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Response to Information Request Number:RUS00001.ZLA
Date:18 April 2000
Subject:Russia: Information on Discriminatory Practices in Providing Health Care to the Mentally Ill
From:INS Resource Information Center 

Russia / Psychiatry / Psychology / Ethnic Minorities / Discrimination / Health Care / Schizophrenia / Mental Illness / Armenia / Caucasus


Is psychiatric treatment denied to the mentally ill in Russia who are of an ethnic minority, especially Armenian? Is psychiatric or medical treatment denied to those who are diagnosed as schizophrenic?


A health care professional in Canada who works with a program dedicated to the reform of the Russian mental health care system stated that she has no knowledge of cases of Russian citizens being denied treatment for mental ailments on account of their ethnicity. She indicated that in many Russian cities today there is a societal antagonism against people from the Caucasus that could lead to discrimination in some form, though she is not aware of any particular cases in which a prejudice on the part of a health care professional prevented timely psychiatric treatment (Canadian-Russian Partnership on Community Mental Health Rehabilitation 12 April 2000). A psychiatrist at the National Institute of Mental Health in Bethesda, Maryland with experience working as a mental health professional in Russia stated that although he cannot rule out that an individual doctor or institution may employ discriminatory practices in treating patients, he too is not aware of any such allegations being made against a Russian doctor or hospital (National Institute of Mental Health 14 April 2000).

Research indicates that in Russia there are 4 million registered patients with mental disorders, schizophrenia being one of the most common diagnoses (Time 21 February 2000). Although no reports indicated that schizophrenic patients have been denied treatment on the basis of their condition, many have trouble receiving treatment for economic reasons. For example, Moscow Province¿s psychiatric hospitals received only 7% of the funding required for medications (Trud 29 October 1999). Many schizophrenic patients cannot receive medications because their basic salaries or pensions will not cover the cost (Time 21 February 2000).

This response was prepared after researching publicly accessible information currently available to the RIC within time constraints. This response is not, and does not purport to be, conclusive as to the merit of any particular claim to refugee status or asylum.


Project Coordinator. Canadian-Russian Partnership on Community Mental Health Rehabilitation, Calgary. 12 April 2000. E-mail sent to RIC.

Psychiatrist. National Institute of Mental Health, Bethesda, MD. 14 April 2000. Telephone Interview.

Time. 21 February 2000. Rod Usher. "Ivan the Ill; Post-Soviet Trauma is to Blame for the Soaring Number of Russians in a Sad State of Mental Health."

Trud [Moscow, in Russian]. 29 October 1999. Nina Fokina. "One Flew Over in a Straitjacket ¿ Health Ministry Says One in Four Russian Citizens Needs Mental Health Services." (Current Digest of the Post-Soviet Press 1 December 1999/NEXIS)

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