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18.10.2016 | Halya Coynash

Russian declared dangerously insane for supporting Ukraine & denying he’s a political prisoner

Moroshkin, punitive psychiatry (2).png
   

Alexei Moroshkin; the placard reads: "Psychiatrists, don’t repeat Soviet times"

Chelyabinsk activist Alexei Moroshkin has been declared a danger to society after he refused to reject the Memorial Human Rights Centre’s recognition of him as a political prisoner.  This comes soon after a psychiatrist was taken off his case after stating in court that he should not be in hospital and provides further grounds for assuming that Moroshkin is a victim of punitive psychiatry because of his support for Ukraine.  A Chelyabinsk Court on Oct 12 upheld his forced ‘treatment’ for a further 6 months, and it seems likely that this will be extended beyond that time.

Moroshkin’s mother informed OVDinfo.org on Oct 10 that her son had been unexpectedly transferred to a different psychiatric ward with seriously ill patients.  The conditions there are much worse, and it will be effectively impossible to communicate with him.

The likely reason is chilling.  Back on Sept 15, the Chelyabinsk Regional Court ordered a second psychiatric assessment after the psychiatrist treating Moroshkin stated that he did not require hospital treatment.  This was clearly not the assessment the doctor was supposed to provide, and another one was carried out on Sept 28.

Tatyana Moroshkina says that that later ‘assessment’ essentially constituted criticism of the Memorial Human Rights Centre’s statement declaring her son a political prisoner.  The doctors demanded that Moroshkin reject the Memorial assessment and instead say that he was ill, and needed to be given invalid status.

The fact that Moroshkin refused to do this was deemed, just like in Soviet times, to be a sign of psychiatric illness.  They claimed that it demonstrated a lack of awareness of his own state with this making him a danger to those around him.

As reported here, 36-year-old Moroshkin was convicted on Nov 19, 2015 of so-called ‘public aims to action aimed at violating Russia’s territorial integrity via the Internet’ (Article 280.1 § 2).  The court, however, decided that he was suffering from ‘paranoid schizophrenia’ (‘deranged nonsense on reforms of a religious nature’) and ordered him to be confined in a psychiatric unit.  The family disputed the diagnosis from the outset and pointed out that it was based on false statements about his medical records.

It was telling that another criminal prosecution against a person who is supposedly unfit to serve a criminal sentence is continuing.  Moroshkin is charged with ‘vandalism’ for allegedly painting a bust of Lenin in Chelyabinsk in the colours of the Ukrainian flag.  He denies involvement in this, and his mother asserts that the ‘evidence’ produced is rigged.

On July 11, 2016, the renowned Memorial Human Rights Centre declared Moroshkin a political prisoner and demanded his release. It stated that there was nothing to suggest that Moroshkin represented a danger to society, justifying his forced confinement, and that Moroshkin was being prosecuted for his civic opposition activities and for his criticism of Russia’s hybrid war against Ukraine.

Moroshkin had originally swallowed propaganda and set off on March 2, 2014, to take part in Russia’s aggression against Ukraine.  He was first active in Crimea, then took part in the failed attempt in Kharkiv to carry off seizures of official buildings like in Donbas, then fought in Donbas.  By early May, he had understood how mistaken this had been.  He began speaking out in support of Ukraine and back in Chelyabinsk created the VKontakte social network page ‘For a battling Ukraine! For Free Urals!

It seems likely that Moroshkin’s talk about creating a ‘Urals People’s Republic’ was, like similar civic initiatives in Kuban and Siberia, aimed solely at highlighting Russia’s hypocrisy in financing and manning ‘separatism’ in Eastern Ukraine, and the so-called ‘Donetsk and Luhansk people’s republics’.  He also reposted a Forbes.ru article on a Moscow conference on separatism, and on how Russia sponsors separatist movements everywhere in the world, while imprisoning those it accuses of Russian separatism. 

In texts on VKontakte, Moroshkin wrote about Ural nationalism and about the possibility of the country’s division into regional ‘republics’.  He was also highly critical of ‘Russian dictatorship’.  This was all on the level of theoretical discussion with no suggestion of any forced secession.

VKontakte is under close surveillance by Russia’s FSB and Moroshkin ended up arrested in August 2015, and in November convicted of so-called public calls to violate Russia’s territorial integrity.  

He was held for a while in a remand prison, but then the psychiatric assessment ordered by the court came up with the ‘paranoid schizophrenia’ diagnosis.

The pretext given was Moroshkin’s creation online in 2014 of something called the ‘church of the Chelyabinsk meteorite’.  According to Moroshkin and his family this was simply a satirical project thought up together with journalists from LifeNews. It fizzled out, but has now been used to justify claims that he has delusional plans of a religious nature.

There is a particularly chilling relict from the Soviet days of punitive psychiatry indicating that the psychiatrist was well aware that the diagnosis was unwarranted. Moroshkin had never before been on any psychiatric register, yet the doctor claimed that his supposed ‘paranoid schizophrenia’ was a chronic condition, and that he had, as a teenager, been diagnosed as having ‘sluggish schizophrenia’.  This supposed disorder was often cited as the grounds for incarcerating Soviet dissidents in psychiatric institutions.  The assertion is false, and the mention of his having been taught at home a distortion, since he didn’t go to school because of rheumatism, not any psychological problems.

It has been apparent for some time that Russia is resurrecting the worst traditions of punitive psychiatry.  Since Moroshkin has been diagnosed as dangerously insane for refusing to discredit the assessment by a renowned human rights group that he is a political prisoner, we can assume that the process is complete.

 

 

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