Russia to detain activist in psychiatric institution after quashing appeal

Today’s decision by Moscow City Court to uphold the conviction of peaceful protester Mikhail Kosenko is a perversion of justice that will see him detained in a psychiatric institution, potentially indefinitely, to undergo “treatment” he neither needs nor wants, Amnesty International said. 

Mikhail Kosenko was arrested after he took part in a protest in Bolotnaya Square in May 2012 which turned violent. He was charged with taking part in “mass riots” and using violence against police officers – accusations which Amnesty International considers to be politically motivated and which were contradicted by strong evidence not taken into account at trial. 

“In Mikhail Kosenko’s case, the courts are returning to an abhorrent practice that is redolent of the worst of Soviet-era tactics to crush dissent: the use of forced psychiatric treatment as a means to punish critics,” said Sergei Nikitin, Amnesty International’s Moscow Office Director.

“The Court appeared to disregard numerous inconsistences and distortions of facts in the psychiatric experts’ report and police testimonies, as well as to ignore the evidence supporting Mikhail Kosenko’s innocence. 

“Mikhail Kosenko’s only transgression was to peacefully protest and speak his mind. The gross injustice done to this man must be rectified and he must be released immediately and unconditionally.” 

The court denied Mikhail Kosenko’s lawyers’ request for an additional psychiatric evaluation, after they argued that the original one was incomplete and full of inconsistencies. It cited Kosenko’s political beliefs as evidence of his mental illness.