Saturday, March 04, 2006

Soviet Punitive Psychiatry Reborn

In an article in "Gazeta" on February 14, Nadezhda Kevorkova described how last summer the FSB (heir to the KGB) forced a group of Muslim women to submit to a rigorous psychological test designed to prove that articles by a Muslim cleric were "extremist" and then demanded that they sign a declaration that they had done so voluntarily. Her article is titled "Soviet Punitive Psychiatry Is Being Reborn in Tatarstan - This Time Against Muslims."

To Paul Goble, a retired U.S. government expert on nationalities in the former USSR and now vice dean at Concordia-Audentes University in Tallinn, Estonia, the FSB program recalls "one of the most odious features of Soviet treatment of dissidents a generation ago." Other observers add that in the 1990s, the Serbsky Institute subjected Jehovah's Witnesses and Pentecostals to similar psychological examinations.

Kevorkova's article described that the women were given one second to answer each of 70 questions about the content of articles by a Muslim cleric, and when they suffered stress as a result, the FSB investigators concluded that the articles were "extremist" because reading them produced stress. That is what the FSB, who made use of experts from the Institute of Psychology of the Russian Academy of Sciences in the testing, reported to a court that was trying a person on charges of disseminating Muslim extremist literature after various experts had told the judges that in their opinion, the works in question were not extremist. Kevorkova cited other Muslims as saying that the FSB has induced stress among them by constantly following them and calling them in for questioning. Her article suggested that for the FSB "there is no more dangerous enemy than a believing Muslim."

Goble has tracked down additional details about "other FSB efforts to misuse psychology to gather evidence of supposed extremism" among Muslims in the Middle Volga region. In his blog, he cited "two extensive articles on the website" posted in February. In one of the articles, Goble reported, R. F. Khikmatova told the Muslim news portal that last December she had been summoned by the FSB in Tatarstan and was subjected to a forced psychological examination designed to force her to incriminate herself or her fellow believers.

Volume 6, Number 9
Friday, March 3, 2006


A Weekly Human Rights Newsletter on Antisemitism, Xenophobia, and Religious Persecution in the Former Communist World and Western Europe

(News and Editorial Policy within the sole discretion of the editor)

Published by UCSJ: Union of Councils for Jews in the Former Soviet Union

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