Russian dissident ‘forcibly detained in mental hospital’

A Russian
opposition activist has been forcibly detained in a psychiatric clinic near the
Arctic city of
Murmansk,
the chess champion turned dissident Garry Kasparov said yesterday.

 

 

 

http://news.independent.co.uk/europe/article2816669.ece

 

Russian
dissident ‘forcibly detained in mental hospital’

By
Alastair Gee in
Moscow

Published:
30 July 2007

 

A Russian
opposition activist has been forcibly detained in a psychiatric clinic near the
Arctic city of
Murmansk, the chess champion turned
dissident Garry Kasparov said yesterday.

 

The move
was revenge by the authorities for an article in which the activist, Larisa
Arap, 48, criticised practices in children’s mental health wards, Mr Kasparov
said.

 

Ms Arap,
a member of Mr Kasparov’s United Civil Front, is being medicated against her
will, he claimed.

 

Activists
say this is not the first case of politically motivated, enforced admission to
hospital in President Vladimir Putin’s
Russia, and have condemned the move as
redolent of the Soviet era. Mr Kasparov said: "It could happen if you
attack the interests of the local Gazprom, the local military base, the local
medical mafia. Attacking the interests of local bureaucrats is a terrible risk,
because they don’t stop at anything to get their own back."

 

Authorities
have taken a hard line with opposition groups, and aggressively broke up
marches earlier this year in
Moscow and St Petersburg by The Other Russia, a coalition
that includes Mr Kasparov and the National Bolshevik Party, which was recently
banned.

 

Ms Arap
visited a psychiatrist last week to get a mental health certificate needed to
renew her driving licence, Mr Kasparov said. The doctor asked if she had
written an article that noted the use of electroshock therapy at children’s
mental health institutions, he said. When Ms Arap confirmed she was the author
of the article, she was escorted by police to court, where documents were
produced that said she required medical attention.

 

Yevgeny
Nikolayevich, a doctor at the
Murmansk region psychiatric hospital, would
not confirm whether Ms Arap had been admitted, but said patients were never
admitted on the basis of their political beliefs.

 

"It’s
the first time I’ve ever heard that. In this hospital, that’s a new horizon for
me. In our hospital, we only have psychologically ill people." He added:
"And it also happens that dissidents can be psychologically ill."

 

During
Soviet times, enforced hospitalisation was a chilling tool for quelling
dissent. Opponents of the regime could find themselves in a straitjacket for
the flimsiest of reasons.

 

Although
a 1992 mental health law made involuntary detention more difficult without a
court order, some psychiatrists resented their loss of power. In 2004, doctors
from
Moscow‘s Serbsky Institute lobbied for these amendments to be
overturned.

 

The first
post-Soviet case of a journalist being detained was that of Andrei Novikov, who
wrote articles criticising the Russian military’s actions in
Chechnya, said Oleg Panfilov, director of
the Centre for Journalism in Extreme Situations in
Moscow. Mr Novikov has been in a mental
hospital for a year, and has almost no contact with the outside world.
Russia‘s underfunded psychiatric hospitals
are notorious for their atrocious conditions.

 

In the
current political climate a rollback to Soviet practices isn’t surprising, Mr
Panfilov said. "When there are KGB officers in the government, they
restore what there was during the Soviet era: propaganda, censorship and
repression."

 

 

 

 

 

The former
first lady’s progress back towards the White House, this time on her own
ticket, is one of the most carefully choreographed, cautious and calculated in
modern campaigning. She herself is a study in on-message moderation, with
answers so carefully scripted for focus groups that she has been damned as a
political automaton.

 

 

http://news.independent.co.uk/world/americas/article2816663.ece

 

Hillary
Clinton: The tortured teen

 

The
former first lady’s image as a political automaton has been shaken by the
release of letters written when she was an emotional adolescent

 

By
Stephen Foley

Published:
30 July 2007

 

Hillary
Clinton as a self-doubting misanthrope, prone to bouts of withdrawal and even
depression? This stuff isn’t in the script.

 

The
former first lady’s progress back towards the White House, this time on her own
ticket, is one of the most carefully choreographed, cautious and calculated in
modern campaigning. She herself is a study in on-message moderation, with
answers so carefully scripted for focus groups that she has been damned as a
political automaton.

 

Which is
why the publication over the weekend of details of dozens of intimate letters
written by the young Hillary Rodham to a high school friend has stirred up so
much interest, raising anew the debates over how her political ambitions were
formed and questions from her enemies about whether she is fit to lead the
country.

 

At the
very least, they are a fascinating insight into the emotional turbulence that
once lay below the surface of the young student at Wellesley College,
Massachusetts, who grew into one of the most scrutinised and yet ultimately
inscrutable women at the centre of power in the US.

 

"Sunday
was lethargic from the beginning as I wallowed in a morass of general and
specific dislike and pity for most people but me especially," the
19-year-old Hillary Rodham reported in a letter postmarked
3
October, 1967
.

 

And in
another missive that year, she had pondered her own developing personality:
"Since Xmas vacation, I’ve gone through three-and-a-half metamorphoses and
am beginning to feel as though there is a smorgasbord of personalities spread
before me. So far, I’ve used alienated academic, involved pseudo-hippie,
educational and social reformer and one-half of withdrawn simplicity.

 

"Can
you be a misanthrope and still love or enjoy some individuals? How about a compassionate
misanthrope?"

 

The
intense and introspective correspondence was with John Peavoy, an equally smart
classmate from
Clinton‘s native Illinois, with whom she had formed a strong,
if not particularly close, intellectual bond before they both headed to
separate east coast universities. Their lives quickly diverged – his on to an
academic path, where he now toils in obscurity as an English professor at
Scripps College, a small women’s school in southern
California. The 30 letters, though, reflect their
common explorations of a new life away from the influences of home, over a
four-year period at the end of the Sixties.

 

"They
are windows into a time and a place and a journey of self-discovery," Mr
Peavoy told The New York Times yesterday. "This was what college students
did before Facebook."

 

The real
surprise about the correspondence is that it reveals an undercurrent of
self-doubt even as the civic-minded Ms Rodham was pursuing a life in student
activism, first in the Republican tradition she inherited from a bullying
father, and soon in the Democratic party.

 

In a
letter written in the winter of her second year, she confesses her own despair,
describing a "February depression". She catalogues a long, paralysed
morning skipping classes, languishing in bed, hating herself. "Random
thinking usually becomes a process of self-analysis with my ego coming out on
the short end," she writes.

 

And at
one point she demands of herself: "Define ‘happiness’ Hillary Rodham,
acknowledged agnostic intellectual liberal, emotional conservative."

 

These are
the passages of the correspondence likely to be seized on by the modern-day
Hillary Clinton’s political enemies. Recent biographies, including one by Carl
Bernstein, have made much of a streak of depression that runs through the
Rodham family, particularly its menfolk.
Clinton‘s uncle made a failed suicide
attempt, and her two brothers are also prone to melancholy. The letters
published over the weekend add to the evidence for what Bernstein described as
Clinton‘s tendency during her college
period to fall into "debilitating, self-doubting funks. During the early
weeks of her freshman semester, she was so deflated that she called home and
confessed failure and an inability to cope".

 

Worse,
Bernstein alleged that it was a trait that has never been fully exorcised. The
book says her "emotional state” was "as fragile as it had ever
been” in late 1994 after her close friend Vince Foster had committed suicide,
her father had died and the rejection of her healthcare proposals had put
Democrats on the road to a crushing mid-term electoral defeat. On the campaign
trail this year, her script on universal healthcare includes a line about how
she bears "the scars on my back" to prove she has learnt a lot about
how not to implement such a policy as president. The scars may be more
psychological than physical, according to Bernstein. He wrote: "’I don’t
know whether she was seeing a doctor or not" – she wasn’t, so far as is
known – "but she was depressed," said David Gergen, who was counsel
to the president. "Deeply depressed. I just felt she went into a downward
spiral." This was a near-universal view in the White House."

 

The
insinuation is that a tendency to depression would be a hindrance if faced with
another major political setback if she returns to the White House, or if there
is some other crisis. In what is certain to be a mud-slinging political contest
if
Clinton wins the Democratic nomination,
these sorts of insinuations will surely bubble to the surface, even if they are
never mentioned by the formal Republican campaign.

 

For now,
though, the
Clinton camp is relaxed about the emergence
of the youthful correspondence, which Mr Peavoy has kept in his vast collection
of documents and memorabilia and recently allowed a New York Times reporter to
copy. It should be treated, her campaign staff say, proportionate to the fact
that it is 40 years old.

 

While she
mentions one encounter with a "
Dartmouth boy" mainly she is
disappointed at the calibre of men among her fellow students, who, she says,
"know a lot about ‘self’ and nothing about ‘man’". It wasn’t until
she was at law school at Yale that she met the charismatic Bill Clinton, who
she married in 1975 at the age of 27.

 

As for
the actions of her fellow female students, when she tells Mr Peavoy that a
junior in her dorm had been caught at her boyfriend’s apartment in
Cambridge in the early hours, she says:
"I don’t condone her actions, but I’ll defend to expulsion her right to do
as she pleases – an improvement on Voltaire."

 

If there
is very little sex, there is precisely no drugs and rock ‘n’ roll. Indeed, she
tells how she spent a "miserable weekend" arguing with a friend who
believed that "acid is the way and what did I have against expanding my
conscience".

 

The
publication of the letters is one more distraction, unbalancing
Clinton‘s efforts to shift the focus of the
campaign on to issues of policy rather than of personal peccadilloes, character
and appearance.

 

For the
past week, much of the attention on her has focused on her cleavage, much to
the fury of her campaign staff. A Washington Post article after last Tuesday’s
Democratic candidates’ debate dedicated itself to her outfit and a neckline
that "sat low on her chest and had a subtle V-shape. The cleavage
registered after only a quick glance… It was startling to see that small
acknowledgment of sexuality and femininity peeking out of the conservative – aesthetically
speaking – environment of Congress."

 

The
article generated hundreds of outraged calls, emails and letters to the Post –
and a rebuke from the
Clinton staffer Ann Lewis: "Frankly,
focusing on women’s bodies instead of their ideas is insulting. It’s insulting
to every woman who has ever tried to be taken seriously in a business
meeting."

 

Nonetheless,
the correspondence with Mr Peavoy does shine a light on the formation of her
political views, and the rejection of the Republicanism of her parents in
Park Ridge, Illinois. In particular, she details the
constant rows with her father, Hugh, the son of Welsh and English immigrants
who ran a small textile business.

 

"God,
I feel so divorced from
Park Ridge, parents, home, the entire
unreality of middle-class
America," she opines in one letter.
"This all sounds so predictable, but it’s true." The Vietnam War was
a significant catalyst, and by the end of college she was volunteering on
Senator Eugene McCarthy’s anti-war presidential campaign in
New Hampshire.

 

She
drifted soon enough, too, from her friendship with Mr Peavoy. The pair have not
met face to face since, bar a high school reunion evening when
Clinton, by then America‘s first lady, was a guest of
honour.

 

They did
correspond one more time, though – only this time it was the machine politician
writing. Mrs Clinton’s political antennae had discerned the existence of the
correspondence, which Mr Peavoy had previously shown to a biographer, and she
was writing to ask if she could have a copy.

 

"For
all I know she’s mad at me for keeping the letters," Mr Peavoy told The
New York Times yesterday, as he highlighted a neat irony in one of the letters.
"Don’t begrudge me my mercenary interest," she wrote, but she was
going to keep his correspondence safe and "make a million" when he
became famous.

 

 

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