Pyotr Pavlensky, the protest artist who nailed his scrotum to the Red Square, has recently cut part of his ear off in protest of the psychiatric sentencing of political dissidents. The Serbsky State Scientific Center for Social and Forensic Psychiatry in Moscow is notorious for its jailing of the USSR’s political opponents, and Pavlensky’s action sitting atop its walls was meant to call attention to the fact that it is still holding the Russian government’s enemies. According to The Guardian, “in April [of 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.” They also mention that Ukrainian pilot Nadiya Savchenko is being held for psychiatric evaluation after her capture and arrest for her alleged “complicity” in the killing of two Russian war correspondents in Ukraine. Pavlensky accuses the Center of being a tool of the State, one that can quickly shuttle political dissidents through the system with pronouncements of insanity, and imprisoning them in psychiatric hospitals rather than going through lengthy trials. Here is Pavlensky’s (badly translated) statement on his wife’s Facebook page:
From Pyotr Pavlensky “Branch” Institute: Serbsky State Scientific Center for Social and Forensic Psychiatry in Moscow, October 19th, 2014.
A knife separates the earlobe from the body. A concrete wall separates reasonable society from insane patients. Returning to the use of psychiatric treatment for political purposes – a police unit has the power to determine where the line is between reason and madness. 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. This amputated limb will never rejoin its body, it is embalmed for scientific study – but it will eventually decompose. These devils, demons and other vermin are left to die, but their deaths spawn a creature still insatiable in his service to the government. The Institute of Psychiatry defines mental illness – and uses it against society until they have gotten rid of faith in the new demon.
Pavlensky himself is now being held in hospital due to his injuries, but expects to be discharged soon.
Photos: MAXIM ZMEYEV/REUTERS