The Case of Leonid Plyushch, July 1973 (29.6)

<<No 29 : 31 July 1973>>

The case of Leonid Plyushch was tried by the Kiev Regional Court on 25-29 January 1973. The judge was Dyshel.

The case was heard behind closed doors, with the accused not present. According to the Chronicle‘s information, none of the officially appointed psychiatrists was present in court.

The defence counsel was permitted only one meeting with his client; Plyushch was not permitted access to the case file.

Nine witnesses were questioned at the trial. Among them was the man of letters Ivan Dzyuba, arrested in 1972.

The court ruled that L. Plyushch was mentally ill, and that while in a non-responsible state he had committed especially dangerous crimes coming under Article 62 of the Ukrainian Criminal Code.

Plyushch was charged with the following:

1)            Possessing several copies of A Chronicle of Current Events, the Ukrainian Herald, and other samizdat materials; and distributing some of them among his acquaintances.

2)            Writing seven articles of literary criticism whose content was ruled to be “anti- Soviet” and familiarizing several acquaintances with some of these articles.

3)            Signing open letters to the UN as a member of the Action Group; membership in the “illegal Action Group”.

4)            “Anti-Soviet agitation”—conversations with one or two of the witnesses.

By order of the court, Plyushch was sent to a special psychiatric hospital for compulsory treatment.

Plyushch’s wife and sister were allowed into the courtroom for the reading of the ruling.

***

Because of the especial secrecy with which Plyushch’s case has been conducted, the information provided on this case requires confirmation and amplification.

It has been possible to establish the following:

Two psychiatric reports on Plyushch’s mental state figure in the court ruling on his case. These reports served as the official basis for sending him for compulsory psychiatric treatment.

It is known that in fact he was subjected not to two but to three psychiatric examinations. The first was conducted in March and April of 1972 by psychiatrists from the Department of Forensic Psychiatry of the Kiev Regional Hospital (Doctor of Medical Sciences Lifshits, Department Head Vinarskaya, and Dr Kravchuk). This commission found Plyushch mentally responsible, noting that he had a “psychopathic personality”, that he “behaved somewhat demonstratively”, that he had “exaggerated pretensions”, and was a “poseur”. This examination was conducted on an out-patient basis under prison conditions at the KGB investigations prison in Kiev.

The first officially recorded examination was conducted by a commission of psychiatrists from the Serbsky Institute headed by the institute’s director G. V. Morozov, a corresponding member of the Academy of Medical Sciences.

The commission’s conclusion:

The materials of the case, including the output of manuscripts, and the results of the examination indicate that L. I. Plyushch is suffering from a mental illness—slowly-developing schizophrenia. Since youth he has suffered from a paranoid disturbance characterized by ideas of reformism, disturbance of the affective sphere and an uncritical attitude toward his condition. He represents a social danger. He must be considered non-responsible and sent to a special psychiatric hospital for compulsory treatment.

U is officially stated that the commission reached its conclusion after a month of examination under clinical conditions in the Serbsky Institute. It is suspected that in actuality there was only a two-hour talk in the investigations section of the Lefortovo Prison.

The second officially recognized examination was conducted under the direction of Academician A. V. Snezhnevsky of the Academy of Medical Sciences and organized by the USSR Ministry of Public Health.

The commission’s conclusion:

Suffers from a chronic mental illness in the form of schizophrenia. A feature of the aforementioned illness was its early onset accompanied by the formation of a paranoid disturbance—elements of fantasizing and naivete in judgements-all of which determines his behaviour. Recently it has been characterized by the appearance of ideas about developing inventions in the field of psychology. The patient has an uncritical attitude toward the offences committed.

He represents a social danger and requires treatment in a psychiatric hospital.

Since the time of the first examination his condition has improved. A disturbance in the affective-volitional sphere (apathy, indifference, passivity) has made its appearance; the stable idea of reformism has been transformed into the idea of developing inventions in the field of psychology….The patient should be sent to a psychoneurological hospital for compulsory treatment.

It is officially stated that the conclusion was reached after a clinical examination…. Actually, a few talks with Plyushch were held in the investigations section of the Lefortovo Prison. The last of these was conducted by Academician Snezhnevsky in October 1972.

In March 1973 the Ukrainian Supreme Court reviewed Plyushch’s case in an appellate proceedings. The court ruled that Plyushch should be compulsorily confined in a psychiatric hospital of ordinary type.

The Procurator’s Office of the Ukraine (in the person of the procurator supervising cases handled by the KGB) filed a protest against the appellate decision of the Ukrainian Supreme Court. She insisted that Plyushch be confined in a Special Psychiatric Hospital because of the extreme social danger of his actions.

In June 1973 the collegium of the Ukrainian Supreme Court considered the protest of the Procurator’s Office against the decision of the appellate court and ruled that the protest was well-founded.

On July 5 the Ukrainian Supreme Court handed down a final decision: “To send Leonid Ivanovich Plyushch for compulsory treatment to a special psychiatric hospital in view of the extreme social danger of his anti-Soviet acts.”

On 15 July 1973 Plyushch was sent to the Special Psychiatric Hospital in Dnepropetrovsk.

***

Leonid Ivanovich Plyushch was born in 1939. In 1962 he graduated from Kiev University (Mechanics and Mathematics Department). Until July 1968 he worked as a mathematical engineer at the Cybernetics Institute of the Ukrainian Academy of Sciences. He published a number of scientific works.

In July 1968 he was dismissed for a letter to Komsomolskaya Pravda in which he criticized an article published in that newspaper about the trial of Ginzburg and others.

All of Plyushch’s attempts to find work ended in failure.

In June 1969 Plyushch became a member of the Action Group for the Defence of Civil Rights in the USSR.

He was arrested on 15 January 1972.

Plyushch is married and his two children were born in 1959 and 1965.

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