Lawyer: refugee from Ukraine was kept in mental hospital for almost a year for refusing to get Russian citizenship. She was successfully brought home

Irina, a refugee from Kharkiv, Ukraine, was kept in a psychiatric hospital for almost a year for refusing to obtain Russian citizenship, lawyer Alexey Pryanishnikov told the We Can Explain Telegram channel. In late February, human rights activists managed to get her back to her homeland.

According to Pryanishnikov, Irina was taken from Kharkiv to Belgorod by bus last May and placed in a temporary detention centre. According to the lawyer, the medical files indicate that she came to Belgorod to visit relatives. “However, she herself says she never had any relatives there,” Pryanishnikov said.

She was then sent to the Belgorod psychiatric hospital, where she stayed until 10 August. According to the lawyer, it came as a punishment for refusing to report information about herself. “Of course, the refusal to report information about herself is not grounds for placement in a mental hospital.”

“But, unfortunately, this is not the first such case in my practice," Pryanishnikov said. 

Then, according to the lawyer, she was moved to a mental hospital in Engels, Saratov region, where she was given haloperidol. “This is a neuroleptic used in schizophrenia treatments since Soviet times. It is considered a rather harmful drug with a lot of side effects across the civilised world,” he said.

As Pryanishnikov clarified to Novaya Gazeta Europe, Irina was formally diagnosed. The lawyer quoted the medical report, which, he said, stated that the refugee “was in a temporary detention facility in the Belgorod region, where she behaved inadequately: did not report any information about herself, uttered absurdities.”

“Psychiatric diagnoses are made on the basis of a subjective picture that the psychiatrist sees or wants to see," he added.

Irina had no Ukrainian documents, which complicated the situation, Pryanishnikov noted. According to him, the refugee was blackmailed to get Russian citizenship to be released from the mental institution. There may have been propaganda (Ukrainians “choosing” Russia over Ukraine) and self-serving motives in this decision, the lawyer reasoned.

Irina’s son searched for her for five months and found her in a hospital in Engels last September. However, he himself could not leave Ukraine because of martial law.

On 21 February, Pryanishnikov managed to get a visit with Irina in the mental hospital. “The doctors were not very happy about the unannounced visit, for some reason they consulted with the migration department of the [Russian] Interior Ministry, but by noon they had given up and let Irina go, removing their previous demands that she apply for Russian citizenship," the lawyer claimed. By the evening of 23 February, Irina had been transported to Kharkiv where she met with her son, the lawyer concluded.

Earlier, Novaya Gazeta Europe shared the story of Ivan Gonchar, a resident of Mariupol who fled the war. He was detained in early April while crossing the Russian-Ukrainian border and has not been in touch since. It later turned out that he had been detained “for opposing the special military operation” but his procedural status was not clear. Human rights activists discovered at the end of February that Gonchar was most likely held in a prison in the Rostov region. However, his lawyer was not allowed to visit him there.

Editor in chief — Kirill Martynov. Terms of use. Privacy policy.
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