A Karelian blogger charged with inciting hatred for criticizing the Russian Orthodox Church has been put on the international wanted list, the Karelian branch of the Investigation Committee said on Tuesday.
Maxim Yefimov, the head of Youth Human Rights Group Karelia, published an article titled Karelia Tired of Priests online in December 2011, slamming the church over its alleged interest in real estate in the northern republic.
This earned him a criminal case for fostering hate, punishable by up to two years in prison.
On May 12 a court ordered Yefimov to be put into a clinic for psychiatric testing from May 23, however the blogger went missing.
“We’ve put Yefimov on the international wanted list as he absconded,” a spokesman for the Investigation Committee said.
Yefimiv said in his blog that he has left Russia. There is media speculation that he has found asylum in Great Britain.
Russian legislation on extremism and hate crimes is notoriously vague and has been criticized by many opposition and civil society activists, who accuse the authorities of abusing it for political persecution.
Punitive psychiatry was widespread in the Soviet Union and dissidents were often held and drugged for months for criticizing the government. It has largely disappeared in post-Soviet Russia, though an investigation by The Moscow Times in 2011 produced a dozen separate cases across the nation where critics of authorities had been allegedly put into asylums as a form of pressure.