PSYCHIATRIC HOSPITALS: ATHEISM’S NEW WEAPON AGAINST THE CHURCH
Recent news articles concerning abuses in Soviet psychiatry
are evidence of the growing doubts Western authorities have about the diagnoses and methodology of the Soviet psychiatric system. It is more and more widely recognized that psychiatry is used by the state as an instrument of torture and punishment. Many prisoners consider incarceration in a mental hospital harsher punishment than serving a set term in concentration camp. They are often diagnosed as “sluggish
schizophrenics” or accused of some other mental aberration
and committed indefinitely.
Several Evangelical Christian Baptists, declared mentally
unstable at court hearings they were not even allowed to attend, are now imprisoned in mental institutions. Anatoly Runov, 45, Anna Chertkova, 56, and Vladimir Khailo, 51, are
undergoing forced treatment designed to make them deny
their faith in God.
Anatoly Runov was rearrested and imprisoned in a
psychiatric hospital in Gorky (Viazovka) on February 24,1983,
less than one year after his release from previous internment.
Last year he wrote these words from the hospital where he is again confined:
“My health is broken, but spiritually I’m alert. I thank God for everything. I’ve been meeting many people bound by terrible sin and with the Lord’s help, I tell them about God’s salvation. My wife and I are grateful to all of you who are helping to supply our needs…”
Anna Chertkova was confined to the Tashkent Special Psychiatric Isolation Ward following her arrest in 1973. Ten years have passed and she is still there! What is the response of this Christian woman to the injustice and abuse she suffers at the hands of those who want to destroy her faith? In a recent letter to her mother, Anna writes:
“I have entrusted everything into the faithful, pierced hands of our loving Redeemer. I am fully confident in our crucified and risen Lord. I thank Him for everything and submit to Him. , may His will, not mine, be done.”
In November 1980, Vladimir Khailo, with a freshly shaved lead and wearing a black prison uniform, entered a psychiatricl hospital room crowded with 27 other men.
The barred and wood-covered windows only allow a view of the next building’s roof. The “patients” are forced to exist on
poor food and must climb over each other to reach their beds. Sleeping pills administered day and night help maintain tight control and more medication is forced on those who do not sleep. Khailo’s wife, Maria, writes, “One month after he was taken there, I was permitted to see him but I didn’t recognize him: his skin had turned black from heavy medication and he was very weak.” Medications (such as haloperidol, aminazin, stelazine, and triftazin) administered to Khailo in the name of psychiatry have caused body swelling, joint pains, fainting, high blood pressure, impaired vision, heart pain and failure, and loss of the control of his hands.
A commission sent in December 1981 to investigate Khailo’s arrest asked questions only about his religious activities and convictions. The commission threatened his wife and daughter with arrest and confinement with him in the psychiatric hospital if they continue writing to him and complaining to the authorities. Maria is allowed to visit for one hour a day except Saturdays, Sundays, and holidays, but she and her husband are not even allowed to shake hands. Once when Maria began telling Khailo news of Christians who had been arrested and tried, a man in a white coat, always present to monitor conversations, told them to stop talking politics.
In a recent letter, Maria Khailo asks Christians around the world to do something for her husband:
“Dear friends, brothers and sisters! The doctors have tried to force my husband to give up his faith, but he remains steadfast and says: ‘I have committed my way to the Lord. May His will be done. He alone knows what He has planned for me.’
My husband is spiritually alert, praise the Lord. I see him occasionally. He always asks me to greet his friends. He is receiving letters and greeting cards and asks that you continue writing and praying for him. I especially want to thank the young people who write. We are so grateful to our friends here and in other countries for the letters, cards and parcels.
I appeal to the church around the world: please pray for my husband, Vladimir, and for our whole family. Petition our government for the release of my husband.”
Write to Soviet government officials at the addresses below. Be brief and polite. State your concern for the prisoners and what you would like to see done. Be specific, naming the prisoners you read about here, and mentioning the 180 who have been arrested and imprisoned for religious activities. Request that an international commission of psychiatrists be allowed to travel to the Soviet Union and visit the Christians who have been committed to psychiatric hospitals.
Mr. Yuri Andropov, The Kremlin, Moscow, Soviet Union. 70
Mr. Anatoly Dobrynin, Embassy of the U.S.S.R., 1125 16th Street N.W., Washington, D.C. 20036.
Dr. Aleksandr N. Yakovlev, Embassy of the U.S.S.R., 285 Charlotte Street, Ottawa, Ont., Canada K1N 8L5.
The testimonies of Christian prisoners speak of the power and love of Jesus. Following are excerpts of letters from Baptist ministers Rumachik and Shubinin:
I rejoice in the sunshine and light of day, and especially that Christ revealed Himself to me as the Sun of Truth. He has become my daily requirement. He has become my very life and your life, and the life of so many saved people that they will be difficult to number on that day when He returns in glory! I am captivated by God’s kindness, manifest to us in Jesus Christ. That kindness is capturing my heart right now! I have been meditating on God’s love. I want my heart like a sponge to soak up this holy, divine, living moisture, without which a man becomes a spiritual corpse. Without love and kindness there is no life, just vegetation. May God help our hearts to be like His heart and our lives like His life, as we sing:
“That Thou mightest be seen everywhere, that Thou mightest shine all around.” -Pyotr Rumachik, currently serving five years strict regime concentration camp.
“Having therefore obtained help of God, I continue unto this day witnessing both to small and great…” Acts 26.22.
Dear ones who love Jesus Christ, I greet you with the love of the Lord Jesus Christ and wish you blessings, health, courage, steadfastness and success from God. I rejoice and thank God that today I can have a short meeting with my family. I have been wanting to write. While I was with N.G., I received from you many letters and cards that have encouraged me during my difficult moments. Praise the Lord that He knows each of His redeemed children. He knows where each child is located and through His other children He provides exactly what we need. The Lord will reward you. He said: “When I was in prison, you visited Me” (Matthew 25.35-41). Forgive my long silence. I didn’t want that but you know my circumstances. “For as the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our consolation also abounds by Christ. Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and the God of all comfort” (2 Corinthians 1). Yes, He comforts prisoners and all the brotherhood and takes care of our families. He says to each of us: “Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the Lord thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest.”
A. N. Shubinin, serving three years strict regime concentration camp.