative Committee had announced there was now an international warrant for the arrest of Maksim Efimov. On 1 August investigator Aleksandr Voronin again asked the court to place Maksim Efimov in a psychiatric hospital.

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.’