Monday, February 11, 2008


If this is true, it’s one of the nastiest manifestations yet of Vladimir Putin’s ‘managed democracy’:

Mr [Artem] Basirov, 20, a university student, was among a group of pro-democracy activists planning a protest against President Putin's increasingly authoritarian rule ahead of last December's elections. But on the night before the planned demonstration, he was snatched by secret service officers, taken to a state psychiatric hospital and forced to undergo a month of "treatment", during which he was fed mind-numbing drugs.
Mr Basirov's incarceration inside the Soviet-era psycho-neurological clinic… is the latest case in which opponents of Kremlin rule have been hauled off to state-run mental institutions.
Reminiscent of the days of communism, when sectioning on mental health grounds was used to silence Kremlin critics, it is being seen as another tactic used by the government to intimidate the opposition ahead of next month's presidential elections.

Mr Basirov's case follows that of Larissa Arap, 49, a journalist from Murmansk who was detained in a psychiatric hospital for 46 days after she exposed the abuse of children at the very same unit. Another case involved Roman Nikolaichik, 27, from Tver, near Moscow, who is also a supporter of Other Russia.

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