CoE report on situation in psychiatric institutions in Russia

The Council of Europe Committee for the prevention of torture – a report on the situation in Russian mental health institutions




This report followed the delegation for the Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhumane or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CPT)’s visit to Russia last October. The delegation visited several Russian psychiatric hospitals between October 19-29, 2018 – Kazan (Kazan Federal Psychiatric Hospital, which specialises in intensive cases), Volgograd (Volgograd Regional Psychiatric Hospital no.2) and Saratov (The Red Army Kalyamin regional psychiatric hospital). The main aim of the trip was to observe the conditions the patients were living in, and to evaluate how the authorities have implemented the committee’s previous recommendations.


The delegation noted that in the hospitals they visited, especially in Kazan, many patients were afraid to submit a complaint. They did not believe that they could do so safely and confidentially, and said that if they made a complaint ‘they would be punished’. The committee members recommended that a central complaints register be created that would include all complaints submitted by patients, the administration’s response, and what measures were taken. Paragraph 76 of the report says that ‘patients must have access to external and independent bodies that will investigate complaints’. Furthermore, the patients should be provided with brochures containing information about patients’ rights, and the legal option available to them.


Following the visit, the committee published a report and their key findings (these documents are available in English). The report and the response from the Russian authorities were published at the request of the Russian government. The head of the delegation and vice-president of the committee, Mark Kelly, approved of the decision from the Russian authorities to publish the findings. He said ‘transparency about the conclusions and recommendations of the committee testifies to the strength of the government’s resolve to protect the rights of those who are devoid of freedoms, and its willingness to eliminate problems. The committee is waiting eagerly for all other reports about its trip to Russia to be published’.


The Russian authorities’ response:


In their official commentary (available in Russian) on the committee’s report, the Russian authorities noted that ‘the use of treatment methods are consistent with healthcare legislation in the Russian Federation’. In response to the committee’s recommendation that isolation rooms be removed, the Russian authorities stated that according to Part 1 of Art. 30 of Law No. 3185-1, inpatient psychiatric care ‘is provided with the fewest possible restraints’, whilst ensuring the safety of the patient and the surroundings. The Russian authorities also noted that medical staff must respect the rights and legal rights of the patient.


After meeting with the committee, the Russian Ministry of Health requested the delegation visit the National Medical Research Centre for Psychiatry and Necrology, where the Serbsky Institute were preparing guidelines for the use of electroconvulsive therapy. After a discussion with the delegation, they plan to transfer to a hospital for


‘Restricting the rights and freedoms of those who suffer from mental disorders, solely because of their mental illness, is not allowed. Any officials guilty of this will be answerable to the law’. the Russian authorities said.


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