Dissented medical worker in mental hospital

Dr Ihar Pastnou who has recently been put in a mental asylum is out of reach. What is going on behind its doors?

Doctor turned into patient

On August 16 Mr Pastnou was placed in Vitsebsk psychiatric hospital where he used to work as a mental specialist. He managed to phone his friend Uladzimir Zhyhulou and inform that all that was happening “with a prosecutor’s approval”. Later his mobile phone was taken away.

At the moment Mr Pastnou is being kept in a closed unit. According to Mr Zhyhulou, the doctor anticipated such events because he was repeatedly threatened.

In his video appeal Mr Pastnou stated that in hospital homeless persons were subjected to illegal coercive medical treatment. His activity on the Internet dissatisfied the hospital’s ideologist, he added. This compulsory admission to a mental asylum might have been triggered by the video appeal, human rights defender Leanid Svetsik told Belsat TV.

Thrown over the brige by colleagues?

Nobody knows how things are standing in hospital now: Mr Pastnou is not allowed to leave it or contact anybody. The doctor has no blood relatives: his mother died some months ago, Uladzimir Zhyhulou told spring96.org. Mr Zhyhulou was to become his legal representative but the friends did not manage to consult a notary public officer.

Any information on a patient’s health status and methods of treatment is medical secrecy; it can be disclosed only to immediate family member or a legal representative, in some cases – to investigative authorities. Friends and journalists have no legal grounds for obtaining information of such kind.

Leanid Svetsik does not rule out that it is the colleagues who wrote an application to put the doctor in a closed unit. After receiving a document containing presumptive diagnosis is the prosecutor’s office authorizes a person’s hospitalizing because of their posing a risk to the public. Then health workers should make out a diagnosis within a month and lodge a legal application on compulsory treatment. As a rule, any hearings are held in camera because of the right of privacy.

Only after a sentence is known human rights defenders will be able to take meaures. According to Leanid Svetsik, the best thing that the doctor’s friends can do for him is to hire an attorney.


It is not the first time that Ihar Pastnou has given a true and fair view of Belarusian health service to independent media including Belsat TV. After being interviewed he had a lot of troubles: plain cloth police threatened him and his authority.

Addressing to state-owned media and public officers Mr Pastnou brought up public health service issues as well. But in answer to his activity he was dismissed several times.




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