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Russian Court Orders Psychiatric Treatment Over Social-Media Post

A Russian court has ordered an LGBT activist to receive outpatient treatment from a psychiatric clinic over a social-media post he made regarding an explosion at the headquarters of the Federal Security Service (FSB) in the northern city of Arkhangelsk.

The Second Western District Military Court in St. Petersburg also fined the activist, Aleksandr Merkulov, 200,000 rubles (about $2,770) on June 17.

Merkulov’s lawyer, Leonid Krikun, told RFE/RL that the defense does not agree with the court’s decision. But he said the defense would not appeal.

Howver, the prosecution said it considers the sentence too lenient and would appeal the decision. Prosecutors had called for Merkulov to receive a five-year prison sentence.

Merkulov was detained in early July 2020 after an investigation into his social-media posts. In one post, Merkulov questioned a claim by authorities that an explosion inside the FSB headquarters in Arkhangelsk was the result of a terrorist attack.

Russian authorities say a teenager identified as Mikhail Zhlobitsky was killed when he detonated an explosive device inside the FSB building in October 2018.

Authorities officially classified the explosion as a terrorist attack.

Merkulov was held in custody until he was transferred to house arrest in December 2020. He insists that he is not a supporter of terrorism.

Reference