Russia’s national police force, the Investigative Committee, has failed to convince a judge to force a prominent political protest artist to submit to a second psychiatric evaluation after he passed the first one they demanded, reported the Russian legal information agency RAPSI last week. Days later, The Guardian reported that the artist climbed onto the roof of a Russian psychiatric hospital and cut off his earlobe to protest the forced psychiatric treatment of dissidents.
Performance artist Pyotr Pavlensky has become known for “a number of controversial campaigns,” reported RAPSI. “In July 2012, he sewed up his mouth and stood at the Kazan Cathedral with a poster in support of Pussy Riot. In May 2013, Pavlensky lay down on the ground in front of the St. Petersburg Legislative Assembly naked with barbed wire around his body.”
The judge dismissed the Investigative Committee’s most recent application for a psychiatric evaluation because it was essentially the same as the previous application. “Pavlensky has already endured an examination after a protest he staged on Red Square,” reported RAPSI. “The examination indicated that he was mentally stable.”
Pavlensky was later photographed bleeding profusely atop the psychiatric hospital. The Guardian reported that he said in a Facebook post that the act was meant to represent the damage resulting from police “returning to the use of psychiatry for political goals”.
Pavlensky reportedly wrote: “Armed with psychiatric diagnoses, the bureaucrat in a white lab coat cuts off from society those pieces that prevent him from establishing a monolithic dictate of a single, mandatory norm for everyone.”
The hospital over which Pavlensky had sat was “infamous for giving questionable diagnoses to many of the dissidents who were confined to psychiatric wards” during the rein of the Soviets, reported the Guardian. And earlier this year, “a protester in a demonstration in Bolotnaya Square, Mikhail Kosenko, was sentenced to indefinite psychiatric treatment after the Serbsky centre declared him insane, a decision that Amnesty International condemned as a return to that Soviet-era practice.”
Self-mutilating artist Pavlensky avoids psychiatric evaluation for third time (RAPSI, October 17, 2014)
Russian artist cuts off earlobe in protest at use of forced psychiatry on dissidents (The Guardian, October 20, 2014)