Larisa Arap Update

The independent commission of Russian ombudsman Vladimir Lukin reached Larisa Arap at the hospital where she is being held in Apatity, Murmansk Oblast. Three psychiatrists from Moscow examined Ms. Arap and agreed that she was of sound mind and that there was no reason to hold her against her will. Head of Psychiatry Dr. Vladimir Prokudin called for her immediate release, saying that great damage was being done to her by holding her against her will. Yuri Savenko, head of the commission and president of the Independent Psychiatric Association, said that she posed no danger to others and should be at home. He also said he was convinced Ms. Arap is being held because the local doctors were seeking revenge for the article she wrote in our paper earlier this year criticizing their conditions at their clinic in Murmansk.

And yet the court refused to heed the recommendations of the experts and continued to back the hospital and clinic officials. They are still refusing to release her. Larisa Arap, writer and activist for the United Civil Front and the Other Russia opposition groups, has been held against her will since July 5. Last week her daughter Taisiya was fired from her position at a Murmansk bank when she refused to stop giving interviews about her mother’s situation.

This tragedy continues, and it is worth remembering that this is only one story we know about. It is symbolic of the impunity with which the powers that be act in Putin’s Russia. They have total contempt for democratic institutions, which have been revealed as a sham in this case. No doubt there are many other similar stories being played out across the country out of sight.