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Russia Reform Monitor - No. 1488

Moscow and Tbilisi let the recriminations fly;
The return of "punitive psychiatry"

Edited by Jonas Bernstein
August 14, 2007

August 9:

The head of Russia’s Federal Financial Monitoring Service, Viktor Zubkov, has said that more than 120 methods are being used in Russia to launder money earned from criminal activities, reports. Zubkov, who was speaking to journalists in Nizhny Novgorod, said that 60 percent of criminally acquired money is converted into cash, the rest into securities, land, real estate and other property.

With tensions between Moscow and Tbilisi on the rise after a Russian missile reportedly hit Georgian territory without detonating, the Associated Press reports that Russian General Staff Chief Yuri Baluyevsky has rejected Georgian accusations. The Georgian government says radar data proves Russian jets violated its airspace on August 6th and fired a missile aimed at a Georgian radar installation. “I’m convinced that it was a provocation by Georgia... a provocation against the Russian peacekeepers and Russia as a whole,” Baluyevsky said while visiting China. Georgia’s first deputy defense minister, Levan Nikoleishvili, called Baluyevsky’s statement “sheer nonsense.”

August 10:

Russia has accused Georgia of dumping diseased swine corpses in the Kodori River, which runs through Georgia’s Russian-backed breakaway region of Abkhazia to the Black Sea, Agence France-Presse reports. “It is unacceptable to throw corpses of dead animals in the Kodori River... which given its consequences, is equivalent to carrying out biological terrorism,” Russian agricultural watchdog Rosselkhoznadzor said in a statement.

August 12:

President Vladimir Putin has called a new Russian radar station “the first step in a large-scale program ... to be carried out before 2015,” the Financial Times reports. Putin made his comments while touring the Voronezh missile interceptor station, which opened last December and can monitor territory from the North Pole to Africa. “This is what I call the modern development of the armed forces: a lot cheaper and a lot more efficient and dependable,” the Russian president said. He added, however, that plans to double Russia’s annual production of military aircraft by 2025 would require a radical shake-up of domestic aircraft engine manufacturing capacity. “The competitiveness of aircraft engines produced in our country today is, unfortunately, low, extremely low,” Putin said.

August 13:

The Telegraph reports that the case of Larisa Arap, a member of the opposition United Civil Front’s Murmansk chapter forced into a psychiatric hospital in July after writing an expose of abuses in regional psychiatric hospitals, has raised fears that Soviet-style “punitive psychiatry” is returning. “Enraged by the allegations that she had leveled against them, they also knew that, as an open Kremlin critic, the state would do little to help her,” the newspaper writes, referring to doctors at the facility where Arap is incarcerated. “A needle sank into her arm. Over the coming weeks, as the treatment took its effect, Mrs. Arap would become everything the doctors declared her to be: her head lolled to one side, her tongue hung out of her mouth and her face went slack.”

Noting that Russian law was “quietly changed” in 2001 so that people committed to psychiatric hospitals no longer have the right to seek an independent assessment, the Telegraph says it has learned of “dozens of incidents” suggesting Russia’s psychiatric system “is rapidly becoming as unsavory as it was in Soviet times.”

Related Categories: Russia; Democracy & Governance; Military; Caucasus

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