Prominent Soviet dissident Leonid Plyushch dies

4th June 2015, Comments 0 comments

Communist-era Ukrainian dissident Leonid Plyushch, who was detained for almost three years in a psychiatric ward by the Soviet authorities, died Thursday aged 76 close to Paris, a friend told AFP.

"Leonid died on Thursday morning," said Arina Ginzburg, another Soviet dissident.

"He was a remarkable man who went through terrible trials."

Mathematician Plyushch was detained in 1972 in Kiev for "anti-Soviet activity", with the authorities attacking him for his membership of the first organised dissident group in the USSR, the Initiative Group for the Defence of Human Rights.

The following year he was forcibly committed to a psychiatric hospital in Dnipropetrovsk in Ukraine and subjected to almost three years of chemical treatments aimed at destroying his personality.

Under the effect of the drugs, "I soon sunk into a state of deafness, emotional and moral, I lost my memory, stammered incoherently", Plyushch wrote some years later in his memoirs.

"I clung on to repeating the same thing: do not forget any of this, do not surrender. The fear of becoming really crazy took over me."

Plyushch was eventually released in 1975 after an international campaign in the West demanding his release. He emigrated to France.

"Leonid Plyushch suffered most awful treatment: torture in the hell of the psychiatric wards," said Nobel Prize winning dissident Andrei Sakharov.

Plyushch's case was one of the first to come to light that showed how Soviet authorities under leader Leonid Brezhnev committed sane dissidents to psychiatric hospitals in a bid to silence them.

© 2015 AFP

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