OVD-Info Bulletin. Issue № 10: Punitive Psychiatry

posted 7 Jul 2017, 03:34 by Rights in Russia   [ updated 7 Jul 2017, 07:50 ]
7 July 2017

OVD-Info is a Moscow-based NGO that monitors politically-motivated arrests in Russia. Every Friday it sends out a mailing with the latest information on freedom of assembly. To receive the mailing in Russian, which is translated into English below, visit the bottom of the page here.
Greetings to our readers! 

We have not yet tired of reminding you that if you, or people you know, are waiting to go to court, you can find all you need to know here. Via this link you can find detailed advice on how to defend yourself in court, and what to do if you are a minor. We also have a legal Telegram-bot that has advice on how to behave if you are arrested. 

One might think that punitive psychiatry is a thing of the past, but today these methods are still sometimes used by the authorities to intimidate activists. We have prepared a number of publications on this theme. ”Worse than in prison” is an interview with Aleksei Moroshkin about contemporary punitive psychiatry. He was recently released from Psychiatric Hospital No. 1 in Chelyabinsk, a hospital which was also used in Soviet times to detain political opponents of the authorities. The historian Aleksei Makarov publishes letters by the dissident Nizametdina Akhmetov who was held there in 1987. The last material on this topic is the tale of an elderly woman from the town of Chekhov where residents demanded that a waste tip near to their homes be closed. 82-year-old Olga Churikova spent three days in a local psychiatric hospital because she told a police officer who was using rough force to arrest her: “Give me some paraffin and I’ll kill myself so I won’t have to put up with such treatment.” 

In various Russian cities pressure continues to be applied against the election campaign offices of Aleksei Navalny. Overnight on Wednesday - Thursday, police officers arrived at Navalny’s Moscow headquarters. They changed the locks to the premises and put bars on the windows. The officers explained their actions, including a search of the offices, on the basis of a criminal investigation into violations of contract by those renting the offices that had been alleged by the owner. Moreover, the police physically attacked Aleksandr Turovsky, who works as a volunteer at the Moscow headquarters. Turovsky says that the officers “forced him on to the floor and struck him in the face a couple of times.” He has been charged with failing to comply with the lawful instructions of police. After he was detained, Turovsky was hospitalized. While the police then demanded that he leave the hospital, he was nonetheless able to stay overnight where he underwent a cerebral centesis [removal of fluid]. The police officer who took part in the nighttime invasion of the headquarters and the beating of Turovksy wrote in his official report that he had used “unarmed combat techniques” against Turovsky because the latter had “resisted his lawful demands.”

You can read the account of Sergei Vasilchenko, a lawyer and activist of the Party of Progress, who accompanied Aleksandr Turovsky to hospital.

The same day, 6 June, police officers conducted searches at Navalny’s campaign offices in Astrakhan and Cheboksary. In these searches, as in Моscow and Novosibirsk, the police seized election leaflets. In Perm they detained a car with newspapers along with the head of the campaign office. In Оrenburg on Friday, near the building where Navalny’s campaign offices are located and where a meeting of volunteers was being held, the editor-in-chief of Ekho Moskvy - Orenburg, Maksim Kurnikov, was assaulted and his mobile phone broken. On Tuesday the Krasnodar offices of Navalny’s election campaign were attacked by people wearing T-shirts that read ‘The Putin Posse’ [Отряды Путина].

As last week, this week two activists left Russia. The head of the political channel Artpodgotovka [“Artillery Preparation”], the Saratov nationalist Vyacheslav Maltsev, left Russia after a criminal investigation was opened against him for setting up an “extremist association.” On learning of the criminal case, he decided to leave Russia without waiting to be arrested. Activist Nikita Sadkov also left the country. Sadkov has been charged with insulting the Russian flag (Article 329 of the Russian Criminal Code) and inciting hatred or enmity (Article 282). 

Trials in the 26 March case continue. OVD-Info attended the trial Stanislav Zimovets, which at that time was hearing evidence for the defence. Zimovets has been charged with “using force not harmful to life or health against a public official” (Article 318, Section 1, of the Russian Criminal Code) during the dispersal of the “Don’t Call Him Dimon” protest. On 3 July Moscow City Court dismissed an appeal against pre-trial detention by the activist Aleksei Politkov, who was detained on 10 July after a night-time search of the home of nationalist Vyacheslav Maltsev. He has also been charged with using force against a police officer. 

The trial in the murder case of politician Boris Nemtsov is drawing to a close. We have prepared a detailed report

That ends our review of the week!

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Keep your spirits up!
Always yours,
OVD-Info Team

For more information on OVD-Info, read this article from the organisation's founder on how OVD is breaking the civil society mould here.