Putin Critic Is Confined To Psychiatric Ward

Activists compare ruling to Soviet era jailing of dissidents

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A Russian court has ordered a critic of President Vladimir Putin to be committed to a psychiatric hospital over clashes with police at a protest, reports the BBC.

Mikhail Kosenko, who had undergone outpatient psychiatric treatment before his arrest, was among more than two dozen accused of rioting at a Moscow protest in May last year on the eve of Putin’s inauguration to a new six-year term, reports Reuters.

A Russian judge sentenced Kosenko, who has been in pre-trial detention for 16 months, to indefinite detention and compulsory treatment in a psychiatric institution. “The court has come to the conclusion that at the time the action was committed by Kosenko … he was in a state of insanity,” Judge Ludmila Moskalenko told the court.

Rights activists have likened the ruling to abuses of psychiatry during the Soviet era to jail dissidents, reports Reuters. Activists say video evidence presented in courts show Kosenko standing by while other protesters scuffle with police and argue that reports of violence at the May protest were exaggerated by the police and prosecution, Reuters says.

“Mikhail Kosenko is a prisoner of conscience put behind bars for peacefully exercising his right to protest and should be released immediately,” said John Dalhuisen, Amnesty International’s Europe and Central Asian program director, according to the BBC.