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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
06MOSCOW11652 2006-10-18 10:04 2011-08-30 01:44 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Moscow

DE RUEHMO #1652/01 2911004
R 181004Z OCT 06

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 MOSCOW 011652 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 10/17/2016 
Classified By: Ambassador William J. Burns.  Reasons:  1.4 (b,d). 
1. (C) Anecdotal evidence suggests that psychiatry is 
increasingly being used as a tool, especially in more 
"sophisticated" urban areas like Moscow, in the resolution of 
family squabbles or business disputes.  The interpretation of 
a 2001 law on legal expertise activities allegedly has been 
used by government psychiatric institutes to ensure their 
monopoly in the provision of expert testimony in court cases. 
 Those outside the government allege that psychiatric experts 
from organizations like Moscow's Serbskiy Institute for 
Social and Forensic Psychiatry and Alekseyeva Hospital have, 
increasingly, used that monopoly to advance the financial 
interests of well-paying clients.  Much more rarely, 
psychiatry has been used to punish those out of step with the 
powers-that-be.  End summary. 
Who is an Expert Witness? 
2. (U) Poloff met October 16 with the Director of the Russian 
Research Center on Human Rights (RRCHR) Lyubov Vinogradova 
following a September 30 Washington Post article (ref b) 
alleging that abuse of psychiatry for political ends is 
increasing. The RRCHR was created in 1989 and has about 600 
dues-paying members in 52 Russian Federation regions.  It was 
recently re-registered as an NGO by the Federal Registration 
Service.  The RRCHR is a member in good standing of the 
International Psychiatric Association.  In years past, the 
RRCHR received grants from the Soros Foundation, the European 
Union, the Swiss government, and Eurasia.  It is currently 
the recipient of money from the Embassy's "Small Grants" 
3. (C) Vinogradova described the use of psychiatry against 
those dissatisfied with the authorities as not widespread. 
"There are a handful of cases," she said.  More common, and 
more worrisome in Vinogradova's view, is the use of 
psychiatry in business or family disputes to seize property 
or money.  Catalyzing the ability to use psychiatry as a tool 
in property disputes, according to Vinogradova, was the 
GOR's, and the courts', interpretation of the 2001 law on 
"Legal Expertise Activities in the Russian Federation." 
Article 41 of the law, which concerns legal expertise 
provided by non-government legal experts, seems to say that 
expertise can be provided by "persons having special 
knowledge in the fields of science, technology, art or 
crafts, who are not government legal experts." 
Paradoxically, according to Vinogradova, that article has 
been interpreted to exclude all but government experts from 
testifying in court. 
4. (C) Until 2001, private sector psychiatrists were able to 
testify in court on behalf of clients.  Immediately after the 
passage of the law, the courts began to hold that only 
governmental experts could testify.  The RRCHR and other 
organizations appealed their exclusion as expert witnesses to 
Moscow's Taganskiy Court in 2001, but their appeal was 
rejected.  Informal approaches have been made by Vinogradova 
and others to the Duma, but with no success.  According to 
Vinogradova, the 2001 law was drafted by the Moscow Serbskiy 
Institute for Social and Forensic Psychiatry (Serbskiy). 
Serbskiy crafted the law to establish the profession of 
"legal expert-psychiatrist," and determined that only those 
who had worked as psychiatrists for at least three years in a 
state institution could become "legal expert-psychiatrists." 
Monopoly Fosters Abuse 
5. (C) The monopoly by government consultants on the expert 
witness profession acquired as a result has fostered abuse, 
Vinogradova said.  She cited as an example the case of a 
91-year old Moscow man whose caretaker used his weakened 
condition to win possession of his apartment.  The man's 
relatives are contesting the decision, but government expert 
witnesses have insisted that the man was mentally competent 
at the time of his decision.  Vinogradova believes it likely 
that the expert witnesses have been bribed.  The prevalence 
of bribe-taking, Vinogradova said, can be deduced by the 
number of cases that come across her desk whose court 
MOSCOW 00011652  002 OF 003 
verdicts "do not proceed logically from the evidence."  The 
exclusion of testimony by non-governmental expert psychiatric 
witnesses leaves plaintiffs desiring a second opinion with 
nowhere to turn. 
6. (C) In addition to the advent of the 2001 law, the removal 
of the Ministry of Health's Chief Psychiatrist Boris 
Kozelovtsev, and his replacement by Serbskiy Director Tatyana 
Dmitreyeva has further eroded standards in Russian 
psychiatry.  Dmitreyeva, who holds the title "Chief 
Expert-Psychiatrist," was
Minister of Health from 1996 - 
1998.  Vinogradova described Dmitreyeva as "deft" in her 
management of Russia's expert witness industry.  Under 
pressure from advocates for psychiatry, Dmitreyeva has 
recently created a "public council" on psychiatry, as 
required by law.  Instead of allowing independent 
psychiatrists to serve on the council, Dmitreyeva has invited 
the relatives of psychiatric patients.  Vinogradova said that 
the relatives are easily manipulated and become in fact GOR 
"rubber stamps." 
Human Rights Ombudsman Resists 
Government Psychiatry Industry 
7. (C) An ally in the efforts of non-governmental 
psychiatrists to counter the GOR's monopoly on psychiatric 
legal expertise has been the office of human rights Ombudsman 
Vladimir Lukin.  Among Lukin's undertakings: 
-- he is backing efforts of the RRCHR to have independent 
psychiatrists included on the public council; 
-- he is working to create a "Service for the Defense of 
Patients," as required by law.  According to Vinogradova, 
President Putin has given his assent to the creation of such 
a body; 
-- he has sent letters backing the appeals of several court 
cases whose verdicts did not seem to be supported by the 
8. (C) Vinogradova thought it impossible, however, that Lukin 
would mount a more high-profile assault against corruption in 
psychiatry.  "He is too careful a bureaucrat for that," she 
Abuse is Where the Money Is 
9. (C) Vinogradova believed that much of the corruption was 
centered in Moscow, where "there is more money to be made" 
and people are more sophisticated.  In addition to the 
Serbskiy, Moscow's Hospital Number 1, or "Alekseyeva" 
Hospital, is a key player in the diagnosis-for-sale industry. 
 Psychiatry in the provinces is handicapped by the lack of 
trained personnel, which leads to flawed diagnoses and 
treatment regimes.  Vinogradova singled out Arkhangelsk, 
Naberezhnye Chelny, Yekaterinburg, and Voronezh psychiatric 
hospitals as well administered.  St. Petersburg, she said, is 
more uneven, with some of the hospitals very well run; other 
less so.  Among the more corrupt, she said, was the Krasnodar 
psychiatric facility. 
Limits to Exposing Abuse 
10. (C) Vinogradova reported that she has been unsuccessful 
in getting media attention to the problem of corruption in 
psychiatry.  The RRCHR's access to the newspapers Novaya 
Gazeta, Izvestiya, Russkiy Kurer, and Moskovskiy Komsomolets 
has ended, and the only radio station to offer a forum for 
discussion recently has been Radio Svoboda. 
Human Rights Crusader Agrees 
It's Societal, Not Political 
11. (C) Moscow Helsinki Group's Lyudmila Alekseyeva agreed 
that there is significant, and significantly underreported, 
abuse of psychiatry, and agreed with Vinogradova that today's 
misuse of psychiatry is rooted in societal conflicts 
--families fighting over real estate and inheritance, or 
business partners falling out. It is also the case, she 
offered, that the victims are often difficult, hysterical, or 
simply unbalanced. Few organizations have the mix of medical 
MOSCOW 00011652  003 OF 003 
and legal expertise necessary to track the problem, 
Alekseyeva said.  Her organization has seen a growing number 
of walk-ins who allege they have been the victim of such 
12. (C) Alekseyeva was at pains in her conversation with 
Embassy to stress that today's misuse of psychiatry is rooted 
in societal and business conflicts.  Vinogradova agreed, 
saying that the number of cases that might be called 
political could be counted on the fingers of one hand. 
Still, she cautioned, the current interpretation of the 
"Legal Expertise Activities" law has created a framework for 
the use of psychiatry to suppress political dissent, should 
the GOR choose to do so. 


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