Oppositionist Gets a Trip to the Mental Ward

Some habits die hard. The practice of forcing Soviet dissidents into psychiatric hospitals seems to continue in Putin’s Russia. Marina Litvinovich of Garry Kasparov’s United Civil Front told the Associated Press that police have forced Larisa Arap in to psychiatric clinic.

Arap, 48, a member of Kasparov’s group in the northern port city of Murmansk, was bundled into an ambulance by police on July 5, her daughter Taisiya told The Associated Press. She had been visiting a doctor to secure documents attesting to her mental health, as Russian law requires in order to receive a new drivers license, the daughter said.

The activists say that move was “revenge for critical reporting.” Arap was later released when a doctor at the clinic realized that she was the author of an article critical of conditions at a local mental ward.

United Civil Front says that this is the first time police have subjected one of its members to forced hospitalization. But it isn’t the first time the practice has been used against political oppositionists. In May 2006, Kim Murphy of the LA Times did a story on the the continued use of “insanity” against political and social dissidents.