STATEMENT of human rights organizations on applying punitive psychiatry against sightless Crimean Oleksandr Sizikov

17 / 02 / 2021

On October, 14th, 2020, the occupant “Kyiv district court” of Simferopol ruled out for the representative of Bakhchysarai group of the “case against Crimean Muslims” Oleksandr Sizikov to be placed in Sevastopol municipal psychiatric clinic for stationary examination (i.e. determining his competency for trial and criminal responsibility) lasting one month. The decision was taken following an ambulatory psychiatric  examination that Oleksandr Sizikov agreed to undergo.

Oleksandr Sizikov is a person with Group 1 disability, he completely lost his eyesight in 2009. Being a devout Muslim, he wholeheartedly condemned persecution of Muslimsand of Crimean Tatars. On two occasions, he went out for single person demonstrations in support of political prisoner Edem Smailov, the leader of religious community “Topchik” and Sizikov’s caretaker prior to arrest.

The decision of the occupant court prompts special concern because of lack of information on compatibility of psychiatric clinic detainment conditions with needs of a blind person. Absence of proper conditions and personal assistance may cause serious violations of Sizikov’s rights, in particular of the right to have his honor respected and his dignity recognized, the right not to be treated in inhumane and degrading manner, the right to have his privacy respected. The occupant court rejected Sizikov’s lawyer’s request to allocate him for examination to Simferopol, not Sevastopol, so that his defense could be seeing him. 

We remind that on July, 7th, 2020, representatives of Russia’s Federal Security Service arrested Sizikov in the village of Sevastianivka, Bakhchysarai district of Crimea. According to the announced accusation in line with Pt. 1 Art. 205.5 of Criminal Code of Russian Federation, the blind Crimean organized a terrorist cell. After the initial detention Sizikov was sent to home arrest: such preventive measure, unrelated to detainment, was achieved by Sizikov’s defense because his health condition did not allow him to remain in detention center.

Because of the recent decision of the occupant court to send Sizikov to psychiatric clinic for examination lasting one month, his defense is worried that in this way there is an attempt to declare Sizikov incompetent to stand trial and to lock him up for detention in a mental institution for long years.

This is not the first incident of forced placement of political prisoners in mental institutions in Crimea. The occupant authorities use it as an instrument of pressure on these individuals. This practice is regularly in place against Crimean Muslims – representatives of the so called “Hisb ut-Tahrir cases” since 2016.  

Such decision of the occupant court provides ground violation of international law principles of human rights protection, compulsory for Russian Federation, in particular of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (Art. 7, Art. 9), the Convention on Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms (Art. 3, Art. 5, Art.8),  the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (Art. 16). The UN General Assembly has on multiple occasions condemned Russia’s practice of placing Crimean political prisoners in mental institutions (please see UN General Assembly resolutions #74/168, #73/263, #72/190).

We strongly condemn the baseless forced placement of Muslims and Crimean Tatar activists into psychiatric institutions in the occupied Crimea and demand from the government of Russian Federation to:

  •       Immediately cancel the baseless decision of the occupant court to send Oleksandr Sizikov to forced stationary psychiatric examination; 
  •       stop the practice of forced placing of Crimean Muslims and other political prisoners in mental institutions for the sake of applying moral pressure on them as well as on their families;
  •       to discontinue politically-motivated criminal persecution of Crimean Tatars and Ukrainians in occupied Crimea. 

We call on international organizations and governments of democratic countries to: 

  •       condemn the actions of Russian Federation in the direction of utilizing punitive psychiatry as a method of fighting with real or imaginary critics of occupant regime in Crimea; 
  •       continue applying pressure on Russian government so that it discontinues the criminal persecution and mental institution placement of Crimean Muslims and activists; 
  •       strengthen sectoral sanctions against Russian Federation for the systematic and gross violations of human rights in the occupied Crimea; 
  •       impose personal sanctions against representatives of Russian occupant authorities, responsible for making baseless decisions to place political prisoners to mental institutions; 
  •       facilitate monitoring of trials of Ukrainian citizens in Russian courts and in occupant administration-controlled Crimean “courts”;
  •       demand the release of all political prisoners-citizens of Ukraine, detained in prisons and detainment centers in Russian Federation or on the territory of occupied Crimea;
  •       assist in enabling the functioning of the independent monitoring missions under the auspices of UN, OSCE, Council of Europe that hold mandate to monitor situation with human rights in Crimea, including conditions of detainment of political prisoners in detainment centers, prisons and mental instituions. The work of the monitoring mission has to be conducted with a permit from Ukrainian government and in consultations with Ukrainian and international nongovernmental organizations;

We address the President of Ukraine, Parliament of Ukraine, Ministry for Reintegration of Temporarily Occupied Territories of Ukraine, Prosecutor’s Office of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and Sevastopol City with a demand to:

  •       enable effective investigation of the placement of Oleksandr Sizikov into a psychiatric clinic;
  •       prepare and implement the necessary complex legislation aimed at providing state protection and assistance to persons who are illegally detained and are victims of political persecution by occupant administration of Crimea and by Russian Federation;

Human Rights Center ZMINA

Union of Relatives of Kremlin’s Political Prisoners

NGO of persons with disability “Fight For Right”

NGO “CrimeaSOS”

Center for Civil Liberties

Charity Organization ” Pink Ribbon of Ukraine “

NGO “Social synergy”

NGO “Family”

Human Rights Organization “Human Rights”

Crimean Human Rights Group

NGO “Accesible.UA”

NGO “Group of active rehabilitation”

NGO “Center of Sustainable Development Initiatives”

Ukrainian Helsinki Human Rights Union



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