Karelia wants critical blogger behind bars
The new Russian legislation regulating the freedoms of speech, public assembly and demonstration might ultimately be most rigorously followed up in the regions, analysts fear. In Karelia, prosecutors have issued an international wanted notice for blogger Maksim Yefimov.
After he published a blog post critical towards the Russian Orthodox Church, life took a new turn for blogger Maksim Yefimov. In the article, titled “Karelia is tired of the clergy”, Yefimov accuses the Church of corruption and of nursing close relations with the government and the security services.
He also argues that people in Karelia are getting increasingly negative about the Church and its role in politics.
A reaction from the regional prosecutors soon followed. Yefimov was charged on allegations of having “stirred hatred against the Church” (article 282), the same article on which the more famous case against the Pussy Riot is based. He also faced a 100.000 RUB fine and up to two years in jail.
Maksim Yefimov is also leader of the regional branch of the Russian Youth Human Rights Group.
In addition, the prosecutors also convinced the judges about the need to put the blogger in a mental hospital for a psychiatric check. This decision was later however overruled by the regional Supreme Court, RIA Novosti reports.
Yefimov never showed up in the mental hospital. He has now left the country, he confirms at his Livejournal blog. "Why I left Russia? I simply do not want to live with cannibals", he writes in a blog post.
The prosecutors, meanwhile, are not ready to give up the case against the blogger. They have now issued an international wanted order on the young journalist and human rights activist. “We have issued a search notice on Yefimov, because he did not show up for the interrogations, a representative of the prosecutor’s office told the news agency.
The case against Yefimov comes as Russia is taking new touch measures against civil society and the media. With major urgency, President Vladimir Putin has pushed through new legislation which regulates peoples’ right to public assembly and NGO activities, as well as a law on “slandering”. In addition, a “black list” on banned websites is being introduced.
In an editorial, newspaper Vedomost warns against the consequences of the new laws. The legislation will be felt all over the country, however, it might ultimately be applied most rigourously in the regions, the newspaper writes.