Return of political abuse of psychiatry in the former USSR

Human Rights in Mental Health FGIP
Publication date: 
19 May 2017

On May 19, 2017, at the Office of the Ombudsman for Human Rights of the Verkhovna Rada in Kyiv, Ukraine, a new report on the resumption of political abuse of psychiatry in the former USSR was presented. The report, published by the international foundation ‘Human Rights in Mental Health-FGIP”, presents all the available data on the resumption of psychiatry as a tool of repression in former Soviet republics in the period 2012-2017. It lists more than thirty new cases, of which almost half in occupied Crimea. The other cases are in Russia, Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan. The report is authored by Viktor Davydov, a former political prisoner and victim of political abuse of psychiatry; Madeline Roache, a British researcher and free-lance journalist, and Robert van Voren, Chief Executive of Human Rights in Mental Health-FGIP.

The authors of the report believe that the world has reached a crossroads and that unless sufficient pressure is exerted on national authorities in the countries concerned, one can expect that in some of the former Soviet republics we will slide back towards a governmental policy of using psychiatry for non-medical purposes. The authors conclude that it is pivotal that serious efforts are made in the field of human rights education and the monitoring of human rights in closed institutions.