More on Coercive Psychiatric Treatment in Russia

The London Times reports:

…Last week authorities in the Arctic city of Murmansk released Larissa Arap, an opposition journalist whose five-week detention in two psychiatric hospitals caused a storm of protest.

Arap, who is a supporter of Garry Kasparov, the former chess champion turned fierce Kremlin critic, was confined after publishing an exposé in which she described how staff at a mental hospital were abusing young patients, often with electric shocks. During a routine medical test to renew her driving licence, she was asked by a doctor if she had written the article. Arap defended her story. The doctor called the police and had her forcibly detained. In hospital she was regularly given drugs and last week she was so feeble that she could barely speak.

…Similar treatment was used against Sergei Ablamsky, a lawyer in Bryansk, 250 miles southwest of Moscow, when he came into conflict with a prosecutor he accused of corruption. Ablamsky was taken in handcuffs to a psychiatric institute where he was held for four weeks.

This ties in nicely with a blog entry I wrote in July, in which I noted how psychiatry in Russia is being used to persecute members of new religious movements, and to spread panic about “satanism”. The notorious Serbsky Institute is still in business, and some of its staff have remained in place since the Soviet period. Reporters Without Borders adds a quote:

The president of the Independent Psychiatric Association, Yury Savenko, said he feared punitive hospitalisation could become more common following the adoption of the law on extremism.

Name variations: Larisa Arap; Yuri Savenko