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Psychiatry's Painful Past Resurfaces in Russian Case; Handling of Chechen Murder Reminds Many of Soviet Political Abuse of Mental Health System
[FINAL Edition]
The Washington Post - Washington, D.C.
Subjects: Civil war; War crimes; Mental competency; Murders & murder attempts; Psychiatry
Author: Glasser, Susan B
Date: Dec 15, 2002
Start Page: A.37
Section: A SECTION

That controversial finding has opened a broad evaluation of the Serbsky Institute's fitness as an independent judge of mental competence. Now, a showdown on the issue is approaching. On Monday, the court is scheduled to announce the findings from [Yuri Budanov]'s latest psychiatric evaluation -- ordered after the public furor caused by his temporary insanity diagnosis. The hearing has been repeatedly delayed, most recently because of a "technical" flaw discovered last month in the paperwork submitted by the Serbsky Institute, which routinely conducts more than 2,500 court-ordered evaluations each year.

When the military court first ordered Serbsky to test Budanov, the panel conducting the inquiry was led by Tamara Pechernikova, the doctor who condemned poet Natalya Gorbanevskaya for protesting the 1968 Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia. When that evaluation of Budanov was criticized, the court next appointed a commission that included Georgi Morozov, the former Serbsky director who had sat on many of the committees that declared prominent dissidents insane in the 1970s and 1980s.

Today, Serbsky doctors are still validating the insanity of enemies of the state. This summer, former Russian diplomat Platon Obukhov convicted of spying for Britain, was found to be mentally ill by Serbsky specialists. Serbsky also tested captured Chechen warlord Salman Raduyev, finding him sane despite several head wounds rumored to have affected his thinking.

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