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Raisa Radchenko: Grandmother. Anti-corruption campaigner. Enforced psychiatric patient.

70-year-old Raisa Radchenko is being held in a psychiatric hospital in Ukraine and forcibly given treatment. She has no history of mental illness, but she does have a long one of causing trouble for the authorities. We think Raisa’s detention is an attempt to silence her anti-corruption protests.

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Text RELEASE and your full name to 70505 to call for Raisa's immediate release. Over 14s only please. Prefer not to text?

A vocal campaigner

A well-known human rights defender in her local town of Zaporizhzhya in Ukraine, Raisa has actively fought against corruption and police abuse – at a national and local level. She’s organised a petition calling for the resignation of the local mayor and is a key member of several citizens’ associations.

Last month, Raisa delivered petitions on behalf of local residents to the Prosecutor General’s Office and the Presidential Administration in the capital Kiev. 

Text RELEASE and your full name to 70505 to demand that Ukraine protects human rights defenders like Raisa. Over 14s only please. Prefer not to text?

Forced psychological ‘help’

On 11 July, after a struggle with 30 police officers – who restrained her daughter, Daryna, and five-year-old grandson – Raisa was detained at the local psychiatric hospital, where she remains today. 

Raisa has no history of mental illness and the court decision used to justify her detention is based on the testimony of two cleaners working in her block who accused her of anti-social behaviour. 

It allowed for an examination, not forced treatment. But when Daryna visited her mother a couple of days later she found that Raisa had been given strong drugs – a sedative commonly used in the treatment of manic depression and schizophrenia. She also saw bruises on her mother’s body. 

A court has since ordered that Raisa should be treated as a psychiatric in-patient because she ‘posed a threat to society’, opening the door for more enforced treatment.

Text RELEASE and your full name to 70505 to ask the authorities demand Raisa’s immediate release and an impartial psychiatric assessment. Over 14s only please. Prefer not to text?

Claims of police mistreatment

Raisa’s daughter Daryna says that two police officers and a psychiatrist arrived at her mother’s house on 10 July, telling Raisa that a court had decided she should be taken to a psychiatric hospital for an examination. When the officials  were unable to produce any papers confirming this, Raisa refused to open the door. 

The next day, joined by her five-year-old grandson and Daryna, Raisa went to the District Court for clarification. There, Daryna says, 30 police officers appeared and restrained her, her son and her mother. They detained Raisa and took her to the local psychiatric hospital. 

Text RELEASE and your full name to 70505 to call for an investigation into alleged mistreatment by police. Over 14s only please. Prefer not to text?

We think this is all a cruel and vindictive attempt to silence Raisa’s vocal campaigning. And Ukraine has previous: in November 2009 a trade union activist was threatened with forced psychiatric treatment but the order was overturned after we issued an urgent action on his behalf.

You’re being heard – but we need more

The authorities have already started to react to your actions. A delegation from the Ombudsperson’s office visited Zaporizhzhya and met with Raisa, as well as the other parties involved in her case. The governor of the region has announced that he is taking the case under his personal control. And two policemen who had visited Daryna claiming there had been allegations of child abuse have been disciplined.

But Raisa remains in psychiatric detention and we need you to show the authorities we’re still watching. 

Text RELEASE and your full name to 70505 to end this unfair treatment. Over 14s only please. Prefer not to text?

What happens to my text?

We will add your name, but not your phone number, to a co-signed letter which we will send to the Governor of Zaporizhzhya Region, Ukraine’s Prosecutor General and the Ombudsman. We’ll also send a copy to Ukraine’s Ambassador in the UK.

The letter calls on the authorities to: 

  • Immediately release Raisa Radchenko and give her a psychiatric examination outside the Zaporizhya Region to ensure impartiality, with the participation of a psychiatrist from the Ukrainian Psychiatric Association
  • Reminding the authorities that they have an obligation not only to ensure that human rights defenders can carry out their activities unhindered but also to protect them against any violence, threats, or retaliation in conformity with the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders (1999)
  • Asking for an investigation into the alleged ill-treatment of Daryna Radchenko and Raisa Radchenko by police officers.

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You can email, fax or write to the authorities in Ukraine. Contact details are in the docment at the bottom of this post. 

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Our blogs are written by Amnesty International staff, volunteers and other interested individuals, to encourage debate around human rights issues. They do not necessarily represent the views of Amnesty International.
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