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131 Years After Death, Dostoyevsky Undergoes Criminal Check in Russia

Репродукция картины К.А. Васильева "Ф.М. Достоевский"
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As if Fyodor Dostoyevsky wasn’t depressing enough, Russian court marshals have added a touch of Kafka to his legacy, investigating the Russian literary giant for contempt of court – and only clearing him because he is no longer alive.

MOSCOW, August 1 (RIA Novosti) – As if Fyodor Dostoyevsky wasn’t depressing enough, Russian court marshals have added a touch of Kafka to his legacy, investigating the Russian literary giant for contempt of court – and only clearing him because he is no longer alive.

The amusing story began with an “idiot” – both the title of an 1869 Dostoyevsky novel, and a word used by a resident of the far eastern Kamchatka Region to describe his opponent in a courtroom in 2011.

Though the magistrate let it slide, a vigilant court marshal reported the offender for contempt of court, leading to a full-blown criminal case, Ekho Moskvy radio reported.

The suspect, local resident Yevgeny Fedorko, retaliated by cranking up the absurdity factor to 11, blaming his actions on the “pernicious influence” of Dostoyevsky’s novel and calling last year for the writer to be investigated for instigating contempt of court.

The request was processed and a nine-month check launched into Dostoyevsky, who was eventually cleared of the accusations earlier this year.

Charges were dropped because the writer died 80 years before Fedorko’s birth and was unable to incite the latter to do anything, the radio reported Monday, citing case materials.

The case against Fedorko was also closed due to the statute of limitations, a decision opposed by the resilient seeker of justice, who sued to have himself cleared of the charges.

Court marshals are required by law to process all requests, regardless of their strangeness, a spokeswoman for the service’s Kamchatka branch told Kam24.ru news website Wednesday. She did not say why it took nine months to check the novelist for subversive influence.

Contempt of court carries up to six months in detention or a fine of up to 200,000 rubles ($6,000) in Russia.

Dostoyevsky (1821-1881) was no stranger to trouble with the authorities during his lifetime: In 1849, he was sentenced to death along with 19 others for distributing an anti-governmental pamphlet, though the sentence was commuted at the last minute in the presence of the firing squad.

 

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