Free Mikhail Kosenko (Михаил Косенко), Russian Confined to a Mental Hospital for Paricipating in Anti-Putin Rally
- United Nations, OHCHR, Navi Pillay, Ban ki-Moon, European Parliament, EU, International Court, HRW
MOSCOW, Oct 8 (Reuters) - A Russian court on Tuesday ordered a critic of President Vladimir Putin confined to a psychiatric ward indefinitely over clashes with police at a protest, a ruling likened by rights activists to abuses of psychiatry during the Soviet era to jail dissidents.
Mikhail Kosenko, who had undergone outpatient psychiatric treatment before his arrest, was among more than two dozen accused of rioting at a protest in Moscow on May 6, 2012, the eve of Putin's inauguration to a new six-year term.
They are held up by the opposition as victims of a Kremlin crackdown on dissent. Critics accuse Putin of using the courts to sideline opponents since he rose to power in 2000, citing the imprisonment of former oil tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky and members of punk group Pussy Riot.
A Russian judge sentenced Kosenko, who has been in pre-trial detention for 16 months, to indefinite detention and compulsory treatment in a psychiatric institution.
He was accused of assaulting a police officer - although the officer testified that he did not recognise Kosenko and did not want him punished. Kosenko denies the charges.
"The court has come to the conclusion that at the time the action was committed by Kosenko... he was in a state of insanity," Judge Ludmila Moskalenko told the court.
Protesters demonstrating outside the courthouse chanted "Shame!" They at times drowned out her reading of the ruling. Police detained nine protesters, activists said.
"This is a clear case of a return to punitive psychiatry in Russia," said Alexander Podrabinek, a human-rights activist and Soviet-era dissident who authored a book on the political abuse of psychiatry under the Soviet Union. "This is the first such clear and obvious instance in the post-Soviet period."
Kosenko's family says he takes medication for a psychiatric disorder after a trauma sustained during military service, but was non-violent and has no prior police record.
Locked in the defendant's cage, the moustachioed 38-year-old greeted the verdict in silence.
"The most valued thing in the country is freedom," he wrote in comments published by Novaya Gazeta on Tuesday.
"Demonstrators (on May 6 2012) took to the streets in protest of unfair elections... The authorities are against fair and just elections because then they would be no more."
Human rights activists say video evidence presented in courts shows Kosenko standing by while other protesters scuffle with police. They say reports of violence at the May protest were exaggerated by the police and prosecution.
"The guilty slant (and) the political character of this process is completely obvious," said rights activist Oleg Orlov.
WHEREAS: Mikhail Kosenko (Михаил Косенко) is clearly being punished solely for participating in an anti-Putin rally, and the charges of violent behavior are contradicted even by the testimony of the police officer he allegedly assaulted;
AND WHEREAS: Video footage of the event also appears to vindicate Mr. Kosenko of any charges involving violent assault;
AND WHEREAS: Mikhail Kosenko is therefore a prisoner of conscience whose confinement to a psychiatric facility is unrelated to any legitimate treatment of his pre-existing, mild and NON-VIOLENT psychiatric condition and can only be seen as punitive in nature;
AND WHEREAS: This case constitutes an alarming precedent which could lead to a return of the wide-spread use of punitive psychiatry as it was used against dissidents under the Soviet regime;
THEREFORE: We the undersigned demand that the international community at all levels bring all pressure to bear upon the government of the Russian Federation to abide by its legally binding human rights obligations and release Mikhail Kosenko immediately from imprisonment in this psychiatric institution.
Let there be no return to the perversion of medicine and the human rights horrosr of the psikhushki (психушки), the Russian colloquial name used under the Soviet regime for psychiatric prisons where dissidents were locked up and tortured!
The Free Mikhail Kosenko (Михаил Косенко), Russian Confined to a Mental Hospital for Paricipating in Anti-Putin Rally petition to United Nations, OHCHR, Navi Pillay, Ban ki-Moon, European Parliament, EU, International Court, HRW was written by John S. Burke and is in the category Human Rights at GoPetition.