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Russia: Activist Alleges Abuse, Attempted Homicide During Detention

From RFE/RL

A journalist and opposition activist who was forcibly hospitalized in a Russian psychiatric clinic is claiming that she was beaten, drugged, and an attempt was made on her life during her internment.
 

Larisa Arap was released Monday (August 20) after being held 46 days against her will in a psychiatric clinic near the northern Russian city of Murmansk.  She made the allegations during an interview with RFE/RL's Russian Service on the day of her release:


"When the police and the doctors brought me, I was very severely beaten by medical staff in the reception area. Then they bound me, after making me strip naked in front of male patients. There was an attempt to kill me. I was injected with a strong soporific, and I woke up because someone was pulling off me a woman who was suffocating me with a pillow. They put pills into my mouth, forced me to swallow them, and then checked my mouth."


The 48-year-old Arap, who is a member of an opposition group led by former chess champion Garry Kasparov, says her forced internment was retribution for an article in which she denounced abuse against young patients at another local mental institution.

She was released after a commission sent by Russia's human-rights ombudsman, Vladimir Lukin, concluded that her detention was unfounded.  Arap's case has raised an international outcry. Reporters Without Borders joined Russian human-rights activists in comparing Arap's case to the Soviet practice of interning dissidents in psychiatric clinics.


A Murmansk court on Wednesday (August 22) is due to examine an appeal filed by Arap's family.

But the appeal may be hampered by a declaration that Arap claims clinic staffers forced her to sign:  "I was forced to sign a declaration in which I agree that I am being treated voluntarily. I refused, after which I was asked to sign another declaration requesting to be released but pledge to get out-patient psychiatric treatment. There was no other solution than to write this declaration. They wouldn't have let me go otherwise."

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