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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Reporter to Be Freed From Clinic

A reporter who wrote critical articles about military actions in Chechnya has been ordered released from a Yaroslavl region psychiatric hospital where he was kept against his will for nine months.

Andrei Novikov was one of several journalists and opposition activists who have been committed to psychiatric hospitals in recent years -- reviving a punitive practice widely used in the Soviet era.

Novikov was working as an online reporter for Chechen Press, a news service connected with the Chechen separatist government, in December 2006 when he was convicted of sedition and inciting violence for two e-mail messages he sent to newspapers.

He was sentenced to three years in prison, but in January a psychiatric commission determined that he had "anti-social behavior" and on Feb. 14 ordered him committed to a hospital in Rybinsk, Reporters Without Borders said in a statement. Last month, another commission concluded that there was nothing wrong with Novikov, and a Rybinsk court ordered him released Thursday, it said. It was unclear whether he had been released; authorities at the Rybinsk hospital could not be reached for comment, and Novikov's relatives could not be immediately located.

In July, opposition activist Larisa Arap was ordered to a psychiatric clinic in the northern city of Murmansk. Supporters said it was punishment for her critical reporting. She was released six weeks later.

AP, MT