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Russian Artist Pyotr Pavlensky Chops Off Ear in Protest Against Russia's Forced Psychiatry

Russian Artist Pyotr Pavlensky Chops Off Ear in Protest Against Russia's Forced Psychiatry

Russian artist Pyotr Pavlensky cut off his ear to protest the Russian use of psychiatric “treatment” on political dissidents. Pavlensky previously gained fame when he nailed his scrotum to Red Square in November 2013. He also burned tires in February in support of Ukraine’s Euromaiden protests against pro-Russian President Viktor Yanukovych.

Russia has forced imprisoned political dissidents to endure psychiatric treatments, including Pavlensky. Pavlensky chose to climb to the roof of the Serbsky psychiatric center with a large kitchen knife and proceed to chop off his right ear. On his wife’s Facebook page, he said the action “was meant to represent the damage from police ‘returning to the use of psychiatry for political goals.'”

“Armed with psychiatric diagnoses, the bureaucrat in a white lab coat cuts off from society those pieces that prevent him from establishing a monolithic dictate of a single, mandatory norm for everyone,” he said.

Authorities rushed him to the hospital for the ear and tests for pneumonia. His lawyer Dmitry Dinze said Pavlensky does not have pneumonia or any “lasting problems” from the severed ear. Pavlensky should be discharged soon.

Prosecutors wanted Pavlensky to undergo psychiatric tests after he burned the tires in February. The courts constantly turned down the prosecutors, but Dinze claims Pavlenskyh “underwent a psychiatric evaluation” and was declared sane.

The center was notorious during the USSR. Anyone who disagreed with leaders were sent to the center for a “detox” of their treacherous thoughts because “[N]o sane person would declaim against the Soviet government and communism.” The doctors diagnosed the people with “politically defined madness.” The dissidents endured electric shock treatment, beatings, and forced medications. 

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