Former USSR practices are US practices
By ALEX RODRIGUEZ | Chicago Tribune
August 12, 2007
MURMANSK, Russia - Heavy sedatives keep Larisa Arap languishing in a woozy haze at a mental asylum, the victim not of a troubled mind, her family says, but of a Soviet-era practice that continues to muzzle and punish dissent in today's Russia.
Earlier this summer, Arap, an activist with former chess champion Garry Kasparov's opposition movement, co-wrote an article that alleged abusive practices at local psychiatric clinics. When Arap appeared at a Murmansk clinic to pick up a routine medical certificate July 5, a doctor called police and had her taken to a local asylum.
The doctors handling Arap's case have made it clear why they want her committed to a mental institution, says Arap's daughter, Taisiya.
"One of the doctors asked whether I thought it was normal to write such things," Taisiya Arap said. "She said, `It's not possible to write such things. It's forbidden.'"
The Soviet Union routinely locked up dissidents in asylums, a practice that attracted worldwide condemnation because of the protests of Andrei Sakharov and other human rights activists. Today, 16 years after the Soviet collapse, authorities are increasingly returning to psychiatry to suppress political opponents or punish activists, according to human rights organizations and other watchdog groups.
The trend reflects a government that has yet to fully divest itself from a Soviet way of thinking and governing, says Yuri Savenko, president of the Independent Psychiatric Association of Russia.
"We're returning to this Soviet scenario when psychiatric institutions are used as punitive instruments," said Savenko. "I call this not even punitive psychiatry but police psychiatry, when the main aim is to protect the state rather than to treat sick people."
Soviet psychiatrists revised definitions of mental illnesses, describing paranoia as an obsession with "the struggle for truth and justice," says Vladimir Bukovsky, a writer and dissident who spent 12 years in Soviet labor camps and asylums.
"Delusion of reform - that was another Soviet definition of psychological illness," said Bukovsky, now 64 and living in London.
Arrested in the early 1960s for arranging poetry meetings in the center of Moscow, Bukovsky spent nearly two years of his imprisonment in an asylum in Leningrad, now called St. Petersburg. Doctors heavily sedated inmates to control them.
"Once they pump you with drugs, they can forget about you," Bukovsky said. "I saw people who basically were asleep for years. It's like being poisoned. Every morning I asked myself, `Am I still sane?'"
Bukovsky, who has declared his intent to run for president in the March 2008 election, says he fears a return of the authoritarian mind-set that imprisoned him. "As far as the current lot in power is concerned," he said, "using psychiatry for political purposes is a perfectly acceptable way of dealing with opponents."
Russian law allows authorities to commit someone to a psychiatric institution if the person represents a danger to himself or others, or is incapable of caring for himself. Ultimately, a judge must approve the forced placement of someone in an asylum.
In practice, however, judges routinely accept the psychiatric evaluation submitted by local authorities without question, and rarely allow the individual to submit an independent psychiatric evaluation, Savenko said.
Court-ordered psychiatric examinations are often conducted by the Serbsky Institute for Social and Forensic Psychiatry in Moscow, notorious during the Soviet era as an instrument of Premier Nikita Khrushchev's brand of psychiatric repression.
The institute's deputy director, Yevgeny Makushkin, said that Serbsky ceased being used as a government tool for psychiatric abuse when the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991.
"Psychiatry hasn't been used for political purposes in Russia for a long time," Makushkin said. "This is an outdated opinion, something from the previous century."
Savenko and human rights activists say a litany of recent cases contradicts that assertion.
Marina Trutko, a 43-year-old human rights lawyer from Dubna, a small city 57 miles north of Moscow, quarreled with a city judge in court in 2002 and was forcibly hospitalized at a local mental institution for several days.
She challenged the court's actions and was committed for psychiatric treatment again in 2004 and once more last year, when she spent six weeks at a mental health clinic outside Moscow.
"I still get threats from the Dubna court," Trutko said. "For them, I'm a thorn in their side. As a human rights lawyer, I win too many cases. I take on 150 cases a year, and most of them I win."
Arap is now being held at a mental asylum in Apatity, 93 miles south of Murmansk. Vasilyeva and Arap's husband met with the asylum's chief doctor July 31.
Vasilyeva and Arap's relatives last saw her July 31 at the Apatity clinic. She appeared underweight and groggy.
"She ran to us and cried bitterly," Taisiya Arap said. "She told me she's dying in there."
Copyright © 2007, Chicago Tribune
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Judges in the US have the option of labeling those that blow the whistle as crazy. Putting someone in a mental institution strips them of everything, including credibility. So those that get in the way of organized crime and their judge and police friends, can end up in prison and/or a mental asylum. It happens more than you think.
[click here] for my story of Police Vendettas
Kristine Blake was a former DMR worker, the Connecticut Department of Retardation. She blew the whistle and Manchester police and two DMR workers conspired to set her up for a false arrest and prison. They didn't check to see if she would be out of the country and have a stamped passport proving she wasn't in the country during the time of the false accusation, set up.
The cop and the DMR employees making the false accusation were never arrested or punished.
Another common practice is that DMR and other State employees are sent to doctors for "stress" after making a complaint. They are given medication, and then more medication for the symptoms that are created from too much and too many medications. The complainer then can be committed and the complaints don't have to be investigated.
I talked with two high ranking DMR workers at a Fairfield Co. Connecticut wedding, and a woman formerly known as Ms. G. talked about a client in a group setting, "Michelle" a violent, 260 lb. woman that had left deep scratch scars across her chest and continues to injure staff and clients of a group home. DMR workers are afraid to complain about being put at risk fearing retaliation. Michelle should be put in a more secure setting and be kept apart from others, but her powerful family would have higher ups in Connecticut government make sure DMR workers were fired and lose their pensions if they do their jobs. They want Michelle's life to be as comfortable as possible at everyone else's risk.
Kathleen Dickson was a former research scientist working for Big Pharma, she exposed a Lyme Disease treatment and testing scam and was placed in a mental hospital and later a jail, not even told what she was in for, for a number of months. She was coerced into signing an agreement not to contact authorities and lodge complaints as part of her being released from prison. Kathleen Dickson exposes Lyme Disease testing and treatment fraud here: