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Maxim Efimov

Letter to the Prosecutor General of Russia from Maxim Efimov`s laywer

The criminal case was filled on 5th April, 2012 by Petrozavodsk IK because of spreading the article “Karelia is tired of priests” in Internet (see a copy of the text in the Annex).
Maxim Efimov is a suspect in committing the crime. A preventive measure against him has not been elected yet. He is currently in the Republic of Estonia. IK of the Republic of Karelia publicly stated that M. Efimov is wanted. According to the criminal procedure law the decision to send a request for extradition of a person in a foreign country shall be taken only by the General Prosecutor of the Russian Federation .

In this case, there are no grounds to make such a request as far as there is no any basis for a prosecution of Maxim Efimov . On December 31, 2011 Maxim Efimov published an article "Karelia is tired of priests " in in Newspaper Zero Hour’s section on the website «right.karelia.ru». In the mentioned article M. Efimov expressed his own views and opinions about the religious organization and its employees.

The investigation considered that the statements of Efimov M. aimed at belittling the dignity of the Orthodox Christians. However , these arguments are unfounded and unfirmed. Article 10 of the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms and Article 29 of the Constitution guarantee the freedom of expression.
First of all , Maxim Efimov criticizes the religious organization , its employees and managers in his article , "... the Russian Orthodox Church as well as the United Russia party are fooling the people by telling fairy tales ... ROC uses the nursery schools... Priests talks about everything .... ". The object of criticism in this case are a concrete religious organization and its employees . The article does not mention any parishioners and the people practicing Orthodox Christianity.

Second, this article does not contain any statements containing incitement to commit illegal acts against a religious organization , its employees and members.

These conclusions are supported by experts’ ( linguists ) research . For example , Ph.D. , professor of modern Russian Nizhny Novgorod State University (specialty " 10.02.01 - Russian language," professional experience of over 25 years) Radbil T.B. in his written statement said that " all of the analyzed utterances are directed solely at the ROC as a certain organizational structure, but not in any way affect the rights of all Orthodox believers. In the presented study materials there are no statements containing the justification for the implementation of crimes ( genocide, mass arrests , deportations, commit other illegal acts , including the use of illegitimate violence ) to groups of individuals , allocated on the basis of religion,.... statements containing a justification for human rights , freedoms and legitimate interests of citizens , depending on the religious affiliation have not been revealed ...... materials do not contain calls, inciting inter-religious hatred or discrimination against citizens on the basis of their religious affiliation. "

The Plenum of the Supreme Court in its judgment of 28th June 2011 ( see paragraph 7 ), stressed that "Under the acts aimed at inciting hatred or enmity , it is understood , in particular , the statements justifying and (or) the need to claim genocide , mass arrests , deportations, commit other illegal acts , including the use of violence against members of any nation, race , adherents of a particular religion or other group of persons.
Criticism of political organizations , ideological and religious associations, political , ideological or religious beliefs , national or religious identity is not in itself be regarded as an act aimed at inciting hatred or enmity . "Thus , the article does not call for illegal acts , the object of criticism in the article serves only a religious organization and its employees .

According to the requirements of the Convention on Human Rights, the Constitution and Plenum Forces criticism of the religious organization can not be the basis or ground for criminal prosecution.T he investigator focuses on the used Efimov’s phrase " Orthodox otrodje ." He appeals to all believers in this expression. However, as correctly noted by experts (see findings in the appendix) , the statements must be analyzed in the context of the entire text. The experts pointed out ( see the conclusion Radbil TB, that " on the basis of the previous context expletive " Orthodox otrodje "and attributed it reduced the predicate" kuchkovatsya "refer to in authority officials from the Orthodox religion .... and don’t refer to the whole community of the faithful Orthodox Christians . "
Consequently, the expressions used in the text refer only to “officials and authority of the Orthodox religion." There are no statements directed against ordinary Orthodox believers in the text. According to the Registry of the Ministry of Justice of the Russian Federation, Russian Orthodox Church ( Moscow Patriarchate ) was registered as a legal entity and in accordance with Art. 152 of the Civil Code shall have the right to apply for protection of their reputation in a civil processing .The same way Its employees should protect their reputation in the same way . Protection of business reputation of the legal entity does not perform in the criminal process.

In addition, a separate issue is worth to look at the object of criticism. In this case, it is a religious organization - the Russian Orthodox Church. Nowadays state officials as well representatives of the Russian Orthodox Church have repeatedly stated that the Russian Orthodox Church is actively involved in public life and have an influence and will further try to influence on decision-making by public authorities. Here are , in particular , certain provisions of the Social Concept of the Russian Orthodox Church : "The Church can interact with the State when it’s beneficial for the Church , an individual and society . For the Church, this interaction should be part of its saving mission, which embraces a comprehensive concern for a human . The Church is called to participate in the dispensation of a human’s life in all areas wherever it is possible as well as to join efforts with the secular authorities... "

Taking these circumstances into consideration , refer to the text of Maxim Efimov’s article , who criticizes and expresses his own opinion about the Russian Orthodox Church revealing the nature of the interaction of the Russian Orthodox Church and the State, obtaining property by ROC and its intervention in public affairs .Thus , the ROC’s leadership is criticized by Efimov as a public political figure in his article.

The Plenum of the Supreme Court has repeatedly emphasized that public political figures , which are all those " who hold public office and (or ) use of public resources , as well as all those who play a role in public life , whether in the fields of politics, economy , the arts, social services , sports or any other field " , agree to be the subject of public political debate and criticism in the media." They " can be criticized in regards to how they perform their duties as it is necessary for the public and responsible performance of their duties “[2].

Considering the cases involving accusations of extremism and belittling the dignity Supreme Court particularly should pay attention to international standards and practices of the European Court of Human Rights in its decisions. The Court thus repeatedly held that "any restrictions on freedom of expression , whether in the context of religious beliefs , or any other ,would be incompatible with Article 10 , unless it is due to the need “ [3] At the same time , "the need for any interference with the freedom of expression must be convincingly established ... first of all concerning the national authorities to assess whether there is a " pressing social need" that can justify this intervention " [4]and" intervention should be proportionate to the legitimate aim pursued “[5].
It should also be taken of the position of the Court, that "freedom of speech includes not only the" information " or " ideas " that are favorably received or regarded as inoffensive or as a neutral , but also those that offend, shock or disturb “’[6]. Obviously, in the guarantees of freedom of speech there would be no need if they are concerned only that "information" and "ideas" that are perceived by the state or part of the population or indifferently . To a much greater degree of protection need ideas that provoke public debate .

In this connection it should also be taken into account that the publication in the newspaper Zero Hour is devoted to an issue of clear public interest [7] related to the assessment of the role of the Russian Orthodox Church and its functionaries in the life of Karelia and expenditure of the national budget ( taxpayers ) . The Court repeatedly stressed that " Article 10 paragraph 2 of the Convention leaves no room for restrictions on freedom of expression in the field of ... matters of public interest” In this case , the Court " convinced of the fact that journalistic freedom also implies the use of statements to a degree of exaggeration and even provocation " [8].

Criminal prosecution is itself a serious restriction of human rights, especially considering the possibility of imprisonment for up to 2 years , as stipulated sanction of Part 1 of Article 282 of the Criminal Code , and it is evident in the Efimov disproportionate to the aim pursued , taking into account that publication of Efimov includes in no calls for violence , and contains only criticism of the organization. In this case, no justification for the existence of a pressing social need to prosecute journalists for publishing a critical articl , the consequence is not granted, despite the fact that an obligation stems directly from the provisions of the European Convention and confirmed by the Supreme Court .

Based on the above , please refuse IK of the Republic of Karelia in the direction of the request to the Republic of Estonia for extradition the suspected Maxim Mikhailovich Efimov.
[1] http://www.patriarchia.ru/db/text/141422.html[2] Постановление Пленума Верховного Суда РФ от 24 февраля 2005г. N 3 "О судебной практике по делам о защите чести и достоинства граждан, а также деловой репутации граждан и юридических лиц"
[2] Обзор практики рассмотрения судами Российской Федерации дел о защите чести, достоинства и деловой репутации, а также неприкосновенности частной жизни публичных лиц в области политики, искусства, спорта
[3] Wingrove v. the United Kingdom, 1996, §53
[4] Worm vs. Austria, 1997, §47
[5] Dalban vs. Romania, 1999, §47
[6] Janowski vs. Poland, 1999, §30
[7] Surek vs. Turkey, 1999, §61
[8] Bladet Tromsø and Stensaas vs. Norway, 1999, §59