Letter to President Putin on Behalf of Maxim Efimov

Honorable Vladimir Putin, President of Russian Federation http://eng.letters.kremlin.ru/

Dear Mr. President:

The UCSJ would like to direct your attention to the fate of Maxim Efimov a chairman of the Karelian regional branch of the inter-regional youth social charity organization “Youth Human Rights Group (YHRG)” . The Karelian branch of YHRG implements human rights protection programs and supports civic initiatives, in particular youth-oriented projects.

On April 5, 2012,  criminal case № 012012120035 against Maxim Efimov was opened by the Investigative Committee of the Republic of Karelia 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”, under Part 1 of Article 282 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation. Mr. Efimov was accused of insulting the religious group “ Orthodox Christians” after having published an article on the website of the Karelian branch of YHRG entitled 'Karelia is tired of priests' . Maxim Efimov criticized the priests of the Orthodox Church, cooperating with the Federal Security Service (FSS) as well as those priests who deprive  citizens of their property.

Mr. Efimov has always been a supporter of a secular state. Previously he has been the only person in Karelia who openly did not approve the decision of the local authorities to allocate budgetary funds of 15 million rubles for the construction of an Orthodox cathedral in Petrozavodsk and challenged the aforementioned decision before the court afterwards. In his article “ Karelia is tired of priests” Maxim Efimov has compared the Church to the largest and leading political party “ Yedínaya Rossíya” (United Russia) and criticized the unlimited power of intelligence services and oligarchs as a coalescence of the Church and the State, described priests as “bearded men wearing fancy dresses “, “secretaries for ideology” and “Orthodox spawn” . According to the Investigative Committee of Prosecutor Office, the author of the article deserves to be imprisoned up to 2 years or fined up to 300 000 rubles. It`s totally obvious that there are no criminal components in Maxim Efimov’s actions and the criminal persecution of him is restricting  freedom of speech in breach of Article 10 of European Convention on Human Rights . On April 10, 2012, in the nighttime, a search of the private apartment of Maxim Efimov was carried out. During the search, the personal computer and other property of Maxim Efimov were seized. On May 12, 2012, the Petrozavodsk City Court issued a decree to put Maxim Efimov in a  mental hospital by force under a dubious psychiatric examination as well as because of the pressure of the Federal Security Service and the Investigative Committee .

This move may be considered as a punitive psychiatry of a mentally healthy person. For this reason Maxim Efimov had to leave Karelia because he has faced the outrage of investigative bodies and courts. The Russian Federation violated the right of Maxim Efimov to a fair trial and fair investigation as well as the right to an effective remedy before a national authority in breach of Article 6 and Article 13 of European Convention on Human Rights . After his departure Maxim Efimov was declared to be on the federal wanted list . When Mr. Efimov applied for political asylum in the Republic of Estonia , the investigative bodies  requested to declare Maxim Efimov to be on the international wanted list and tried toextradite him to the Russian Federation   After the Supreme Court of Karelia canceled the decision of the court about  forcibly putting Maxim Efimov in the mental hospital and sent the case to be reissued , the criminal investigator  canceled his request and the criminal case has been closed. Later the criminal investigator  appealed to the court again demanding to put Maxim Efimov in a  mental hospital. We suppose that this dubious criminal persecution is linked with human rights and journalistic activities of Mr. Efimov and his harsh criticism of Karelian authorities . More than once Maxim Efimov has criticized the Karelian court for the violation of citizens’ constitutional right to replace a military service with an alternative civil one as well as for unfair judgments . Also Mr. Efimov has repeatedly criticized prosecutors , investigators , officers of justice, deputies, senior officials of the Republic of Karelia in a very harsh way as well as he has informed them about authorities and criminals coalescing in the  embezzlement of public funds, and grave crimes of militiamen.

The UCSJ demands that criminal persecution of Maxim Efimov be stopped and that persons involved in this persecution  be punished according to Article 299 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation .

Larry Lerner, UCSJ President