Satanic Panic in Russia

Warning from Institute that Declared Soviet Dissidents Insane

From (as ever) Interfax:

Most heavy metal songs are about murder and suicide, the Serbsky State Research Center for Social and Forensic Psychiatry professor Fyodor Kondratyev opines.

‘Having researched 700 most popular heavy metal songs revealed that half of them is about murder, 7 percent is positive about suicide, and 35 percent preaches a variety of Satanist ideologies,’ Kondratyev said in his interview published in Rossiyskaya Gazeta daily on Monday.

He shared with the journalists that according to the American National Education Association every year near 6,000 young Americans kill themselves under the influence of music like that.

Kondratyev tells of “1,000” Satanists in Moscow and “100 Satanist groups” in Russia. He also claims to have been told by a patient of “20 ritual murders”, but that “Good defenders and threatening of witnesses” have prevented successful prosecutions. Kondratyev’s warning comes just days after Deacon Andrey Kurayev of Moscow Theological Academy warned that Friday the 13th would see “more intense” Satanic activity.

Kondratyev has previously railed against foreign “sects” in Russia. In 2004 the Russian Courier reported that:

Overseas-based religious cults are making huge expenditures to get established in Russia, says Fedor Kondratyev, analytical board chief of the Serbsky State Centre of Social and Forensic Medicine.

“There is documentary proof of exorbitant sums spent to help such cults as they are penetrating Russia, and promote whatever home-grown cults who aim to undermine Eastern Christianity as spiritual pillar of the Russian nation,” Dr. Kondratyev said to a news conference. It gathered in Moscow today to discuss rehabilitating exotic cult victims.

This orthodox-nationalist perspective is also noted in an essay on “The Place of Xenophobia in Government Policies”, from the Moscow Helsinki Group:

Public figures, actively involved in the campaign against “totalitarian sects,” serve as intermediaries of a sort between the Russian Orthodox Church and government officials. They are organized around the Center of Jeriney of Lion, headed by Alexander Dvorykin…Dvorykin’s associates in the anti-cult struggle also include public officials, like the head of expert department of the V.P Serbsky State Research Center for Social and Forensic Psychiatry, Fedor Kondratyev. The professional arguments (we shall not attempt here to make any judgments of their quality) of the latter are constantly combined with ideological passages of the following kind: “Each of the parishioners [Jehovah Witnesses] has a supervisor. The word of the supervisor is the word of God. As a result, fifty-thousand Russian passport holders are Russian citizens by law, but in fact are getting their orders from Americans, with the strings pulled from New-York, from Brooklyn.”

(I’ve blogged Dvorkin previously)

Also significant is Kondratyev’s place of employment, the Serbsky Institute. A 2004 report by Paul Goble explains:

Moscow’s Serbsky Institute, notorious in Soviet times for its criminal use of psychiatry and drugs against dissidents, is now playing an important role in the Russian government’s efforts to combat the spread of religious sects.

Earlier this month, the institute helped to organize a conference in Tula entitled “The Influence of Destructive Sects on the Health of Society,” “Tul’skiye izvestiya” reported on November 2.

…The main address to the meeting, which was hosted by the local health department and the St. John Society of Orthodox Doctors, was given by the Serbsky Institute’s Professor Fedor Kondratyev…

Kondratyev said that the influx of sectarian activists into Russia from abroad increased dramatically in the 1990s, but he argued that the purposes of this influx had not changed:

“This is one of the most effective measurs of the struggle of the  West against the powerful Russian state.  Hitler already wrote that there ought to be a sect in every Siberian village in order that Slavs not have any spiritual unity.”

Some of the sects in Russia today are “camouflaged” as Christian while others are openly “satanist,” he added. But both, he suggested “are directed against the state, society, the family, and the personality.”

In 2002, the Serbsky Institute was involved in the psychiatric evaluation of Col. Yuri Budanov, who had drunkenly raped and killed an 18-year-old Chechen woman in 2000. The evaluators overturned previous reports to declare that Budanov had been temporarily insane, and therefore non-culpable. The Chechen Times has further details:

Stuck on the matter of Budanov’s guilt, the state has turned to a familiar partner from Soviet times, a psychiatric profession that for decades followed orders to camouflage political problems behind the opaque curtain of mental illness. In doing so, however, officials have resurrected questions about psychiatry’s shameful past in the Soviet Union — and its highly politicized present.

That controversial finding has opened a broad evaluation of the Serbsky Institute’s fitness as an independent judge of mental competence…. When the military court first ordered Serbsky to test Budanov, the panel conducting the inquiry was led by Tamara Pechernikova, the doctor who condemned poet Natalya Gorbanevskaya for protesting the 1968 Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia. When that evaluation of Budanov was criticized, the court next appointed a commission that included Georgi Morozov, the former Serbsky director who had sat on many of the committees that declared prominent dissidents insane in the 1970s and 1980s.

“Practically nothing has changed. They have no shame at the institute about their role with the Communists,” said Yuri Savenko, head of the Independent Psychiatric Association of Russia. “They are the same people, and they do not want to apologize for all their actions in the past.”

Another report notes that:

Earlier in 2001, the head of the Serbsky Institute—Tatyana Dmitrieva—revealed that the Institute was subjecting “members of 20 non- traditional religious organizations” to psychiatric examinations, searching for signs of “psychological influencing” and “hypnosis.”

Just like the old days:

Raisa Ivanovna was arrested in 1973 (according to another source, 1972) among a group of eleven True Orthodox women from Vladimir. She was a teacher, the mother of two children. She was sent to the camp for political prisoners in Mordovia (385/3) for seven years. In 1974 she was subjected to a psychiatric examination in the Serbsky Institute in Moscow. Then she was returned to the camp, where the administration tried by all means possible to find witnesses who would certify that she was mentally ill.

…The “crimes” of the True Orthodox consisted in having put leaflets in the sergianist churches calling on the clergy to renounce their collaboration with Soviet power. These leaflets contained verses such as: “Satan lies under the mausoleum, his flesh has been rotting for a long time”. Some of them had photos and caricatures.