In Russia, Psychiatry Is Again a Tool Against Dissent

Washington Post
Saturday, September 30, 2006; A01

In Russia, Psychiatry Is Again a Tool Against Dissent
By Peter Finn
Washington Post Foreign Service

DUBNA, Russia — On March 23, police and emergency medical personnel stormed Marina Trutko’s home, breaking down her apartment door and quickly subduing her with an injection of haloperidol, a powerful tranquilizer. One policeman put her 78-year-old mother, Valentina, in a storage closet while Trutko, 42, was carried out to a waiting ambulance. It took her to the nearby Psychiatric Hospital No. 14.

The former nuclear scientist, a vocal activist and public defender for several years in this city 70 miles north of Moscow, spent the next six weeks undergoing a daily regimen of injections and drugs to treat what was diagnosed as a “paranoid personality disorder.”

“She is also very rude,” psychiatrists noted in her case file.

In person, Trutko presents a different profile, reserved and formal as she recounts her legal and psychiatric ordeal and invokes the minutiae of Russian law without having to refer to texts. An independent evaluation found that although she did not have an “ordinary personality,” she was “very gifted and creative” and displayed no psychiatric symptoms.

Trutko is new evidence that Soviet-style forced psychiatry has reemerged in Russia as a weapon to intimidate or discredit citizens who tangle with the authorities, according to human rights activists and some mental health professionals. Despite major reforms in the early 1990s, some officials are again employing this form of repression.

“Abuse has begun to creep back in, and we’re seeing more cases,” said Lyubov Vinogradova, executive director of the Independent Psychiatric Association of Russia, an advocacy group. “It’s not on a mass scale like in Soviet times, but it’s worrying.”

In those years, tens of thousands of dissidents were wrongfully subjected to forced hospitalization, sometimes for years, based on trumped-up diagnoses of “schizophrenia.” Dissidents were said to exhibit inflexibility of convictions and nervous exhaustion brought on by anti-government activities. “Reformist delusions,” the Soviets called it. If you were against communism, in other words, you were insane.

Some of the new cases have been abetted by institutions or doctors involved in it in the Soviet period. Trutko, who is originally from Uzbekistan, was diagnosed at the Serbsky Institute for Social and Forensic Psychiatry in Moscow, one of the most infamous of the Soviet institutions that imprisoned dissidents. It remains a secretive institution that has never faced up to its repressive past, according to human rights groups.

As recently as 2001, the institute’s director, Tatyana Dmitriyeva, denied that the Soviet Union engaged in any more psychiatric abuse than Western countries, according to the report “Human Rights and Psychiatry in the Russian Federation” by the Moscow Helsinki Group.

One of signatures on Trutko’s official evaluation, which declared she had paranoid personality disorder, is that of Yakob Landau, a longtime Serbsky psychiatrist who headed the institute’s notorious Unit No. 4 during Soviet days.

Officials at the institute, a walled and forbidding complex in central Moscow, said no one was available to comment for this article. Investigators in Trutko’s case declined to comment.

The charge that psychiatry is again being abused is not universally accepted within the profession. “The problem of forced treatment or psychiatric persecution existed more than 20 years ago, but it was solved. And since then I haven’t heard of any case of forced psychiatric examination or treatment,” said Vladimir Rotstein, president of Public Initiative on Psychiatry, an advocacy group.

The Independent Psychiatric Association, however, says that the number of activists being wrongfully hospitalized in mental facilities totals dozens of cases in recent years and is increasing. Doctors and the courts are complicit with investigators who insist on a forced psychiatric evaluation or treatment, it says. Activists have also documented an increase of family or business disputes in which wrongful hospitalization provides an opening to seize a person’s property, Vinogradova said.

Most of the targeted activists are not affiliated with major human rights groups. Rather, like Trutko, they are stubborn gadflies who are involved in long-running feuds with local authorities. Their sometimes intemperate complaints against authorities are used to open criminal investigations for slander. This allows authorities to seek hospitalization. Unlike Soviet dissidents, these activists are put away for relatively short periods of a week to several months.

Roman Lukin, a businessman in the Volga River city of Cheboksary, was hospitalized last year for “unexplainable behavior” after he held up a sign on a public square calling three judges “creeps.” Seeking redress for a bad debt that ruined him, Lukin felt he had not received justice from the courts. He spent two weeks in the local psychiatric hospital, which recommended that he undergo further examination at a specialized clinic in Moscow for possible “paranoid personality disorder.” Independent Psychiatric Association specialists evaluated Lukin and found no sign of mental illness.

Nikolai Skachkov, who protested police brutality and official corruption in the Omsk region of Siberia, was ordered to undergo a psychiatric evaluation last year because investigators said they suspected he was suffering from “an acute sense of justice.” He spent six months in a closed psychiatric facility where he was diagnosed as paranoid. The association, which conducted a separate evaluation earlier this year, found that he was healthy.

“Psychiatry in this country has always been a tool of the authorities, a tool for managing people and pressuring people. And it still is,” said Boris Panteleyev, head of the St. Petersburg Committee for Human Rights.

In an interview in her apartment, Trutko recounted her own long run-in. “Now I have this stamp on my forehead that I am a psychiatric patient,” she said. “I will always have this medical record now. That means I cannot go to court because judges say I’m a psycho and call for an ambulance.”

Trutko is well known in the courts in this town, having argued dozens of court cases against the local authorities and police. She is studying to be a lawyer, and for several years has acted as a public defender, as advocates without law degrees are called here.

Her troubles with mental health authorities began four years ago in a courtroom in Dmitrov, about 35 miles from Dubna.

Trutko asserted that the judge displayed bias against her client in a property dispute, and she moved to have the judge withdrawn. She also complained that the judge was not wearing her robe as required and that the Russian flag was improperly displayed. The judge, who later left the bench and could not be reached for comment, alleged that Trutko said, “Look at that fat pig sitting up there,” according to legal papers.

Prosecutors opened a criminal case against Trutko on charges of contempt of court. In July 2003, the court ordered Trutko to undergo an involuntary psychiatric evaluation. Psychiatrists at the hospital said she was uncooperative, illogical and displayed emotional reactions that were “not adequate” — a common phrase here for mental illness.

The Independent Psychiatric Association questioned these conclusions. Its own evaluation of her, conducted by four psychiatrists, found that “she is not an ordinary personality, but a very gifted and creative person. . . . No psychiatric symptoms were observed. She shows high intellectual ability and good memory. She does not need any treatment.”

Trutko continued to battle the criminal complaint in court. Before a hearing at the higher Moscow regional court, she filed a motion seeking the removal of a panel of judges from her case, again asserting bias. In this case there was no claim of verbal abuse, but prosecutors said her motion amounted to slander and contempt.

In April 2004, after leaving a hearing on her case in Moscow, Trutko was detained by investigators and taken to the Serbsky Institute. It was a Friday evening when she was admitted and there was no expert commission available to evaluate her, Trutko said. Human rights groups protested her detention and threatened legal action. Trutko said she was released the following Tuesday morning without having undergone any formal examination by psychiatrists.

But the institute issued a six-page evaluation that said she suffered from a “paranoid personality disorder.” The condition manifested itself in her “subjectivity,” her “tendencies to verbal aggression,” her “suspicious” personality and her “inability to understand the peculiarities of interpersonal relations and communication,” medical records show.

The report recommended that she undergo forced hospitalization and treatment.

In September 2004, a Moscow court approved that approach. But the authorities, for reasons that remain unclear, did not act on the order until they stormed Trutko’s apartment earlier this year.

Despite her subsequent release, Trutko said, the court order remains in effect and she could be institutionalized again at any time. “My career is ruined,” she said. “I just stay at home.”

Comments (7)

EugeneNovember 12th, 2006 at 8:00 am

Gangsters covered under the psychiatrists in Moscow take off people’s habitation away! That is a cruel criminal! So many peoples with a good health captivated in psychiatric hospitals for take his flatrooms away.

Marty DidierAugust 7th, 2007 at 2:24 pm

I was in a family for more than 26 years who soon after marrying joined Organized Crime only this wasn’t any ordinary Crime System in the Chicago Area. Their job within this system is to launder criminal money straight into property using Mortgage Fraud with Big Banks. It needs to be known that this criminal system is a World Wide Organized system uses Psychiatry as a Tool against those who threaten them. They have other methods of removing threatening people as well that is considered murder from obvious methods to those which are completely covert. In all cases that I know of, those murdered were labled as being an accident.

However, the mentally ill focus is alive and well within the US. I for one when confronting a large group known to be linked to my family for murder became the target of their interest to be labeled as mentally ill. Beware as this is a real issue to be concerned about here in the US.

Marty DidierAugust 7th, 2007 at 2:44 pm

Unfortunately I don’t have much time nor can I effectively use Word to write my post today. The reason is that Word is being used as another tool to monitor those who write and if they disaprove, your efforts will be stopped. I’ve lost numerous computer equipment, storage devices and floppy disks in my efforts to get the word out.

One reason I may be targetted is because the family was laundering “Drug and Gun Running” money for those involved in a huge drug system. Some of this is already in the news ie, Drummond and Chiquita. But I also know from the family that both and mostly Chiquita were shipping in huge shipments of drugs. The Chicago shipment is a weekly $100 Million shipment that is split with New York and Florida. The drugs are protected by corruption from their origin all the way to their destination(s). There are numerous articles on the Internet that show parts of this.

As for me, since being harassed constantly for more than a decade, I’ve had to battle changes within my personality. You do become easily irritated when around people especially when you’ve been harassed constantly. Then those interested in your doom will try to move you into other more serious trouble. Please accept that my story involves more than 30 years of dealing with this so to talk about any part can be difficult since it involves many things.

Overall, the criminal component involved is well organized across the land. What we once knew to be The MOB isn’t anylonger since they too are well integrated into this criminal web. I know this again from my experience since I’ve been invited to MOB parties and for years with the family direct links to the MOB have surfaced. As an example, Abramoff and Gus Boulis is a well known within my life’s experience and I can assure you that there is a lot more to talk about regarding what happened to Gus Boulis and his Casino Boarts and how he lost his business. The family was considering purchasing Gus Business in 1996 which was before he had to sell it to Abramoff. But there were a few others wanting to be in on the buy and guess who they were. As mentioned there is a lot more about this that can be explained another time.

Marty DidierAugust 7th, 2007 at 3:01 pm

My view of this comes from the bottom up but “up” means that I know a great deal about the top. Having this knowledge isn’t comforting since the family also commented often of what bothered them as well. My message is that it may be important to see this now as a Tool, but please understand that there is something else laying underneath that is using this Tool. This “thing” that I’ll call it for now, is something we all need to learn about now. The Mental Health area, as a health function, is full of holes. Frankly there are funcitonal holes in every system but unfortunately these holes are what are being used to aid their interests.

My hope is that what I said above makes sense as to need to explain in depth everything I’ve said could consume this webpage.

I’m glad we as a people are starting to climb a mountain of surfacing questions to what is happening to us. But as we journey we are also turning over rocks that will expose new questions that some are more serious than what we expect. The problem of using Mentall Health as a Tool to stop dissent is real, horribly crippling, very destructive and we need to look beyond to see why it’s being used.

Marty DidierAugust 7th, 2007 at 4:04 pm

Again I’m going to appologize for submitting segmented posts, but the only way I’m able to effectively post is in tiny steps otherwise I’ll be stopped. If you understand computer technology, you’ll understand what I’m talking about.

Above I mentioned that the family laundered “Drug and Gun Running” money for a huge Criminal System which they often bragged as being “The World’s Largest Criminal System”. Please accept that this Criminal System extends beyond US borders well into other Countries. As an example, just the Chicago shipment
(s) when summed surpass 5 Billion per year and to know that there are other huge shipments sent elsewhere shows that a voluminous amount of money is involved. It may be difficult to believe, but this huge drug system is a source of income, in large part, for the Criminal System’s projects.

One ongoing project that I’m aware of is to stop people who in their eyes are a threat using Mental Health as a Tool, among other criminal methods. In support of my statement, I was directly threatened by the family back in the 90′s (still married) that if I talk to anyone about anything regarding the Criminal System, I would be “setup” like others (as in Texas (their example) and elsewhere). Furthermore it was mentioned (in other more lengthly terms) that if I became enough of a threat, I would be eliminated and the cause would be known as an accident. Some of the proof came later when my house, car and office were constantly being broken into as well as threatening behavior with car accident setups and much more. I do personally know of people who have been murdered with car accident setups so living through this was like living in hell. As you can see, there is a lot more that I have to say and there is proof as well.

Sorry for having to explain all of this but I felt it necessary to share some of my background. This way, some of the “WHY” and “WHAT” behind using “Psychiatry as a Tool” may be understood.

Oops WrongplanetJuly 2nd, 2009 at 5:42 pm

Psychiatry is being used as punishment against dissent right here in the U.S., right now. Every 1 1/4 minutes a person is incarcerated in a psych ward against their will — this is the SAME RATE at which people are being imprisoned (and tortured) in psych wards around the entire planet! All it takes is a false accusation and they can whisk you out of anywhere — even your workplace — over a RUMOR — with NO OPPORTUNITY to face your accusers and denial of all legal rights, including denial of access to an attorney. But that’ll be the day when you see a paper like the Washington Post publish a real article about the subject!

Vladimyr ChecknoskyAugust 24th, 2019 at 12:45 am

I was committed by my wife because of some anger issues, and the lady doctor gave me painful injections in my arm, and buttocks, for not respecting my wife. She kept me there for six months. Women doctors run russian hospitals like a prison under their medical authority. I am now scared of any nurse in a white uniform.

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