Stop the Persecution of Maxim Efimov

Maxim Efimov is 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 5 April 2012 the 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 publishing an article on the website of the Karelian branch of YHRG entitled 'Karelia is tired of priests.' Maxim Efimov has criticized the priests of the Orthodox Church for cooperating with the Federal Security Service (FSS) as well as those priests who deprive the citizens of their property.   Mr. Efimov has always been a supporter of a secular state. Previously he was 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. He challenged the mentioned decision before the court afterwards.   In his article "Karelia is tired of priests” Maxim Efimov compared the Church to the largest, leading political party “ Yedínaya Rossíya” (United Russia), criticized the unlimited power of intelligence services and oligarchs, the 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 for up to 2 years or fined up to 300 000 rubles. It's completely obvious that there are no crime components of Maxim Efimov’s actions and the criminal persecution of him restricts freedom of speech. This is in breach of Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights. On 10 April 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 12 May 2012 the Petrozavodsk City Court issued a decree to put Maxim Efimov in the mental hospital by force, due to a dubious psychiatric examination as well as the pressure of the Federal Security Service and the Investigative Committee.   This move may be considered psychiatric abuse 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 this 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 put Maxim Efimov on the international wanted list and extradite him to the Russian Federation. After the Supreme Court of Karelia canceled the court's decision to forcibly put Maxim Efimov in a mental hospital and sent the case to be reissued, the criminal investigator canceled his request and the criminal case was closed. Later the criminal investigator appealed to the court, again demanding to put Maxim Efimov in the mental hospital. We suppose that this dubious criminal persecution is linked with the 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 their violation of citizens’ constitutional right to replace a military service with an alternative civil one as well as for unfair judgments. In addition, Mr. Efimov has repeatedly criticized prosecutors , investigators, officers of justice, deputies and senior officials of the Republic of Karelia in a very harsh way. He has also spoken out about the coalescence of authorities and criminals, the embezzlement of public funds and the grave crimes of militiamen.   We demand to stop the criminal persecution of Maxim Efimov. We also demand that people involved in his persecution be punished according to Article 299 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation.