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Grigory Pasko: Independence Punished by Psychiatry in Russia, Part 1

Nationalist Alexander Dugin, who heads the «Eurasian Movement», recently declared: “There are no more opponents of the Putinite course, and if there are, then they are mentally ill and need to be sent to get a medical examination. Putin is everywhere, Putin is everything, Putin is absolute, Putin is irreplaceable.”

Independence is punished by the nut-house By Grigory Pasko, journalist In search of the insane In the sixth hour of the evening, the Moscow-Vorkuta train brought me to Yaroslavl. I stepped out of the car. It was dark, damp, and very cold. The first thing I saw was a young man strolling along the platform… in his underpants. As it was, I happened to be travelling to meet with a resident of Yaroslavl Oblast whom the power had called insane. That is, I was prepared for all kinds of things. But something like this, right there on the platform when I had just barely arrived?! On the way to the hotel, I stepped into the local «McDonald’s» for a cup of tea. Two teenagers sat down at the table next to mine. I watched as during the course of ten minutes they ate… four Cheeseburger Royales® [known as Quarter Pounders® in North America–Trans.] apiece. Were they insane? But I should be talking… What normal person would go drink tea of the Russian firm «Maysky chai» in a «McDonald’s»?

Day of the ChekistOn 20 December in Russia they celebrated the Day of the FSB. At a solemn evening dedicated to the Day of Workers of the Organs of Security (that’s what this holiday has been named in recent years), president of Russia Vladimir Putin demanded of the special services that they strictly observe the laws and protect the rights of citizens. “All actions of the organs of security must strictly rest on the norm and letter of the law, correspond to the objectives of the dynamic, advanced development of our society”, said Putin.And right on the eve of this so-called holiday, independent journalist Andrei Novikov was released from a psychiatric hospital in Rybinsk (Yaroslavl Oblast).Novikov is one of many in today’s Russia in relation to whom the special services have demonstrated, to speak in the language of Putin, “strict observance of the norm and letter of the law”. Or, to speak in the language of truth, they persecuted an independent person for thinking differently.Recently, the leader of the Finnish-Russian Civic Forum, Heidi Hautala, disseminated a declaration about how forcible psychiatric treatment in Russia is becoming a common means for suppressing the opposition.Indeed, there have already been quite a few examples in this year alone. In July, Larisa Arap, a member of the Murmansk branch of the United Civic Front, was put in the psychiatric hospital of the city of Apatity for forcible treatment after she had written in an opposition newspaper on abuses in the hospital.In November, an activist with «The Other Russia», Artyom Basyrov, was put in a psychiatric hospital in Yoshkar-Ola, the capital of the Republic of Marii-El, a day before a planned opposition rally, one of the organizers of which he had been.Andrei Novikov, a journalist from Rybinsk, had been locked up in the nut-house way back in December of 2006. Then they let him out, then they locked him up again. Behind the actions of the procuracy, in the words of Andrei, stands the local FSB. And this makes sense: cases concerning so-called “extremism” are within their portfolio. Oh yes, and Dzerzhinsky’s grandchildren no doubt also recalled that Rybinsk’s former name had been Andropov – in honor of the former Soviet head of the KGB of the USSR.rybinsk1226.jpgFormerly known as Andropov. Sign at entrance to the city of Rybinsk of Yaroslavl Oblast (photo by Grigory Pasko)What was Novikov supposed to have done? From the decree of the investigator of the Rybinsk procuracy, Ye. Timofeyev, of 9 March 2007: “Novikov… in the period from 01.01.2006 through 05.12.06, being found in an apartment… with the aid of a computer created in electronic form texts of the following content…”There then followed phrases from Novikov’s articles, torn out of context.I found a typical article in Andrei’s archive. So you could have a clear picture of EXACTLY HOW Novikov wrote, I invite you to read an excerpt from this article:

“…The Putinite regime won’t give up power by itself. Does this mean that the only thing left is a takeover of power by force?“Just exactly how, pray tell?“Even if you’re very lucky, and you capture the Kremlin, destroy Putin, massacre the top political elite during their latest get-together in the “Rossiya” hall (the flower of the nation gathers there, after all, but of what color?) demolish the Lubyanka with cannon fire, start an underground war in the tunnels, break into the Ostankino tower for a short time and broadcast your will – this will still not have any effect. International forces are going to consolidate, and your rebellion will be crushed.“…The overthrow will be doomed. Because it will have neither operational nor political resources.“So what did Boris Berezovsky mean when he spoke of taking power by force in Russia?I think, only one possible thing. SOCIAL-AND-FORCE influence on the power. Organizing mass public disturbances and directing them at the Kremlin. Along the lines of a velvet revolution with lead, like in 1905. The Ukrainian pussycat variant is no good, because in Russia they pet cats against the grain of the fur. So the only thing possible here is something in between the velvet variant and an armed uprising.”

It is understandable that from the point of view of the FSB, all this scribbling is incitement to disorders and calls for the overthrow of power by violent means.I met with Andrei in his apartment in Rybinsk, which is 90 kilometers away from Yaroslavl. A squalid Soviet apartment. Decidedly a bachelor flat. On the table – a monitor and a keyboard. But they’re not connected to a computer. There is no computer: it was seized as an instrument of a crime, a year ago already. They must have forgotten to return it…novik-1226.jpgNo computer. Andrei Novikov at his desk at home (photo by Grigory Pasko)Andrei talks rapidly, like a person who is used to having people interrupt him and not listen to all he has to say. He did not display any signs of mental retardation or apparent schizophrenia.Here’s what Andrei told me.Andrei Novikov’s monologue:

On 5 December, a car drove up to the house. A group of policemen made up of four people headed by lieutenant-colonel Kameshkov sat me in the car and drove me to the procuracy. An investigator of the procuracy accused me of having committed a crime under Article 280, part 1 – calls to extremist activity. In so doing, he cited phrased torn out of context from my articles. I attempted to explain to them that I had not founded an extremist organization, had not given orders. My articles – they are nothing more than an artistic expression of thoughts.However, procurator Seregin, who was present during this, said that he didn’t give a damn about this. A case would be initiated. After this, they sent me to the investigative isolator (SIZO). On the next day, there was a brief trial, after which they directed me to Yaroslavl for a psychiatric assessment.I spent 43 days there. The ambiance is not pleasant. There were criminals there. I was beaten up numerous times. Including on New Year’s Eve. The criminals were doing this under the obvious auspices of the orderlies.43 days later, they issued me a document about the psychiatric examination that had been ordered for me. It was said there that I represent a social danger to society and that I need treatment; that I have extremist thinking; that I preach Mohammedanism… That whole business was completely absurd: One time, seeing some boys who were tormenting another chap, I exclaimed “Allahu akbar!” This was heard by neighbors. Apparently, they reported it to where things get reported. Later I tried to explain to them that this exclamation is the same thing as “Praise God!”; that this interjection is used to express anger, joy, surprise… They didn’t understand me. The denunciation got to the necessary heads, as can be seen.

(continued in Part 2)