Robert van Voren

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Robert van Voren
Prof. Bastiaans krijgt eerste exemplaar van het boek van eindredacteur Robert va, Bestanddeelnr 933-8760.jpg
Robert van Voren (left) and professor Bastiaans in 1987
Native name
Johannes Bax
Born (1959-07-25) July 25, 1959 (age 60)
Montreal, Quebec, Canada
CitizenshipCanada, Netherlands, Lithuania
Alma materAmsterdam University
Known forhis Russian studies, human rights activism and participation in struggle against political abuse of psychiatry in the Soviet Union
Awardsknight of the Order of Oranje-Nassau from Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands for his work as a human rights activist
Scientific career
Fieldspolitical science, psychiatry

Robert van Voren (publishing pseudonym of Johannes Baks,[1] Dutch: Johannes Bax,[2] born 25 July 1959, Montreal, Quebec, Canada[3]) is a Dutch human rights activist,[4] sovietologist and historian.[5]

He is a professor of Soviet and post-Soviet studies in the Ilia State University in Tbilisi (Georgia) and in the Vytautas Magnus University in Kaunas (Lithuania)[6] as well as Chief Executive of the international foundation Human Rights in Mental Health-Federation Global Initiative on Psychiatry and Executive Director of the Andrei Sakharov Research Center for Democratic Development at Vytautas Magnus University in Kaunas, Lithuania.


He was born on 7 July 1959, Montreal,[3] Quebec, Canada[7] and graduated from Amsterdam University in 1986.[8] In the 1980s, he worked at the Bukovsky Foundation based in Amsterdam[9] and since 1989 was the director of its successor, the Second World Center.[10] Since 1980, he had regularly visited the Soviet Union including Ukraine and collected information on repression of dissidents,[11] as well as smuggling Samizdat publications to the west. In 1986, he became Chief Executive of the Global Initiative on Psychiatry.[11] He is also a Honorary Fellow of the British Royal College of Psychiatrists and Honorary Member of the Ukrainian Psychiatric Association.[12] In 2005, he was knighted by Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands for his work as a human rights activist.[12] He has a Lithuanian citizenship[13] since 11 February 2003[3] and lives in Vilnius.[14]

Robert van Voren has published over a dozen books.[8] His works cover political abuse of psychiatry in the Soviet Union[15] and China[16] and reforms of mental health in Eastern Europe,[17] the former Soviet Union,[18] Ukraine,[19] Georgia.[20] Robert van Voren's contribution to reform of forensic psychiatry in states of the former Soviet Union is widely recognized.[21] Van Voren also published widely on the theme of the Holocaust in Lithuania.

In 2015, he commented the Ukrainian crisis and the Russian military intervention in the Syrian Civil War.[22]

Van Voren referred to the country in which he grew up, the Netherlands, as 'a wobbling overfed Christmas turkey', and to its people as 'greedy, self-serving, egocentric and above all fundamentally dissatisfied', and as 'convinced they are entitled', in the wake of the Dutch referendum on the Ukraine–European Union Association Agreement, with the result of which he was disappointed.[23]