In the Psychiatric Hospitals: December 1977 to February 1978 (48.12)

<<No 48 : 14 March 1978>>

This section has been compiled, in the main, from materials in the Information Bulletins of the Working Commission to Investigate the Use of Psychiatry for Political Purposes: Nos. 5 (15 December 1977),  6 (1 February 1978) and 7 (24 February 1978).

On the cover of Bulletin No. 5, as on the preceding issue is written: “Members of the Commission: Vyacheslav Bakhmin, Irina Kaplun, Alexander Podrabinek, Felix Serebrov”. Bulletin No. 7 states that Irina Kaplun has left the Working Commission. Bulletin No. 6 is a special issue devoted to the case of Vladimir Rozhdestvov (CCE 47) and it was compiled by Vyacheslav Bakhmin, Alexander Podrabinek and Tatyana Osipova, a member of the Moscow Helsinki Group.

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In the Special Psychiatric Hospitals

Tashkent Special Psychiatric Hospital

Sometime between 20 and 29 January 1978, Vladimir Rozhdestvov (CCE 47) was moved to the Tashkent SPH from Kaluga [Central Russia].

On 9 December 1977, members of the Working Commission V. Bakhmin, I. Kaplun and A. Podrabinek appealed to the American Psychoanalytic Association to speak out in defence of V. Rozhdestvov and to condemn the use of Soviet psychiatry for political ends.

On 27 December, the RSFSR Supreme Court considered the appeal of defence lawyer N.Ya. Nimirinskaya against the decision of the Kaluga Regional Court of 23 November in the case of V. Rozhdestvov. Nimirinskaya told the court that the actions performed by Rozhdestvov could not be classified under Article 190 of the Russian Criminal Code, since expressing opinions on the incorrectness of policies pursued in the USSR, listening to foreign radio-stations and praising life in capitalist countries did not constitute a crime under this Article. She gave a similar assessment of other points in the indictment: an “ideologically harmful” poem, the manuscript on two pages of an exercise book, and the conversations with Voronin. Nimirinskaya also stated that she considered the conclusion of the out-patient forensic-psychiatric diagnosis to be insufficiently grounded and not objective:

“Twelve days after Rozhdestvov’s internment in the Kaluga Region psychiatric hospital and three weeks before the criminal case against him was instituted, doctor-psychiatrist Tronina (who is a forensic-psychiatric expert) had already expressed her opinion in a letter specifically about Rozhdestvov. It was impossible to keep Rozhdestvov in a general hospital, she wrote, recommending his transfer to a Special Psychiatric Hospital. Yet she could then have known anything about Rozhdestvov committing any sort of socially dangerous actions.

“It is no accident that, when requesting a forensic-psychiatric diagnosis, the investigators entrusted it to precisely those doctors who had been keeping Rozhdestvov in a psychiatric hospital and who had already expressed their opinion on the necessity of his compulsory treatment in a special hospital.”

Nimirinskaya pointed out gross violations of judicial procedure committed by the Kaluga court. Of eight witnesses named in the court’s decision, only one had been questioned during the trial while six witnesses had not even been summoned. She had petitioned for them to be summoned by the court but her petition had been rejected; nonetheless, their evidence at the pre-trial investigation had been taken into account at the trial and had featured in the court’s decision. The court had also rejected her application for the appointment of a fresh diagnostic team and not allowed her to submit written questions to the psychiatric expert. Nimirinskaya asked for the decision of the Kaluga Region Court to be set aside and for the case to be reconsidered. The Supreme Court did not accept her appeal.

Bulletin No 6 of the Working Commission is 35 pages long. It contains a “Legal Analysis by the consultant lawyer of the Working Commission” S.V. Kalistratova, and the “Opinion of a consultant psychiatrist of the Working Commission on the diagnosis of V.P. Rozhdestvov”. The second document ends with the words:

“The conclusion that Rozhdestvov was ‘mentally incompetent’ i.e., lacked a critical attitude towards his own actions and an incapacity to control them, is not supported by any evidence.”

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The Pentecostalist Anna Vasilyevna Chertkova (see in this issue, CCE 48.16) is held in Tashkent SPH.

Kazan Special Psychiatric Hospital

In May 1977, on account of the objections of a representative of the Serbsky Institute, the regular commission did not put forward Boris Yevdokimov (CCE 47) for discharge from the SPH, although the hospital doctors consider his discharge possible.

In summer 1977 Yevdokimov was prescribed a course of Tizertsin (10 injections plus tablets for a week). In the morning he takes Teofedrin — without it he is unable to get up.

The first psychiatric diagnosis after Yevdokimov’s arrest in 1971 (Article 70 of the Russian Criminal Code) for publishing in Possev (CCE 26) ruled him responsible. Then he began to simulate mental illness, and the second diagnostic team, diagnosing schizophrenia, ruled him “mentally incompetent”. Later Yevdokimov regretted and confessed his simulation of illness. He also stated that he had renounced political activities and was “politically neutral”.

In face-to-face conversations with Yevdokimov the doctors acknowledged his simulation of illness and the absence of symptoms, but they say that it would be ‘inconvenient’ to change the diagnosis.

On 10 December Alexander Podrabinek sent a statement to the chairman of the Leningrad City Court:

“The Working Commission has in its possession information justifying the view that B.D. Yevdokimov’s state of health does not necessitate compulsory treatment.

“In accordance with Article 412 pt. 3 of the Russian Code of Criminal Procedure the Commission petitions for the cessation of compulsory measures of a medical nature in relation to B.D. Yevdokimov.”

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The Kiev Region Court has refused to allow Nikolai Plakhotnyuk (CCEs 28, 43) a discharge from a Special Psychiatric Hospital. At the end of December 1977, the medical commission (CCE 47) put him forward for discharge for the second time and again sent his case to the Kiev Region Court. On 12 January 1978, the Working Commission sent an application to the court and to the Kiev Region Procurator for an end to the compulsory treatment of N. Plakhotnyuk.

Kim Davletov (CCEs 39, 46) has been transferred to an ordinary mental hospital.

Alma-Ata Special Psychiatric Hospital (Talgar)

Sergei Purtov (CCE 26) is being held here, in the seventh division. His brother Ivan was released from a psychiatric hospital in 1977.

Chernyakhovsk Special Psychiatric Hospital

The reason for transferring Arvidas Cehanavicius from Kaunas ordinary psychiatric hospital to the Chernyakhovsk SPH in the Kaliningrad Region (CCE 46) is that he had twice attempted to escape (in 1974 and 1975).

Sychyovka Special Psychiatric Hospital (Smolensk Region)

Vladimir Sergeyevich MAXIMOV (b. 1920) has been here since 1973. Soon after he had finished secondary school in 1937, Maximov was given ten years in the camps. In 1947, a few months after his release, Maximov was arrested on a charge of forming a “League of Veterans of Soviet Concentration Camps”.

A forensic-psychiatric team of the Serbsky Institute ruled Maximov mentally incompetent (the diagnosis was schizophrenia). Maximov was then in the Kazan SPH. In 1972 he was released. On attempting to give his stories about the SPH to foreign correspondents Maximov was rearrested and charged under Article 70, pt. 2 of the Russian Criminal Code. He was again ruled mentally incompetent.

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In August 1977 Vasily Ivanovich SHIPILOV (b. 1922) was transferred from the Sychyovka SPH to an ordinary hospital (Krasnoyarsk Region, Poimo-Tiny settlement, Regional Psychiatric Hospital No. 1).

In 1939, when Shipilov was studying in a seminary, he was arrested and given ten years in a camp. Soon after his release, Shipilov was arrested in 1949 on a charge of Anti-Soviet Agitation. In 1950 he was ruled mentally incompetent and interned in the Kazan SPH. Since 1960, Shipilov has been held in the Sychyovka SPH. The head of ninth division, Yelena Leontyevna Maximova, has repeatedly told him that he will not be released until he renounces his religious belief.

Dnepropetrovsk Special Psychiatric Hospital

Since the beginning of September 1977 Josif Terelya (CCE 47) has been incarcerated here. He has been prescribed Steilazin and Tsiklodol, as a result of which his ulcer has worsened. Doctor Nelya Mikhailovna Budkevich told Olena Timofeyevna Terelya, Terelya’s wife, that a symptom of his illness was his desire to leave the Soviet Union.

On 10 June 1977, the Beregovo district court considered the case of Josif Terelya’s attempted escape from a psychiatric hospital (CCE 46) and ordered his transfer to an SPH. Neither Terelya, his wife, nor a defence lawyer was at the trial. In mid-June, the Beregovo district procurator A.M. Meshko informed Terelya’s wife that the decision of the court on 10 June had been abrogated, since Terelya’s right to a defence had been violated: soon there would be a fresh trial, he said, and Terelya would be sent to an SPH all the same.

At the beginning of July Josephchuk, the chairman of the district court, told Olena Terelya that the law did not oblige them to inform her of the date of her husband’s trial or of the decision of the court. On 4 July Olena Terelya sent a statement to the Transcarpathian Regional Court demanding that the administration of the Beregovo psychiatric hospital, the Beregovo district court, the regional Procuracy and the Regional KGB all be brought to trial. In her statement she said: “All the actions against my husband have been aimed at damaging his health, and perhaps at his deliberate murder.”

Only at the end of July did Olena Terelya find out that a repeat trial of her husband had already taken place, sometime between 20 and 30 June.

Mrs Terelya sent a declaration to the World Psychiatric Association’s Committee for the Investigation of Complaints against the Use of Psychiatry for Political Ends:

“I am a doctor, and I affirm that my husband is not in need of compulsory treatment in a psychiatric hospital.

“I appeal to you to help my husband. I ask you to help him in any way you, doctor-psychiatrists, can help him. You possess documents — the letters of Josif Terelya — in which his ‘crime’ and his ‘illness’ are contained. My husband and I rely on you to investigate his case and, if this proves possible, to carry out a diagnosis …! ask the Committee to do everything possible to obtain the release of my husband.”

(A resolution to set up such a Committee was passed at the Congress of the World Psychiatric Association in Honolulu in August 1977. However, it has not yet been established, Chronicle.)

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On 17 December 1977, Vyacheslav Bakhmin, Irina Kaplun and Alexander Podrabinek sent a letter to the head doctors of the Leningrad, Oryol, Smolensk, Sychyovka (Smolensk Region), Kazan, Chernyakhovsk, Dnepropetrovsk, Tashkent and Alma-Ata (Talgar) Special Psychiatric Hospitals:

“The Working Commission is taking under its observation those inmates of your establishment regarding whom — from episodes in the materials of their pre-trial investigation or in the court decisions to apply compulsory treatment of a medical nature to them — it is reasonable to conclude that they have been interned for political or religious reasons…

“We call on you not to forget your duty as a doctor and not to undertake actions which compromise you as a doctor and a person.”

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Forcible Hospitalizations

On 15 February 1978 Yevgeny Borisovich NIKOLAYEV was forcibly hospitalized in Moscow’s Kashchenko psychiatric hospital No 1.

Ye. Nikolayev (b. 1939) graduated from the geography faculty of Moscow State University in 1969. He was forcibly hospitalized in a psychiatric hospital for the first time from September 1970 until January 1971, for refusing to accept “socialist obligations” in honour of the 21st Party Congress. Nikolyaev was hospitalised a second time from February 1971 until July 1971; a third time, from August 1971 until July 1972; and a fourth time, from February until May 1974.

On 14 September 1977, Yevgeny Nikolayev sent a letter to the USSR Minister of Health:

“Mr Minister!

“… I call on you to do all in your power to ensure that Soviet psychiatrists consistently observe the British, Australian and New Zealand resolution and the 10-point Declaration of Hawaii, both passed at the International Congress … I consider it essential that the Committee for the Investigation of Cases of the Misuse of Psychiatry for Political Ends should have permanent representation in Moscow.”

On 29 October 1977, Nikolayev sent the Working Commission a letter about the situation of people on the psychiatric register. He proposed that the Working Commission

“also take measures in defence of those who are illegally placed on the psychiatric register … the release of a dissident from a psychiatric hospital cannot be seen as a victory as long as he continues to be on the psychiatric register, and as long as the Damoclean Sword of further hospitalizations hangs over him.”

On 25 November 1977, Nikolayev renounced his Soviet citizenship and requested permission to emigrate with his family “to any non-communist country”. The same day, a group of workers held a press conference for foreign correspondents in his flat (see “A Free Trade-Union” in this issue, CCE 48.21).

On 12 December 1977, district policeman A.D. Pulyayev called on Nikolayev at his home and said that he was obliged to give him urgent medical assistance. Nikolayev did not open the door to him.

On 13 December, in a letter to the Presidium of the USSR Supreme Soviet, Nikolayev demands to be allowed to leave the USSR, and “that Mr Pulyayev, of Police Station 137, who has got out of hand, be kept in check”.

On 14 December, Alexander Podrabinek sent letters of identical content to V.K. Svishchev, chief doctor of the Soviet district psychoneurological dispensary (Moscow), and to V.P. Kotov, Chief Psychiatrist of Moscow:

“The Commission would like to inform you that it knows the circumstances of Yevgeny Borisovich NIKOLAYEV’s case.

“The conclusion of the Commission’s psychiatric expert is that ’Nikolayev shows no symptoms of mental illness. Mildly expressed personality changes of an organic type are apparent. He does not require treatment in a psychiatric hospital’.

“The application to Nikolayev of compulsory measures of a medical nature will be regarded by the Commission as a misuse of psychiatry for political purposes.”

On the evening of 15 February 1978, when Nikolayev was returning home, he was detained in the entrance to his home by police and people in civilian dress. Nikolayev was not even allowed to tell his wife that he was being detention. He was taken away to the Kashchenko psychiatric hospital. In the waiting-room Nikolayev was asked (without the slightest justification): “Why did you try to get into the American Embassy?” Later Nikolayev’s wife was told at the hospital that her husband had been interned “for holding a press-conference”.

Nikolayev was put in section six, and intensive treatment began with neuroleptics (Aminazin and Triftazin).

On 19 February, in a statement to the RSFSR Procuracy, Nikolayev demanded his immediate release from the psychiatric hospital and that policeman Pulyayev and the doctors of psychiatric dispensary No. 13 of Moscow’s Soviet district, who had written the order for his hospitalization, should be brought to trial.

On 20 February, the Working Commission appealed in a letter to Pierre Pichot, President of the World Psychiatric Association. Citing several cases of forcible hospitalization of members of the Free Trade Union (in this issue, CCE 48.21 “Miscellaneous Reports”) as well as that of Ye. Nikolayev, the Commission writes:

“… The Working Commission to Investigate the Use of Psychiatry for Political Purposes has appealed in letters to Alexander Churkin, chief psychoneurologist at the USSR Ministry of Health, and to Vyacheslav Kotov, Chief Psychiatrist of Moscow, but neither has had any results. The Working Commission has not received any replies; meanwhile hospitalizations in psychiatric hospitals have continued.

“Mr President! We call on you to use all your authority and the authority of the World Psychiatric Association to end the practice of using psychiatry in the USSR for punitive political purposes …”

The letter is signed by Vyacheslav Bakhmin and Alexander Podrabinek.

At the end of February A. Podrabinek had a conversation at the Kashchenko hospital with department head M.I. Belikov. Podrabinek referred to the opinion of the Working Commission’s psychiatric consultant (see above). Belikov replied that they considered Nikolayev to be ill.

On 3 March, Nikolayev was visited by his acquaintance Anatoly Pozdnyakov, a member of the Free Trade Union. They spoke through a window. At the end of the conversation Nikolayev threw a note to Pozdnyakov. As Pozdnyakov was leaving, a man in a white coat caught up with him; he beat  Pozdnyakov, went through his pockets and took the note and other papers, “If you complain you’ll end up here with us,” he said. Pozdnyakov’s appeal to the police and his request to be sent for forensic-psychiatric diagnosis remained unanswered.

On 12 March, when Nikolayev’s wife wanted to come and visit him, she was detained in the entrance hall of the hospital and, on the pretext of a need to check her papers, taken to the police station.

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18 people have signed an appeal in defence of Yevgeny Nikolayev:

“… Yevgeny Nikolayev repeatedly spoke out in defence of prisoners of conscience in the USSR. His signature stands under many documents and appeals in defence of people’s rights. He has been a translator at press-conferences and has held them in his own home. And now, to punish him and warn others, he has for the fifth time been put in a psychiatric hospital …

“Psychiatric terror continues. Its latest victim, Yevgeny Nikolayev, needs the support and defence of the world public.”

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From 13 October 1977 until 11 November 1977, Pyotr Mitrofanovich SEBELEV (b. 1916) was held in Moscow psychiatric hospital No. 3.

From 1939 until 1958 Sebelev served in the Soviet army. In 1958 he retired into the reserve with the rank of Lieutenant-Colonel. Sebelev took part in the Great Patriotic War, holds 12 government decorations and graduated from two technical higher education institutions.

In 1962, Sebelev wrote a letter to Khrushchev. He sent copies of this letter to members of the Presidium of the Central Committee and to the Field Marshals [of the Soviet Army]. In the letter he subjected Khrushchev’s activities to sharp criticism. The letter ended with a call to members of the Presidium to relieve Khrushchev of his post and establish a genuinely collective leadership of the country.

On 13 April 1962, Sebelev was arrested. During a search notes of his conversations with generals and marshals, a manuscript of an epic written by him about the Second World War, “The Battle of the Nations”, and correspondence with publishing houses and reviewers were taken away. After two interrogations at the KGB Sebelev was sent to the Serbsky Institute. 18 days later, with a diagnosis of “paranoid personality development”, he was sent to the Leningrad SPH where he stayed until October 1963.

In 1964, for his work on plans to develop regions of the Far North, Sebelev received the gold medal of the Exhibition of National Economic Achievements. In 1969, after improving his qualifications at a military academy, Sebelev was given the rank of colonel in the reserves.

On 3 November 1975, Sebelev was detained in the street and sent to Moscow psychiatric hospital No. 14 for three weeks. The same day KGB officials seized Sebelev’s manuscript “Battle for the Planet” (a new version of the confiscated “Battle of the Nations”).

In January 1976, Sebelev sent two letters to the 25th Party Congress, which, in particular, criticised the activities of the KGB and the abuse of psychiatry. Just before the Congress was due to open Sebelev was again put into psychiatric hospital No. 14 for three weeks.

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On the morning of 23 November Jewish refusenik Yefim Pargamanik (CCE 47) was visited at his home by a local policeman who invited him to the police station, supposedly to be cautioned about parasitism. Once at the station, Pargamanik was taken off to the Pirogov psychiatric hospital, and held there for 24 hours.

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Vladimir Veretennikov has been let out of psychiatric hospital. He was compulsorily hospitalized in Leningrad prior to the celebrations of the 60th anniversary of the October Revolution (CCE 47).