Filed under: Russia
Above left, you see Ms. Larisa Arap, a writer, political activist and member of Garry Kasparov's United Civil Front opposition group, especially the local chapter in the northern city of Murmansk. In June, Arap renewed her driver's license and underwent a complete medical examination (including mental health screening) as required. She was found to be fit. But on July 5th she was seized by local authorities in Murmansk and imprisoned at a mental institution without due process. When she responded by going on a hunger strike to protest her imprisonment, this act was used to support a finding, on July 18th, that she was a danger to herself and to justify a commitment order. On the right, you see Arap after that tortuous process concluded, as photographed by her daughter's cell phone during a visit (the daughter was at first denied visitation and threatened with imprisonment). The attack on Arap comes close on the heels of her publication of an article in the "March of the Dissenters" newspaper in Murmansk which critically described the methods of treatment used in Murmansk psychiatric hospitals for the "treatment" of children and adolescents which included charges of beatings and rapes.
Arap has been forcibly medicated and the facility has refused to reveal details about her treatment. United Civil Front has lodged a formal protest with Russia's human rights czar, Ombudsman Vladimir Lukin, and his spokeswoman has stated: "We have decided to investigate this situation." She added an independent psychiatric commission would be set up and sent to Arap's hospital to examine her. "Only after this will we be able to draw some conclusions and, if needed, take action," the spokeswoman said. Reporters Without Borders has condemned this latest neo-Soviet attack on Russia's journalistic community. Publius Pundit has reported previously on Russia's reinvigoration of the Soviet tactic of using mental hospitals as a tool for suppressing dissent. Still more information about this growing outrage can be found here.