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All six convicted members of the Working Commission were sentenced on charges which proscribe the peaceful exercise of the right to freedom of expression. Amnesty International has adopted them as prisoners of conscience.
In December 1981 Amnesty International received reports that Sofia Kalistratova, the Working Commission's consultant lawyer, had also been faced with a charge of "circulating anti-Soviet slander"—a charge which carries a maximum sentence of three years' imprisonment. Sofia Kalistratova had acted as defense counsel in several widely publicized political trials in the 1960's and early 1970's, as a result of which her official permission to participate in political trials was withdrawn by the authorities. In her work with the Working Commission she advised on legal aspects of psychiatric confinement, and in particular contributed to Information Bulletin No. 6 (dated February 1, 1978) which was devoted to an analysis of the wrongful confinement of Vladimir Rozhdestvov. Vladimir Rozhdestvov, a 40-year-old worker from Tomsk region was arrested in September 1977 on a charge of "circulating antiSoviet slander." He was accused of listening to foreign radio broadcasts, circulating an anti-Soviet poem, and praising Western economies in conversations with friends at his hostel. He was ruled not-responsible for his actions, and at a court hearing in November 1977, which was attended by members of the Working Commission and the Moscow Helsinki monitoring group, he was sent for compulsory confinement in Tashkent special psychiatric hospital, where he now remains. There was no evidence to show that Vladimir Rozhdestvov represented a physical danger to himself at the time of his arrest, or previously.
Dr. Alexander Voloshanovich, the eighth member of the Working Commission, who had been a consultant psychiatrist to the group since it began, was forced to emigrate from the Soviet Union in February 1980, in the face of official harassment. During his three-year involvement with the group he examined 40 individuals of known nonconformist views, who feared the authorities might confine or reconfine them in mental hospitals and concluded that there was no medical justification for their forcible confinement. After he had spoken about his first examinations at a press conference in Moscow in August 1978, he was notified that an official commission had been set up in the Ukrainian city of Dnepropetrovsk under the auspices of the All-Union Society of Psychiatrists and Neuropathologists, to investigate his allegations of abuses. In October Dr. Voloshanovich was invited to attend. His meeting with the official commission, headed by the vice-president of the department of psychiatry of the All-Union Society of Psychiatrists and Neuropathologists, Dr. Vladimir Kovalyov, is reported in the Working Commission's Information Bulletin Mo. 13 (dated November20,1978). Thereport says that Dr. Voloshanovich was asked to discuss a case he had diagnosed several years previously, but was denied access to any of his materials relating to the case. The commission did not address his specific complaints that the rules for compulsory confinement had been violated in regard to the case. Dr. Voloshanovich then wrote to the Dnepropetrovsk commission expressing his willing
ness to continue collaboration, only on condition that an independent psychiatrists from the WPA be included on the team. His letter did not receive a reply, and the official commission is not reported to have taken further steps to investigate allegations of psychiatric abuse. In its report of the incident the Working Commission expressed the fear that the official commission-s aim was to discredit Dr. Voloshanovich. On October 4, 1979 Dr. Voloshanovich was detained at a railway station in the city of Gorky as he returned from examining a number of former victims of psychiatric abuse. He was searched without a warrant, and his medical notes and some books, including one on psychiatry written in English, were confiscated. Dr. Voloshanovich emigrated four months later.
Since the WPA met in 1977 other people who exposed the political abuse of psychiatry in the USSR have also been punished. Some were former victims of psychiatric abuse who had reported on their treatment to the Working Commission after their release. For example, Arvydas Cekanavicius, a 31-year-old Lithuanian medical student, wrote a letter to the Working Commission in April 1979 after he was released from six years' psychiatric confinement. He was first arrested in 1973 after poems and tape recordings of foreign radio broadcasts were confiscated during a search of his flat. In June 1979 shortly after he wrote the letter, he was once again confined and injected with powerful neuroleptic drugs. He was released in August 1979, but rearrested in November for "installing a telephone under a false name eight years previously." He is now confined for an indefinite period in Chernyakhovsk special psychiatric hospital. Another such case is that of Yury Valov, a 40-year-old campaigner for improved conditions for disabled people in the USSR. In 1978 Mr. Valov voluntarily underwent an examination by Dr. Alexander Voloshanovich, who concluded that he was not in need of compulsory confinement. Nevertheless in October 1978 he was forcibly confined in an ordinary psychiatric hospital in Moscow for four months, during which time the Working Commission and Dr. Voloshanovich appealed to hospital authorities for his release. After he was released in 1979 he addressed a letter of gratitude to the Working Commission in which he described the conditions of his confinement, and he was reconfined for a brief period shortly afterwards. Yury Valov is now confined for a fourth time, this time to an ordinary psychiatric hospital in Gorky, where he was committed against his will in February 1981.
Other individuals have been arrested who gathered information on psychiatric abuse to forward to the Working Commission. On December 8, 1978, for example, Iosif Zisels, a 32-year-old engineer in a broadcasting studio, was arrested in the Ukrainian town of Chernovtsy. His card index on 100 alleged political prisoners in Dnepropetrovsk special psychiatric hospital was confiscated, and he was later sentenced to three years' imprisonment for "circulating anti-Soviet slander." The same sentence was passed in 1981 on a 45-year-old Ukrainian from Kiev region, Anna Shevchuk, who had collected information on psychiatric abuse and appealed for the release of individual prisoners of conscience confined in mental hospitals against their will.
Sometimes friends and relatives who tried to make contact with victims in hospitals nave faced reprisals. In 1978, for example, Anatoly Pozdnyakov, a member of a recently established independent trade union group, was beaten up by an orderly outside Moscow's psychiatric hospital No. I. after he tried to speak to his colleague Evgeny Nikolaev,
through a window. He was reportedly warned that if he complained about the beating he would "end up here with us." In autumn 1980 the wife of Arkady Stapanchuk, a Ukrainian worker confined after he sought asylum in the British embassy in Moscow, was herself forcibly confined for 21 days when she attempted to visit her husband in the hospital.
The Soviet Response
to Allegations of Psychiatric Abuse
Since it met in 1977 the WPA has e mhtee to Review the Abuse of Psychiatry for Political Reasons, whose brief is to monitor individual cases. Over the past five years this committee has submitted to the AllUnion Society of Neurologists and Psychiatrists of the USSR more than 20 documented requests for information on 11 individual cases. The Ail-Union Society has refused to recognized the authority of this committee, but in early 1982 it promised replies to the Executive Committee of the WPA on six of the cases raised. By January 1983 only two a sent. One concerned the Ukrainian Uniate . Iosif Terdya, who was released after over 8 years' confinement as a prisoner of conscience in November 1981. Terelya, who is now 40 years old, was first forcibly confined to a special psychiatric hospital under the criminal procedure in 1972, after he had been arrested on a charge of "anti-Soviet agitation and propaganda." He was released in 1976, but recon fined in April 1977
Additional Cases of the Political
1 Easton Street
GEDERTS MELNGAILIS (32) is a Lutheran from the Latvian republic.
Following his arrest Mr Melngailis was put In an ordinary psychiatric
According to official Soviet procedures an individual may only be
Latvia, and likewise its Baltic neighbours Estonia and Lithuania, were part of the Tsarist empire, but became independent after the revolutions of 1917 in Russia. Its independence lasted only until 1940. In 1939 the Soviet Government and Nazi Germany signed a Non-Aggression Pact (sometimes called the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact) under the terms of which the Baltic Republics, including Latvia, passed into the Soviet sphere of influence. In 1940 Soviet forces occupied all three Baltic republics and they were soon annexed to the USSR. German forces subsequently invaded and occupied the Baltic republics until they were driven out by Soviet forces in 1944 and 1945. Latvia, Estonia and Lithuania remained annexed to the USSR with the status of Union Republics.
During the I970's and early 1980's the Baltic republics have been the scene of conspicuous dissent from Soviet government policies. Most consistent dissent has been expressed in the Lithuanian republics, where in the last decade there has been a proliferation of unofficial journals advocar ing the preservation of Lithuanian national culture, and opposing the Soviet Government's restrictions on the activities of the Lithuanian Roman Catholic Church. In 1979 - the Fortieth anniversary of the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact - 45 Baits, among them 4 Latvians, drew up an unofficial "Memorandum" in which they called upon the Secretary General of the United Nations to declare the terms of the pact null and void, and to secure the return of independence to the Baltic republics. 9 of the signatories to this Memorandum have subsequently been arrested and sentenced to terms of imprisonment or analogous punishment.
In November 1982, it was reported that several Latvians had staged a
Sv/ice January five more Latvians - among them Gederts Melngailis -
Before his arrest Gederts Melngailis lived with his mother and sister in Riga, and worked at the "Ausma" factory, making rubber and plastic equipment. He has a secondary school education and between March 1974 and August 1975 is reported to have enrolled in a theological course offered by the Latvian Evangelical Lutheran Church. Since the age of 16 Gederts Melngailis is reported to have been in conflict with the authorities for expressing nationalist sentiments. In 1967 he was sent for two weeks' psychiatric examination after he had drawn the colours of the Latvian national flag on an envelope addressed to a cousin, and had written "Long Live Free Latvia" in another letter addressed to the same person. The psychiatrists who examined Mr Melngailis apparently found no grounds for prolonging his confinement.
During the 1970's Gederts Melngailis reportedly came into contact with former political prisoners after their release from imprisonment. These included Lydia Doronina, who was Imprisoned between 1970 and 1972 for having circulated unofficially a Latvian translation of Aleksander Solzhenitsyn's article "This is How We Live". Ms Doronina had previously served a ten-year term of imprisonment in the 1950's for her involvement with Latvian partisans, who resisted the unification of Latvia with the Soviet Union between 1945-48. During the 1970's she Is known to have given material help to former political prisoners on their release (rom imprisonment. During this time Gederts Melngailis also came into contact with Gunnars Rode, a Latvian sentenced in 1962 to fifteen years' imprisonment on a charge' of "treason" for forming an unoffical group which advocated an independent federation of the Baltic states. Rode emigrated from the USSR in 1978.
According to his mother, Gederts Melngaills was summoned for repeated questioning by KGB officials during the 1970's and subjected to harassment ment by colleagues at work and by neighbours. In January 1981 and again In March 1982 he submitted.unsuccessful applications to emigrate from the Soviet Union. In December 1981 he was detained by the KGB and threatened with psychiatric confinement whilst attempting to visit a correspondent of the British newspaper The Financial Times, in Moscow.
Valery TyurIchev Is confined against his will to Smolensk special psychiatric hospital. His confinement came in 1981 after he had written an article criticizing the Soviet Union's economic policy and applied for permission to emigrate. According to official Soviet procedures individuals may be confined to psychiatric hospitals against their will only if they are mentally ill and represent an "evident danger" to themselves or to others. There is no evidence to show that Valery TyurIchev represented such a danger at the time of his arrest or previously. The .evidence clearly Indicates that he Is confined for peacefully seeking to exercise his human rights. Amnesty International therefore regards him as a prisoner of conscience.
For further information on official Soviet procedures for confining people to psychiatric hospitals against their will, please see attached Amnesty International briefing paper "Political Abuse of Psychiatry in the «JSSR" (EUR 46/01/83, February 1983).
Information on the case of Valery TyurIchev has come to light only in recent months, since his father gave an unofficial press conference in Moscow in March 1983. At this press conference Vasily Tyurichev handed out a statement appealing to the World Psychiatric Association and the World Health Organisation to help in obtaining his son's release.
Valery Tyurichev, aged 36 years, was formerly the director of a shop in the Ukrainian city of Dnepropetrovsk. He is reported to have been dismissed from the Communist Party of the Soviet Union in 1978. In 1979 he wrote an article which criticized aspects of socialist economics. This was confiscated from him when he was briefly detained in Moscow in April 1980. Tyurichev is then reported to have sent an expanded version of his manuscript to the Marx-Engels-Lenin Institute in Moscow.
After April 1980 Valery Tyurichev and his family were reportedly questioned on several occasions by police officials. The family then renounced its Soviet citizenship and applied for permission to emigrate. Their application was turned down. In the summer of 1980, while the Olympic Games were being staged in Moscow, Valery Tyurichev was one of a number of Soviet citizens of known non-conformist views who were put in psychiatric hospitals under the civil procedure for the duration of the Games. Valery TyurIchev was diagnosed to be "mentally healthy" and was discharged.
After he was released, Tyurichev and his wife lost their jobs. Their attempts to be reinstated were not successful. In November 1980 they travelled to Moscow with their family and demonstrated in Red Square, carrying placards bearing the slogan "Helsinki-Belgrade-Madrid - Nil!" They were Immediately arrested and flown back to Dnepropetrovsk after two days' detent ion. i