Kazan SPH, October 1969 (10.10)

«No 10 : 31 October 1969»

In Issue 8 of the Chronicle [CCE 8.7] some information was given about the Special Psychiatric Hospitals, i.e. hospitals with a prison regime, where, together with people who have committed terrible crimes when not answerable for their actions, dissenters who have been declared mentally ill are frequently sent. In this issue the Chronicle gives some detailed information about the Special Psychiatric Hospital in Kazan [Tatarstan ASSR].

Kazan Special Psychiatric Hospital

The hospital has eleven sections; two of them house working patients. In the third the patients sew aprons, sheets and other articles, and in the fourth they are responsible for keeping the hospital in good repair. The working day is three and a half hours long; the monthly wage is two roubles, irrespective of productivity. Section 11 is designed for tubercular patients, but frequently healthy people are put into the cells with them, especially new arrivals. Patients are transported to the hospital in the usual way — in Stolypin rail-waggon [Commentary 10] and voronki [black Marias].

Treatment by Sulfazin injections is widely used in the hospital; this reduces the patient to a very serious condition: a temperature of 40 degrees Centigrade [104 Fahrenheit], weakness, rheumatism of the joints, headaches, and pains in the buttocks, where the injections are given. In normal psychiatric practice, as is well known, such injections are used as an extreme measure when violent fits occur. A less dangerous method of treatment is by intramuscular injections of Aminazin [Chlorpromazine], but this is carried out in such a way that the injected Aminazin is not absorbed, but forms malignant tumours which have to be removed later by operation [note 1].

If the patients commit offences — refuse to take medicine, quarrel with the doctors, or fight — they are strapped into their beds for three days, sometimes more. With this form of punishment, the elementary rules of sanitation are ignored: the patients are not allowed to go to the lavatory, and bedpans are not provided.


The hospital library overflows with hack-writings from the Stalin period, but months pass without even these books being issued.

Into this hospital people are put whose dissenting views are a ‘crime’ and a ‘disease’. However, a case is known when a man was taken there who was really ill, and had not committed a crime. This man, whose name was Vladimir (the Chronicle does not know his surname), had an epileptic fit on the street. The police picked him up and took him to a sobering-up station. When he protested that he was not drunk, but ill, they beat him up savagely. His wife, who had written proof of the beating, wished to institute criminal proceedings against the policemen. However, the doctor who was treating the man, and his lawyer, persuaded him and his wife ‘not to get involved in anything’. For one and a half years Vladimir was in an ordinary psychiatric hospital, and then he was sent to Kazan.

The Chronicle reminds its readers that according to the Russian Criminal Code [Articles 58-60] internment in a special psychiatric hospital, like any other forcible treatment, can only be prescribed by a court [note 2].

The address of the hospital is: Kazan, UE 148/ building 6.



[1] The use of drugs “for treatment and as punishment” was described in Sidney Bloch and Peter Reddaway, Russia’s Political Hospitals (1977).

[2] The two routes in the USSR to commitment to a psychiatric hospital, civil and criminal, were outlined and illustrated with case studies in Bloch and Reddaway (1977), chapters 5 & 6.