Dangerous History: Russia Slides Backward: A Note on Yuri Dmitriev and Moscow’s Return to Politically Directed “Punitive Psychiatry”


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Yuri Dmitriev by Mediafond (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons.


Bukovsky, Vladimir and Semyon Gluzman.  A Manual on Psychiatry for Dissenters. (URL is to PDF). 1974.

The BackChannels editor has to wear “readers” too, but to spare some squinting here’s the most critical pull from the small print in the above image:

Dissenters, as a rule, have enough legal grounding so as not to make mistakes during their investigation and trial, but when confronted by a qualified psychiatrist with a directive from above to have them declared non-responsible, they have found themselves absolutely powerless.

Kafka comes to mind.

So does Milan Kundera’s famous statement: “The struggle of man against power is the struggle of memory against forgetting.”

President Vladimir Putin’s dictatorship has chosen for Russians the erasure of their memory and gone after the culturally healing human rights organization Memorial.

While Yuri Dimitriev’s dark adventure into Putin’s Hell gains traction in the western human rights community, another Memorial notable has been apparently framed (here relayed in shortest form):

Oyub Titiev

https://www.amnesty.org/en/latest/news/2018/01/russia-rights-defender-arbitrarily-arrested-in-chechnya/ – 1/11/2018

https://www.state.gov/r/pa/prs/ps/2018/01/276951.htm – 1/11/2018

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/jan/10/chechnya-under-fire-after-human-rights-activist-held-for-drugs-possession – 1/10/2018

BackChannels wishes not to dilute the singular and stunning insult to the world that is the “Dmitriev Affair”, but it’s evident the Phantom of the Soviet has in mind the planting and rooting of Old Totalitarian Poison even with the world’s entire New Intelligentsia taking notice.

A Loose Note on Related Poli-Psy

Expressed as a personal trope: “Absolute Power” becomes inevitably the power to visit suffering on others with impunity.

Expressed as a personal trope: according to Richard Pipes (and now I shall have to relocate the reference), as the power of the Mongols receded, Russian princes had nonetheless internalized the idea that property and person could be (and should be) treated as the same thing, and proof of sovereignty was to be found in the permit to destroy either at will and without consequence.

For the malignant among narcissists, it would seem the suffering of another should have no consequence other than to affirm the power of the narcissist’s own blind will.  All the techniques of theater — for controlling family, if small; for controlling nations, if large — may apply to the artifice of presenting “reality” with the intention of framing and creating popular — and a neither too bright nor curious nor politically empowered — perception.

Reference Related to Yuri Dmitriev

ABC News.  “Fears Russian historian who exposed Stalin’s crimes may be falsely declared insane.”  January 10, 2018:

Some of Russia’s leading cultural figures say Mr Dmitriev was framed because his focus on Stalin’s crimes — he found a mass grave with up to 9,000 bodies dating from the Soviet dictator’s Great Terror in the 1930s — conflicts with the latter-day Kremlin narrative that Russia must not be ashamed of its past.

The narrative has taken on added importance ahead of a March presidential election, with polls showing incumbent Vladimir Putin, who uses his country’s World War II victory when Stalin was in charge to bolster national pride, is on track to win.

Mr Putin asserted last year that what he called an “excessive demonisation of Stalin” was being used to undermine Russia.

Activatica.  “The Arrest of Karelian ‘Memorial” Head Yuri Dmitriev: What is Known.”  March 22, 2017:

In general, the situation in Karelia is complex. On one hand, Karelia is a region where many exiles are left, the whole region was filled with camps and exiles, and the memory of this is alive at the personal level. And the authorities of Karelia have, for a rather long time, supported the activities of “Memorial” and various structures for perpetuating memory. When Dmitriev discovered the Sandarmokh burial site, the Karelian authorities cooperated and held a contest to landscape this place. But at the same time, there were efforts to conceal and obstruct the receipt of information on the side of the secret services. They also tried to pressure Dmitriev six years ago. On one side the authorities helped, but on the other side, some power structures interfered. And in the past couple years, pressure on Dmitriev has intensified, as an independent historian.

Ayres, Sabra.  “An outspoken research of Stalin’s crimes fights for his own fate and freedom in Russia.”  Los Angeles Times, July 24, 2017:

A small clearing in a dense northwestern Russian forest marks the site where, 20 years ago, Yuri Dmitriev discovered a group of mass graves containing victims of Josef Stalin’s Great Terror.

Using detailed documents uncovered in KGB archives, Dmitriev was able to piece together the location where Stalin’s execution squads killed and buried more than 9,500 people from 1937 to 1938. The documents contained the dates and names of those killed, as well as the executioners’ names. During the next two decades, Dmitriev worked meticulously to document every victim’s story.

Bukovsky, Vladimir.  “Punitive Psychiatry (1977).”  The Bukovsky Archives.  Vladimir Bukovsky’s foreward to Russia’s political hospitals (1977) by Sidney Bloch and Peter Reddaway.

Luhn, Alec.  “Gulag grave hunter unearths uncomfortable truths in Russia.”  The Guardian, August 3, 2017:

“For our government to become … accountable, we need to educate the people,” Dmitriyev said of his efforts to uncover details of Soviet repression.

But not everyone wants to remember this forgotten history, especially amid Russia’s current patriotic fervour. The Russian president, Vladimir Putin, said in June that “excessive demonisation” of Stalin has been a “means of attacking the Soviet Union and Russia”, and several branches of Memorial have been declared “foreign agents” in recent years.

U.S. Embassy & Consulates in Russia.  “U.S. Mission to Russia Concerned with Charges Against Yury Dmitriev.”  May 31, 2017:

The U.S. Mission to Russia is concerned by what appear to be politically-motivated criminal charges against prominent human rights activist and historian Yury Dmitriev. Mr. Dmitriev is a respected historian whose work has been instrumental in uncovering mass burial sites and founding the Sandarmokh Memorial Complex in Karelia. We call on Russia to transparently uphold the rule of law and respect human rights and fundamental freedoms enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. We also call on Russia to respect its international human rights obligations, including those related to the prohibition on arbitrary arrest or detention and respect for fair trial guarantees.

Osborn, Andrew.  “Russian historian who exposed Stalin’s crimes faces enforced psychiatric testing.”  Reuters, January 9, 2018:

A previous psychiatric evaluation declared him to be of sound mind and a court-sanctioned expert group found no pornographic content in nine photographs of his daughter that are at the center of the case against him, overturning the earlier findings of other experts commissioned by prosecutors.

Yarovaya, Anna.  “The Yuri Dmitriev Affair”.  The Independent Barents Observer.  March 11, 2017:

What always struck me about Dmitriev was his enthusiasm, which materialized less in the help he gave me and more in his attitude to history, to events that had occurred many years ago. For example, in the same cemetery where I shot the film, he found the remains of a POW. None of the local authorities was in a hurry to bury the exhumed “youth,” as Dmitriev called him. So Dmitriev put the bones in his garage. A while later, he secured a spot in Peski Cemetery, found a sponsor to help him buy a gravestone, and asked the philologist Valentina Dvinskaya to translate the phrase “To the victims of war, disappeared but not forgotten” into German so that it could be engraved on the headstone. He did all this for an unknown man who had been killed over sixty years ago.

It was only later I realized that Yuri Dmitriev was the same Yuri Dmitriev who had founded the Sandarmokh Memorial Cemetery, who was involved in investigating the Krasny Bor Forest NKVD execution site in Karelia, who had catalogued over 13,000 names of victims of the Great Terror of 1937–1938 in Karelia and published them in The Book of Remembrance, which runs to thousands of pages.

Wikipedia.  “Memorial”.

The Dmitriev Affair (Website)


FTAC: Poli-Sci / Poli-Psy / Poli-Phi: Evolution


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Inspiration: the argument that we are as we are, and we are ferocious and savage in our appetites, desires, and jealousies.  For proof: have a glance at the “Middle East Conflict”.

My response —

I’m more hopeful.

Civilizational establishment and change involve unique conditions and experiences in place and in time. While we’re fond of saying, “The more things change, the more things remain as they were”, we’re really not happy dragging our yesterdays into our tomorrow’s if and when we’re aware of other and better possibilities.

Whatever the impediments have been in addressing nature, including our own, experience and biological evolution works through us as well: as a species, we may more incline toward conscience and empathy over time despite the demonstrated savagery of earlier eras.

On another day, I may have said such things were to be left to God,l nature, and the universe.  On this one: perhaps we are in some ways responsible for how we manage ourselves and our conditions as a species dependent on the health of the earth itself and on ourselves for the qualities experienced in living.

Alive in the background: Aestop’s wisdom having to do with the character of the dangerous organism, scorpion or snake; however, there’s also Thomas Berry’s emerging earth spirituality: with the power to destroy our species-wide platform for existence, we may have also the obligation and ability — very adult thing that ability with science and technology shaped by concern — to be careful with Mother Earth as well.

Regarding “Qualities of Living (QOL)”


Biological / Physical

Economic / Distributed Degree of Freedom and Security

Psychological / Spiritual

The “QOL” concept needs a build-out to meet up with both the Freedom House audience and those who read article with titles like “Best Countries in Which to Retire”.

Still: let QOL stand x Area Defined, from community to region, and what takes place within the same over some measure of time.

Civil services and reporters naturally look into the “negatives” of space — crime rates, for example — while the development and planning communities also consider the architecture and engineering of environments for habitation.  The end of so much effort and widespread across time should be improvements in good and secure living for all, not decay back down into greater anomie, conflict, crime, dictatorship, and living hell itself.


FTAC: “Zionism Has Been Always Progressive” – A Short Statement


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Inspiration: no other source than God-given existence itself.

Zionism has been always progressive — real yearning, real communes, real economic development, real inclusive democratic politics, real compassion for real people.

The Palestinian project has had other drives, most of all the defense of autocrats and their societies and states deeply invested in and dependent on political absolutism. They don’t want to change, and the GOOD reason for that has been to avoid creating conditions for cultural chaos, so change has to be mapped and done in steps; the BAD reason has to do with excessive greed, fear, and narcissism on the part of politically criminal leaders who need to deflect anger away from themselves.

To be truly progressive for Israel (and everyone else) means getting to the kind of cadre that continues to promote BDS and the political levers and methods associated with that “active measure” against the liberal humanism and ideas that have developed from Judaism and its emphasis on good law and social transaction.


Iran’s Protesters Appeal to President Trump for Support Against Dictatorship


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Iran Protests, Dec 30, 2017 – chanting slogans against Khamenei in Tehran University – NCRI

Demonstrators were reportedly heard yelling slogans like “The people are begging, the clerics act like God”. Protests have even been held in Qom, a holy city home to powerful clerics.

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-42519054 – 12/30/2017

Other demonstrators chanted “leave Syria, think about us” in videos posted online. Iran is a key provider of military support to the government of Bashar al-Assad in Syria.

Twenty-one hours ago:


One theme emerging from the protests: faith in President Trump’s determination to battle back dictatorships and groom democracies.

US President Donald Trump has repeatedly taken aim at Iran, denouncing its government as a “fanatical regime” and accusing it of violating an international agreement aimed at curbing Tehran’s nuclear program, refusing to certify its compliance with the deal.

State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert also addressed the protests.

“The United States strongly condemns the arrest of peaceful protesters. We urge all nations to publicly support the Iranian people and their demands for basic rights and an end to corruption,” she said in a statement.



Syria: The Horror: 2011


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Bashar al-Assad By Kremlin.ru, CC BY 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=44378508 | Vladimir Putiin By Kremlin.ru, CC BY 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=60759727 | Ali Khameini By Tasnim News Agency, CC BY 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=57953266

Related Reference

Asher-Schapiro, Avi.  “The Young Men Who Started Syria’s Revolution Speak About Where It All Began.”  VICE News, March 15, 2016:

Omar first heard about the graffiti at morning recess. It was winter, he was 14, in the middle of 10th grade, and his friends said it was just a prank. The day before, just after school, a handful of Omar’s classmates found some red paint and scrawled, “Your turn doctor,” on the school’s wall. Under most circumstances, in most places, such behavior might provoke a slap on the wrist — perhaps a stern visit from the police. But in Daraa, Syria, in February 2011, those words could get you killed.

Macleod, Hugh.  “How schoolboys began the Syrian revolution.”  CBS News / Global Post, April 26, 2011:

The local secret police soon arrested 15 boys between the ages of 10 and 15, detaining them under the control of Gen. Atef Najeeb, a cousin of President Bashar al-Assad.

In a gloomy interrogation room the children were beaten and bloodied, burned and had their fingernails pulled out by grown men working for a regime whose unchecked brutality appears increasingly to be sowing the seeds of its undoing.


FTAC: Middle East Conflict: Back to Max Erwin von Scheubner-Richter and Forward to the Plundering of Palestinian Misery by Palestinian Leadership Elites


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This one I will let fly in “to whom it may concern” fashion.

The links have been laying about for decades but not necessary chained together with distilled clarity.

Okhrana Era Russian anti-Semitic promotion (The Protocols of the Elders of Zion and much other garbage) –> Scheubner-Richter (and other White Russian emigre to Germany) –> Adolph Hitler (and the Nazi movement) –> genocide and persecution of the Jews of Europe –> Grand Mufti al-Husayni (and the notched up persecution of the Jews of the Middle East) –> Stalin –> KGB Projects –> and many years later, Arafat and the PLO.

Add: the Arab keeping of Palestinian refugees in apartheid camps for 70 years.

Add: legendary PLO/PA and Hamas corruption and political suppression.

Palestinian poverty has been enforced by the Palestinian Leadership exactly to draw charity and development support from the world for plunder and the enrichment of elites and their systems of patronage.

To really get half way to the bottom of the political engineering, one may start with the grooming of Arafat and the PLO (look up Ion Mihai Pacepa for that).

To get all the way back to the Nazi base that was picked up by the Soviet Union at the end of WWII — Stalin acquired in relationships what Hitler could not hold — you would go back to the figure of Max Erwin von Scheubner-Richter and his relationship with Adolph Hitler.

The smallest note in history: Scheubner-Richter was killed by Hitler’s side in the failed Beer Hall Putsch that took place November 9, 1923. Kristallnacht was to take place exactly 15 years later on the same day in 1938.

Our laziness in ferreting out the details of the long story and making them a part of common public education have helped those who exploit and sustain Palestinian misery to keep themselves adorned in power and in wealth

November 9, 1923: Beer Hall Putsch

November 9, 1938: Kristallnacht


Pravda — Real To the Marrow


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In the New Age of Active Measures, the countermeasure is the conveyance of truth — not “alternative truth” or multiple possibility derived from promoted fantasia — supported by great curiosity and integrity as married to equally great journalism and scholarship.

A friend promoted the Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty project as focused against deceptive and disingenuous political cant designed to whip up extremist emotion and stupidity in Asia as well as in its older domains.

In regard to information and integrity in speech online, BackChannels has published a few related posts that may convey an image about Potemkinism in political speech: there are those who project through language the way they might wish their followers would see the world and themselves.





BackChannels really hasn’t an issue with political presentation and “show business” in general but rather than with a depth in totalitarianism in which accusation (especially “reflection in the mirror“) and conflict (and related barbarism) would seem to have no point but of the completely artificial conveyance of image.