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Russia-Update: Supreme Court of Karelia overrules a court's decision to place blogger Maxim Efimov into psychiatric hospital
On 28 June 2012, the criminal division of the Supreme Court of Karelia overruled the decision of the Petrozavodsk Regional Court on the forced placement of Maxim Efimov into a psychiatric hospital as unlawful and sent the case back to the Patrozavodsk court for reconsideration.
Maxim Efimov is Director of the Karelian regional branch of the inter-regional Youth Human Rights Group (YHRG). He is also Chief Editor of the human rights newspaper Chas nol (Hour zero). The Karelian branch of YHRG organises human rights protection programmes and supports civic initiatives, in particular youth-oriented projects.
Maxim Efimov was charged with criminal offence for criticizing the Russian Orthodox Church in his 160-word article “Karelia is tired of priests”, which appeared on his blog. The criminal charge was brought against him on 5 April 2012 under Article 282(1) of the Criminal Code for “actions aimed at the incitement of national, racial, or religious enmity, abasement of human dignity, and also propaganda of the exceptionality, superiority, or inferiority of individuals by reason of their attitude to religion, national, or racial affiliation, if these acts have been committed in public or with the use of mass media”. His house was searched, his computer seized, and he was subjected to psychiatric examination as part of the investigation process.
The Petrozavodsk Regional Court held a hearing on 12 May. Maxim Efimov and his lawyer were informed a few hours prior to the hearing while at the office of the prosecutor, which left no time to prepare an adequate defence. The court ruled that Maxim Efimov should be placed in Petrozavodsk psychiatric hospital for psychiatric examination. The lawyers of Maxim Efimov applied to the Supreme Court of Karelia to protest the Petrozavodsk Regional Court on this decision.
Front Line Defenders welcomes the decision of the Supreme Court of Karelia and remains seriously concerned with the criminal charge brought against Maxim Efimov. Front Line Defenders reiterates its calls to the authorities of the Russian Federation to:
1. Immediately drop the criminal case and accusation against Maxim Efimov as Front Line Defenders believes that these are solely motivated by his legitimate human rights activities;
2. Guarantee in all circumstances that human rights defenders in the Russian Federation are able to carry out their legitimate human rights activities without fear of reprisals, and free of all restrictions including judicial harassment.
Please see previous appeal and update on Maxim Efimov by Front Line Defenders https://www.frontlinedefenders.org/node/18055
You can find additional information on the situation for human rights Defenders in Russia. HERE