Amendments to the law that have been approved by the key State Duma committee, will exclude the possibility for regional independent organizations to protect the rights of individuals with mental illnesses. This information was reported by human rights activist Nyuta Federmesser, who attended the committee's meeting on July 18.
The State Duma Committee on Health Protection has supported the removal of Article 38 from the law "On Psychiatric Care and Guarantees of Citizens' Rights in its Provision." This article allows organizations independent from medical authorities to monitor and protect the rights of individuals with mental disorders and conduct inspections of boarding schools and psychiatric hospitals. According to Nyuta Federmesser, there are currently two such organizations in Russia, located in Nizhny Novgorod and Moscow. Potentially, more organizations of this type could be formed in other regions.
The authorities, responding to the critics of this decision, insist that the law still includes a provision for public control over psychiatric healthcare institutions. However, according to Federmesser, control and protection are distinct concepts. The human rights activist believes that these amendments would grant psycho-neurological boarding schools in the country the authority to exercise “hegemony, engage in violence, and dehumanize individuals.”
During the meeting, Nyuta Federmesser expressed her disappointment, stating, "You and I all, through your efforts, live in a country where laws are written and not observed, where laws are voted for, insane absolutely, because you think that you and your families will not be affected by them. Shame on this Duma! Terribly ashamed!" She then left the meeting.
The following day, the human rights activist sent an appeal to Vladimir Putin, urging him not to validate the amendments. The appeal was signed by 42,000 people and supported by 74 organizations.
Currently, a service dedicated to protecting the rights of individuals under the care of the psychiatric institution works In Nizhny Novgorod. This organization operates independently from medical officials and addresses violations of the rights of persons with mental disorders, conducts inspections of boarding schools and psychiatric hospitals, and provides training for specialists in effective communication with persons in their care. According to Federmesser, in 2022 alone, this service helped 3,894 patients with mental disorders in Nizhny Novgorod.