Exposing Punitive Psychiatry and Trial
Koryagin served as chief psychiatrist to the underground Commission to Investigate the Use of Psychiatry for Political Purposes, which was formed in 1977. He and another psychiatrist examined 55 dissidents who had been released or were going to be involuntarily confined. They concluded that there was no medical justification for the confinement of these people, and then campaigned for the release of dissidents held in psychiatric facilities.
Koryagin was arrested in February 1981. In June that year he was sentenced to 7 years of hard labor, to be followed by 5 years of internal exile. The charge was anti-Soviet activities for having corresponded with the British medical journal Lancet, which published an article by Koryagin critical of the Soviet government's use of involuntary psychiatric confinement for political reasons. Koryagin documented the existence of 16 special hospitals for dissidents and 183 political prisoners that were confined in them. The transcripts of his trial, which were published by Amnesty International in 1982, record the following statement he made:My investigation and trial do not constitute an act of justice, but a means of suppressing me for my views. I know that the sentence will be harsh. I do not ask anything of this court. Regardless of the sentence imposed on me, I state that I will never accept the situation which exists in our country, where mentally healthy people are imprisoned in psychiatric hospitals for trying to think independently. I know that long years of physical imprisonment, humiliation, and mockery await me. Fully aware of this, I embark on it in the hope that it will increase the chances for others to live in freedom.
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