The President puts a ban on declaring individuals mentally ill in their absence

Source: (info), 08/04/11

· Patients' Rights · Social Rights · Human Rights Defenders · Protest Campaigns

President Dmitry Medvedev has introduced a ban on declaring individuals of unsound mind in their absence. The text of the respective law was published on 6 April 2011 (!) on the President’s website. Now the courts can no longer declare a person of unsound mind solely on the basis of a forensic psychiatric assessment. In order to reach a decision about an individual’s mental competence, the court must provide this person with the opportunity to speak about the matter personally or through their representatives.

The law also provides that individuals of unsound mind should receive psychiatric treatment only at the request or with the consent of their legal representatives. And this only in those cases where the individuals are themselves incapable of giving their consent to receiving psychiatric treatment.

An individual declared of unsound mind by a court can appeal against the decision. If he or she is unable to be present in court, the hearing must be held at the place where he or she is, even in a psychiatric hospital.

As reported by, attempts to put opposition or civil society activists in psychiatric hospitals for their views are not uncommon.

On 29 March the leader of Left Front in Rostov, Vladislav Ryazantsev, was put in a psychiatric hospital. According to his relatives, the activist was detained in order to prevent him from participating in a rally under the Strategy-31 campaign.

In 2006 entrepreneur Mikhail Alianykh alleged that the Novy Oskol Town Court was corrupt. He cited examples of collusion between the judge and the police who were attempting to close down his construction company. Subsequently, a criminal case was initiated against Mikhail Alianykh for slander, and this resulted in a court judgment in his absence that Mikhail Alianykh be sent for psychiatric evaluation.

Mikhail Alianykh was not summoned to the court hearing and he did not receive a copy of the court’s decision. The entrepreneur was stopped in the street and taken to the hospital without any documentation being shown to him. The evaluation and compulsory treatment continued for nearly two years until a higher court reversed the judgment regarding his placement in a hospital.