Punitive Psychiatry: The Case of Russian Anti-War Protester Mikhail Davydov

Solidarity zone
August 23, 2023

Compulsory psychiatric treatment for man alleged to have thrown Molotov cocktails on Ukrainian Independence Day

On 1 August 2023, the 2nd Western District Military Court sentenced 49-year-old Mikhail Davydov to compulsory psychiatric treatment. Davydov had been charged with “terrorism” (per Article 205.1 of the Russian Federal Criminal Code) over Molotov cocktails thrown at the regional administration building in Oryol last year.

The criminal case was launched after an unknown cyclist threw two Molotov cocktails at the front doors of the Oryol regional government building on Ukrainian Independence Day (24 August) last years. The cyclist’s actions were captured by a surveillance camera.

The alleged perpetrator, Mikhail Davydov, was apprehended only a week later, on 31 August 2022. A 48-year-old resident of the region, Davydov was allegedly on the federal wanted list for “refusal to testify” (per Article 308 of the Criminal Code). According to investigators, Davydov had been hiding from the FSB since 22 April 2019. Davydov and his lawyer Larisa Melikhova denied this, however. According to them, Davydov had not been hiding from anyone, “since he had been providing for himself since 2019 and had petitioned the Federal Bailiffs Service for alimony payments, which request was denied. He was not in hiding, but had lived the entire time in the Oryol Region’s Bolkhov District, where he was detained by police officers.”

On 8 September 2022, Davydov was charged with “reckless attempted murder” (per Articles 30.3.e and 105.2 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation). The region’s governor, Andrei Klychkov, reported that a regional administration staffer had been wounded during the attack. However, the surveillance footage shows that the cyclist began throwing the Molotov cocktails before the doors opened (that is, they had no intention of killing anyone). In addition, the governor wrote that the employee in question was “doing fine.”

Davydov’s remand in custody at the pretrial detention center was extended several times, each time on the attempted murder charges. Davydov, however, was sent to a psychiatric hospital, apparently in February 2023. At any rate, in March 2023 the court extended his term of detention at a psychiatric hospital.

In June 2023, the case was submitted to the 2nd Western District Military Court, but now on charges of “terrorism.” On 1 August 2023, the court issued a ruling that Davydov be subjected to compulsory medical treatment. According to Kommersant newspaper, “the defendant was declared insane.”

Compulsory psychiatric treatment, unlike imprisonment, is not limited to a fixed term. It ends when a panel of physicians rules that the individual has been “cured,” and the court seconds their ruling. There have been cases in which people were subjected to compulsory psychiatric treatment for many years.

Source: Solidarity Zone (Facebook), 13 August 2023. Translated by the Russian Reader