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Thursday, October 25, 2007

Larisa Arap Speaks

It's really encouraging to see mainstream media like the Boston Globe is not going to simply forget shocking neo-Soviet abuses like those that occurred in the case of Larisa Arap (regular LR readers are already well familiar with her; if you are not, enter her name into the search engines at the top and bottom of the page or simply click "weaponizing psychiatry" at the bottom of this post), but rather will continue to investigate and report them. The Globe reports:

It was just an errand, one more stop to get through the red tape, said Larissa Arap.

Arap, a rights activist in Russia, said she was seeking a driver's license, and all she needed was a routine signature from a doctor certifying that she was in good health. But instead of complying, a psychiatrist in the northern Russian town of Murmansk asked Arap whether she was the one who had written "Madhouse," an article in a local paper that had exposed unorthodox and dismal conditions in psychiatric wards.

As she slowly responded "yes," Arap recalled, it dawned on her why a security vehicle was parked outside. A policeman came in as two others waited in the hallway. The psychiatrist refused to sign the document.

"Because you are the author who wrote about the closed psychiatric system, which is forbidden, we are sending you to a psychiatric institution," the psychiatrist said, according to Arap.

What followed that July day was a horrific six-week stay in psychiatric wards, said Arap, who recounted her story in an interview last week in Washington.

Activists say Arap was only one of countless Russian citizens who have been wrongly spirited into the hallways of mental facilities. The tactics echo those used during Soviet times, when a whole class of professionals, doctors, judges, and low-level officials cooperated with government officials to silence critics.

Some government critics have called the phenomenon "police psychiatry."

These days, such tactics are used to muzzle political opponents, incapacitate rivals, or simply remove tenants from apartments where they are not wanted, said Marina Litvinovich, who accompanied Arap to Washington and who serves as a political adviser to the civic organization run by chess champion Gary Kasparov.

Arap said that, in her case, police dragged her out of the medical office and forced her into an ambulance, which took her to the Murmansk psychiatric clinic. She said they beat her in the waiting area, injuring her spine. Medical personnel ripped her clothes off and tied her to a bed, she said.

Officials at the clinic have denied allegations of abuse. "We are representatives of a state medical institution; they are libeling Russia," said Yevgeny Zenin, the hospital's chief doctor, according to Reuters.

Today, Arap, 49, still walks slowly, and there is swelling around her ankles.

"They started injecting me with some substance. I was petrified and I started having double vision. I lost consciousness and all sense of time. I would drift in and out of consciousness," recalled Arap.

Her skin taut over hollow cheeks, Arap said she still feels the after-effects of the experience.

While she was being held, regional representatives of Kasparov's group, the United Civil Front, and Arap's husband wrote letters demanding that the hospital stop administering the substance.

Kasparov and other rights defenders raised their voices in protest as well, and Arap was transferred to a facility in Apatity, about 180 miles away.

All in all, Arap spent 45 days in confinement; she said the conditions were humiliating. At one point, she said, she went on a five-day hunger strike to protest. She lost 22 pounds from her already-skeletal frame.

An independent commission of psychiatrists and experts was set up to look at the case at the request of human rights ombudsman Vladimir Lukin. A court eventually ruled that Arap did not need to be in a psychiatric clinic. She was released Aug. 28.

While she was held, Arap said, she spoke to dozens who were perfectly healthy but found themselves in the same situation: forcibly hospitalized for political reasons, or because of some competitive business venture that wanted them out of the picture.

Litvinovich said it's much easier to send people to a psychiatric hospital than to have them murdered. "Sure, you can get someone killed. But it is expensive and dangerous," she said. "If you have them committed, it is cheaper and simpler; you just pay off the cops, doctors, the courts."

1 comment:

Artfldgr said...

Western socialist apologists tend to diminish such things by making them seem like they are rare.

however, they sidestep the fact that these things are happening to public people, people who have others who can say something, who will call if they disappear.

all the others... you will NEVER hear about.

its interesting, but technically, if records existed and havent been destroyed, we could list out the names of all the people that went to each camp, or hospital, etc.

given that she is out.. has anyone thought to get a sample of hair from her? if they didnt shave her head, remove her gential hair, eyelashes, and brows... she has a record of the chemicals they used.

anyone care to run it through several machines that could denote and show the molecules present?

such a hospital is a nice way to take care of people, and was even used too bruskly in the west till laws and things were put in place to formalize and make harder the ability to permanently institutionalize someone.

though make no bones about it, this was not from higher up. higher up need not resort to such things, but have a wider richer set of options on their table. i will say that they were willing to look the other way, which then let the local situation take care of things as they saw fit.

higher up would have eliminated her as stalin points out numerously. even if it causes a problem, the problem is shorter lived than what could be witout it. after all, people lose energy trying to save a dead person.

i think more it was something to spread fear. the old habit is to create situations where the more massive and less protected peoples learn from. without culture to transmit whats right or wrong, people perk up using rumor and inference in place of cultural learning. to devine what the culture finds right and wrong today. tomorrow, it can be something different depending on the needs of the system. it can be condradictory.

with the list of reporters killed, and this author (perhaps others) put in mental hospital. you can pretty much guess that its not compartmentalized tightly to that little area.

the terror has started, and started a while back. there has to be a lot to happen in order for something to be percieved to change from a fluke to a situation.

it will get worse once they think the population is not working hard enough to make things work. right now its directed to those that they can see and easily believe are acting in opposition. when they run out of overts, then they will start seeing coverts everywhere since things will not get better.