A poetry writer from St. Petersburg applied to the Crew Against Torture after being forced into a psychiatric hospital with the involvement of policemen


18 August 2023


Slava Malakhov – a poet from St. Petersburg and the author of the music band “Дореволюцiонный Совѣтчикъ” (aka DorSov) – told the CAT lawyers that he spent 21 days in a psychiatric hospital in the village of Ulyanovka, Leningradskaya Oblast, where he was hospitalized against his will and under pressure coming from local police officers. Mr. Malakhov claims that in the hospital, he was kept tied to a bed for several days and injected with unknown drugs, while being threatened to be tied again if there were any questions. When Vladislav was realeased, he turned to the human rights defenders from the Crew Against Torture in its St. Petersburg branch. Currently, the CAT lawyers conduct a public investigation into the incident.

On 14 July 2023, Vladislav Malakhov, a well-known poet and blogger from St. Petersburg, boarded the evening train “St. Petersburg – Moscow”. Shortly after departure, the man, for personal reasons, decided to get off and asked permission from the conductor, but received a refusal. According to Vladislav, another conductor promised to let him out at the next stop; however, when the train stopped, the man still was not allowed to leave the train.

The train began its progress, I pulled the stopcock located in the vestibule. The conductor asked: ‘Why did you do this?’ I realized that I had done something wrong and retired to my compartment.

Half an hour later, the man was asked to quit the compartment; there were two policemen, to whom the conductor said that Vladislav had rushed at her and caused her “mutilation and moral suffering”. The officers refused to listen to Mr. Malakhov’s reasons and, having rudely demanded his passport, called Vladislav to follow them.

While we were on the train, the officers threatened me with violence, they underlined they would beat me.”

Subsequently, the man was taken to the police station of the city of Tosno (Leningradskaya Oblast), where he had to spend about a day. All this time, as Vladislav recalls, the officers did not pay attention to him and only once allowed him to use the phone. Mr. Malakhov was not fed, and tap water was given out in response to numerous requests – a single bottle for him and his cellmate. Eventually, Vladislav was issued two fines for minor hooliganism (500 and 2,000 rubles).

On the same day, the policemen took Vladislav to the hospital under the pretext of a medical examination for injuries. Upon arrival, the man learned that this was the Ulyanovskaya psychiatric hospital located in the village Ulyanovka. The applicant claims that he was forced to sign documents for hospitalization: the policeman “put his hand on his holster, demonstrating his commitment to use weapons”; that officer also threatened to use physical violence.

I repeated once again that I did not seek aid and there were no reasons for such treatment. I asked for a simple examination and said that I would reject any hospitalization.”

According to Mr. Malakhov, in response to his protest, the medical staff called four men who tied him to the bed by his arms and legs as if on a rack; at the same time, the policeman pressed his knee on Vladislav’s chest, and the man felt severe pain, which he is still experiencing.

At that instant, I felt helpless and understood that they could do anything to me.”

The man spent several days in such a position – the nurses periodically gave him injections, ignoring requests for help and questions about the type of drugs; besides, he had no connection with his relatives. Vladislav indicates that his hands were very swollen, one of the ribs hurt, and his position caused suffering. Later, he was untied and transferred to another ward, where he was forced to take unknown pills. A week later, he met with the head of the unit, Alisa Rakhimkulova, who rudely answered his questions about hospitalization and threatened to tie him to the bed again. Later, that woman said that she had “an order from the higher-ups”, so she could not release Vladislav for some time.

Mr. Malakhov describes that he was assigned some psychological tests twice, which he successfully passed with two different psychologists, while the head of the unit eavesdropped outside the door. During the first test, she demanded to indicate “suicidal tendencies and dementia” in the conclusion, but this demand was refused by the specialist. The next day, another psychologist read about Vladislav on the Internet and accepted the man’s request to inform lawyers or human rights activists about his fate – then Rakhimkulova burst into the office with threats to extend his hospitalization.

During the confinement, Vladislav was visited by his girlfriend three times: she discovered his location, having visited the Tosno police station. Mr. Malakhov told her about the conditions of detention and the attitude of the staff. For instance, in less than a month, he was only allowed to wash himself twice, and the wound on his arm, received as a result of the use of physical force during hospitalization, was treated only after an abscess formed on it, although on the very first day, he asked the nurses to deal with that wound.

On 7 August, after a conversation with the head of the hospital, Mr. Malakhov was released. In the medical history, the doctors indicated that he “arrived, while actively hallucinating in an agitated state, therefore his involuntary hospitalization was endorsed”. After his release, Vladislav returned to the police station for the phone and personal belongings confiscated during the arrest – everything was returned to him, except for the JBL headphones, and the police officers could not say anything about their whereabouts.

On the same day, Vladislav contacted the human rights defenders of the Crew Against Torture in St. Petersburg.

The story of Vladislav describes unlawful hospitalization in a psychiatric hospital and excess of authority. We will forward the relevant inquiries to all the facilities where the man was held in order to establish the circumstances of the incident. We will also submit the crime reports to the competent authorities in the near future. In addition, Vladislav is to undergo medical and psychiatric examination to determine if there are some possible negative health consequences of his confinement.

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