Person of the Week: Dmitry Vorobyevsky

posted 16 May 2016, 07:49 by Rights in Russia   [ updated 16 May 2016, 07:55 ]
On 6 May 2016 opposition activist Dmitry Vorobyevsky was forcibly admitted to the Voronezh Regional Neurological Dispensary. He was forcibly removed from his home by police and medical personnel. At the clinic, he underwent involuntary psychiatric treatment. His lawyer was unable to see him until 8 May in the morning. As RFE/RL reported, it was not until 10 May that Vorobyevsky was freed by decision of a local court that rejected a request by doctors to keep the activist in the psychiatric clinic.

On 9 May 2016 Amnesty International issued an Urgent Action on the case of Dmitry Vorobyevsky, urging the authorities 'to immediately bring Dmitry Vorobyovsky before a judge and examine the grounds for his forcible detention at the psychiatric hospital, or release him immediately as he is being detained in violation of Russian law and international standards.' Amnesty International also reminded the authorities that 'involuntary psychiatric treatment should only be used in cases of severe mental illness when it is likely that that person will cause immediate or imminent harm to themselves of others' and demanded a full investigation 'into the circumstances of his detention by paramedics claiming to be gas workers and of his detention at a psychiatric institution, and into the involuntary administration of drugs, and bring anyone found responsible to account.' 

In their statement of 9 May 2016 Amnesty International provided the following additional information:

'Dmitry Vorobyovsky is well known in the city of Voronezh for his frequent protests in support of political prisoners and in opposition to government policy. He told his lawyer that some men knocked at his door at about 5pm on 6 May claiming to be from the gas company, but when he opened the door they turned out to be paramedics from the psychiatric hospital who forcibly detained him and drove him to the Voronezh Regional Neurological Dispensary. At the hospital he was tied to a bed for three hours during which he was injected with an unknown substance and given pills against his will. The doctors at the hospital claim not to know who called the psychiatric services and there was no known incident that led to his forced psychiatric treatment. When his lawyer saw him on 8 May he was calm and rational, however, he is not allowed to leave the hospital. It remains unclear what the alleged medical grounds for his detention and forcible treatment were and what medicines were administered. According to Russian law nobody can be detained for more than 48 hours without a judge’s order. When his lawyer asked the local prosecutor to intervene and demanded his release she was told that nothing could be done because of the Victory Day public holiday on 9 May. Dmitry Vorobyovsky may have been detained because of his outspoken criticism of government policy, in violation of his right to freedom of expression. Furthermore, his detention beyond 48 hours without a judge’s order is in violation of Russian law and international standards.'

In their statement of 13 May 2016, Amnesty International noted that 'The hearing on his case took place in the afternoon of 12 May and lasted for three hours. At the hearing, the prosecutor stated that there were no reasons for Dmitry Vorobyovsky’s forced hospitalisation and supported his release. One of Dmitry Vorobyovsky’s lawyers believes that the UA contributed to his release.'

Photo: Radio Svoboda

'Russian Opposition Activist Forcibly Placed In Psychiatric Clinic,' RFE/RL, 9 May 2016
'Russian Opposition Activist Released From Psychiatric Clinic,' RFE/RL, 13 May 2016