Psych Clinic Releases Russian Activist

Lisa Arap released 

A member of an opposition group led by the former chess champion Garry Kasparov was released Monday from a psychiatric clinic after being held against her will for 46 days, a spokeswoman for the group said.

Larisa Arap, 48, a member of Kasparov’s group in the northern port city of Murmansk, was forcefully hospitalized July 5 in what opposition activists said was revenge for exposing alleged abuse of children in a local psychiatric hospital.

Her case was taken up by human rights defenders, who saw in it echoes of the Soviet-era practice of locking up dissidents in psychiatric hospitals.

Arap was released Monday from a psychiatric hospital in Apatit, a city 180 miles from Murmansk, and was picked up by her husband, said Marina Litvinovich, a spokeswoman for Kasparov’s United Civil Front. Arap was moved to the hospital farther from her home in late July.

Arap’s release came after a commission, sent by human rights ombudsman Vladimir Lukin to look into her case, said it found no reason for her forced hospitalization.

Her family had appealed her detention in court, but the request for her release was denied.

Arap was bundled into an ambulance on July 5 after visiting a doctor to secure documents attesting to her mental health as required by Russian law in order to receive a new driver’s license.

When the doctor realized she was the one who had criticized conditions at the psychiatric hospital in an article published in an opposition newspaper, the doctor called the police, according to her daughter, Taisiya Arap.

Other members of Kasparov’s group, including Kasparov, have been detained by the police, but Litvinovich said Larisa Arap was the first to be held in a psychiatric clinic.

August 20, 2007


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