Grigory Pasko: A Savenko Addendum

[Editor: This week our correspondent in Russia, Grigory Pasko, published two interviews with a leading psychiatric expert in Russia about the state’s forced confinement of several political dissidents. The following is an afterword Grigory wrote to go with the articles.] A compulsory afterword When Yuri Sergeyevich asked me to send him the text of the interview with him so he could look it over, I wasn’t surprised: I had heard of an incident when one journalist had supposedly written something he’d said inaccurately. And more: medical terms – this isn’t my favourite topic, so I freely admit that my dictaphone and I might not have heard some word correctly (although I love my dictaphone very much and trust it implicitly). Doctor Savenko spent a long time proofreading our conversation. He sent me his version. Imagine my surprise when I did not uncover in it the words of my interlocutor not only about today’s power, but specifically about comrade Putin. Furthermore, a bit later, the esteemed doctor sent me an addendum: “…I am sending my proofread. See to it that the places removed by me do not remain in the text.”

My esteemed Yuri Sergeyevich! I did NOT leave the places removed by you. For God’s sake, don’t you worry! And you needn’t read my opinion. But I have an obligation to write it.And here’s why.Recently, human rights ombudsman Vladimir Lukin, whom Savenko mentions often in his replies to my questions, came out with an “unmasking” of the criminal-execution [correctional] system of Russia. He talked and he talked, and he finally came to the conclusion, this brave man did, that he considered “the complex situation in institutions of the penitentiary system” (that’s what he bashfully called the chaos and lawlessness going on there) to be the consequence of “the absence of an effective system of material and moral motivation for employees of the Federal Service for the Execution of Punishments”. The Russian ombudsman asserts that “of all the organs of security, the people who ensure that criminals, including lifelong criminals, don’t end up at liberty anew before time and are not dangerous for us, this is the most important organ of security and we need to approach it precisely as such”. “These people have very heavy work and we need to render them priority assistance both in housing, and in many other aspects, and in salary”, underscored Lukin.I appreciate what Lukin does for the protection of the rights of people in Russia. And he truly does! True, he could do a lot more, in my subjective and biased view. But the cautiousness in Lukin’s words and in his deeds amazes yet again.After doctor Savenko asked to delete some places from the interview, the thought suddenly occurred to me that this super-cautiousness – is a manifestation of interaction with the ombudsman, his influence.Or maybe I’m wrong. Maybe the doctor simply did not start to devote attention to the “departing nature”, having considered it so insignificant that it was even not worth mentioning in the conversation.But it was precisely under this “nature” that punitive psychiatry was reborn in Russia! And already for this reason, the assessment that Yuri Sergeyevich gave to Putin – who in fact hasn’t gone and isn’t going anywhere – was important both for the author of the interview and, most likely, for the reader.