Other Russia Activist Sent to Psychiatric Hospital

An Other Russia activist was committed to a psychiatric hospital before government protests, supporters said Friday -- the latest in a series of incidents suggesting a punitive Soviet-era practice is being revived.

Artyom Basyrov, 20, was detained by two plainclothes officers and ordered held in a hospital in the Marii-El republic on Nov. 23, a day before a planned Dissenters' March, said Alexander Averin, of the banned National Bolshevik Party. The group is part of The Other Russia. Basyrov had run for the local legislature as an Other Russia candidate.

A local psychiatric board agreed with police, who alleged that Basyrov had assaulted a girl, and concluded that he was suffering from some mental illness. Basyrov was finally transferred from an isolation ward and allowed to have visitors Thursday, his supporters said.

Prosecutors in Marii-El could not be reached for comment.

Supporters said Basyrov did not appear to have been mistreated. Another psychiatric board was slated to review Basyrov's case at the end of the month, Klyuzhev said.

Last week, Reporters Without Borders said Andrei Novikov, a reporter for a news service connected to the Chechen separatist government, had been released after nine months in a psychiatric hospital. This summer, Larisa Arap, an Other Russia activist and journalist, spent six weeks in a psychiatric clinic.