Last Updated: Thursday, 26 May 2016, 08:56 GMT

Russian protesters decry psychiatric pressure on believers

Publisher Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty
Publication Date 29 January 2009
Cite as Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, Russian protesters decry psychiatric pressure on believers, 29 January 2009, available at: [accessed 27 May 2016]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

January 29, 2009

Larisa Arap before her incarceration (left) and afterLarisa Arap before her incarceration (left) and after

Activists in St. Petersburg have demonstrated to protest against the use of psychiatric pressure to try to change religious beliefs.

The director of the Civic Commission on Human Rights, Roman Chorny, told RFE/RL's Russian Service that there have been cases in St. Petersburg in which family members sent their relatives to psychiatric institutions in an effort to "cure them" of specific religious beliefs.

Chorny said it is extremely worrisome that psychiatrists are given the power to decide which religious beliefs are acceptable and which need to be "cured."

Russia's mental-health institutions have come under harsh criticism from human rights defenders for being used as an instrument of pressure and abuse against various people, including political activists.

In 2007, an opposition activist in Murmansk, Larisa Arap, was institutionalized against her will after she wrote a newspaper story alleging abuses at local psychiatric hospitals.

Human rights advocates warned that the case marked a return to Soviet-era practices, when dissenters were commonly locked away in mental institutions.

Copyright notice: Copyright (c) 2007-2009. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036

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