Viktor Nekipelov

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Viktor Alexandrovich Nekipelov
Native name Виктор Александрович Некипелов
Born (1928-09-29)September 29, 1928
Harbin, China
Died July 1, 1989(1989-07-01) (aged 60)
Paris, France
Nationality Russian
Citizenship  Soviet Union
Alma mater Kharkiv Medical Institute, Maxim Gorky Literature Institute
Occupation medicine, pharmacy, literature, poetry
Known for human rights activism with participation in the Moscow Helsinki Group
Movement dissident movement in the Soviet Union
Awards Order of the Cross of Vytis

Viktor Aleksandrovich Nekipelov (Russian: Ви́ктор Алекса́ндрович Некипе́лов, 29 September 1928, Harbin, China - 1 July 1989, Paris[1]) was a Russian poet,[2][3] writer,[4]:238 Soviet dissident,[5]:85 member of the Moscow Helsinki Group.[6][7][8]:265 He spent about nine years in prison for his participation in the Moscow Helsinki Group.[9]

Nekipelov was born to a Soviet family of workers of the Chinese Eastern Railway. In 1937, he and his mother came to the Soviet Union. In 1939, his mother was arrested and died in imprisonment. He left a high school in Omsk. From 1947 to 1950, he studied at the Omsk Army Medical School.[1] In 1950, he left the Omsk Army Medical School with honours.[10] In 1960, he graduated from the army medical faculty of the Kharkiv Medical Institute with honours as well.[10] In 1969, he graduated from an extramural faculty of the Moscow Literature Institute.[11] He worked as a pharmacist.[12][13]

In 1973, he was arrested for "spreading of known false fabrications that is damaging the Soviet political system" (Article 190-1 of the RSFSR Criminal Code).[10] Nekipelov was sent to the Section 4 of the Serbsky Institute of Forensic Psychiatry for psychiatric evaluation, which lasted from 15 January to 12 March 1974, was judged sane (which he was), tried, and sentenced to two years' imprisonment.[2] In 1976, he published in samizdat his book Institute of Fools: Notes on the Serbsky Institute[14]:147 based on his personal experience at Psychiatric Hospital of the Serbsky Institute[15]:86 and translated into English in 1980.[16][17]:312

In October 1977, Nekipelov joined the Moscow Helsinki Group.[11] In 1977, the joint book From Yellow Silence: The Collection of Memoirs and Articles by Political Prisoners of Psychiatric Hospitals by Nekipelov and Alexander Podrabinek was completed.[18]

After publishing Institute of Fools, he was sentenced to the maximum punishment for "anti-Soviet agitation and propaganda" of seven years in a labour camp and then five years in internal exile.[2] As Zavoisky and Krylovsky wrote, Nekipelov developed cancer caused by his permanent poisoning in a prison camp.[19]

Along with Arina Ginzburg, Malva Landa, Tatyana Velikanova and Andrei Sakharov he demanded a referendum in the Baltic republics to determine their political destiny.[20]

Released in 1987, he emigrated to France where he died in 1989.

In 1992, the selection of his verses was published by Memorial society.[21]

On his book[edit]

In his book Institute of Fools, he wrote compassionately, engagingly, and observantly of the doctors and other patients; most of the latters were ordinary criminals feigning insanity in order to be sent to a mental hospital, because hospital was a "cushy number" as against prison camps.[2] According to the President of the Independent Psychiatric Association of Russia Yuri Savenko, Nekipelov’s book is a highly dramatic humane document, a fair story about the nest of Soviet punitive psychiatry, a mirror that psychiatrists always need to look into.[10] However according to Malcolm Lader, this book as an indictment of the Serbsky Institute hardly rises above tittle-tattle and gossip, and Nekipelov destroys his own credibility by presenting no real evidence but invariably putting the most sinister connotation on events.[2]

After reading the book, Donetsk psychiatrist Pekhterev concluded that allegations against the psychiatrists sounded from the lips of a negligible but vociferous part of inmates who when surfeiting themselves with cakes pretended to be sufferers.[22] According to the response by Robert van Voren, Pekhterev in his article condescendingly argues that the Serbsky Institute was not so bad place and that Nekipelov exaggerates and slanders it, but Pekhterev, by doing so, misses the main point: living conditions in the Serbsky Institute were not bad, those who passed through psychiatric examination there were in a certain sense "on holiday" in comparison with the living conditions of the Gulag; and all the same, everyone was aware that the Serbsky Institute was more than the "gates of hell" from where people were sent to specialized psychiatric hospitals in Chernyakhovsk, Dnepropetrovsk, Kazan, Blagoveshchensk, and that is not all.[23] Their life was transformed to unimaginable horror with daily tortures by forced administration of drugs, beatings and other forms of punishment.[23] Many went crazy, could not endure what was happening to them, some even died during the "treatment" (for example, a miner from Donetsk Alexey Nikitin).[23] Many books and memoirs are written about the life in the psychiatric Gulag and every time when reading them a shiver seizes us.[23]


  1. ^ a b "Писатели-диссиденты: биобиблиографические статьи (продолжение)" [Dissident writers: bibliographic articles (continuance)]. Новое литературное обозрение [New Literary Review] (in Russian) (67). 2004. 
  2. ^ a b c d e Lader, Malcolm (26 July 1980). "Prisoners of psychiatry". The British Medical Journal 281 (6235): 298–299. PMC 1713856. Retrieved 4 February 2011. 
  3. ^ Mydans, Seth (29 July 1985). "Soviet human rights battle: only isolated voices remain". The New York Times. 
  4. ^ McCagg, William; Siegelbaum, Lewis (1989). The disabled in the Soviet Union: past and present, theory and practice. University of Pittsburgh Press. p. 238. ISBN 0-8229-3622-4. 
  5. ^ Sicher, Efraim (1985). Beyond marginality: Anglo-Jewish literature after the Holocaust. SUNY Press. p. 85. ISBN 0-87395-975-2. 
  6. ^ "Political prisoners seek Reagan's aid in urging inspection of Soviet camps". The Ukrainian Weekly LI (12). 20 March 1983. 
  7. ^ Sakharov, Andrei (1980). "USSR: Sakharov's plea for poets". Index on Censorship 9 (6): 64. doi:10.1080/03064228008533146. 
  8. ^ Bergman, Jay (2009). Meeting the demands of reason: the life and thought of Andrei Sakharov. Cornell University Press. p. 265. ISBN 0-8014-4731-3. 
  9. ^ "Soviets allowing dissident to leave". The Gadsden Times. 27 September 1987. 
  10. ^ a b c d Савенко, Юрий (2005). ""Институт дураков" Виктора Некипелова" [Institute of Fools by Viktor Nekipelov]. Nezavisimiy Psikhiatricheskiy Zhurnal (№ 4). 
  11. ^ a b "Nekipelov Viktor Alexandrovich" (Biography) (in Russian). Moscow Helsinki Group. 
  12. ^ "Olympics bring repression of Soviet scientists". New Scientist 87 (1209): 97. 10 July 1980. ISSN 0262-4079. 
  13. ^ Reddaway, Peter (1980). "Can the dissidents survive?". Index on Censorship 9 (4): 29–34. doi:10.1080/03064228008533090. 
  14. ^ Bloch, Sidney; Reddaway, Peter (1977). Psychiatric terror: how Soviet psychiatry is used to suppress dissent. Basic Books. p. 147. ISBN 0-465-06488-4. 
  15. ^ Jena, S.P.K. (2008). Behaviour therapy: techniques, research and applications. Sage Publications. p. 86. ISBN 0-7619-3624-6. 
  16. ^ Nekipelov, Viktor (1980). Institute of fools: notes from the Serbsky. Farrar, Straus, Giroux. ISBN 0-374-17703-1. 
  17. ^ Keefer, Janice; Pavlychko, Solomea (1998). Two lands, new visions: stories from Canada and Ukraine. Coteau Books. p. 312. ISBN 1-55050-134-8. 
  18. ^ Nekipelov, Viktor; Podrabinek, Alexander [Виктор Некипелов, Александр Подрабинек] (1977). Из жёлтого безмолвия: Сборник воспоминаний и статей политзаключенных психиатрических больниц [From yellow silence: the collection of memoirs and articles by political prisoners of psychiatric hospitals] (in Russian). Moscow. 
  19. ^ Zavoisky, Konstantin; Krylovsky, Vladimir [Константин Завойский, Владимир Крыловский] (2009). Тайно приговоренные. Как убивали члена московской хельсинской группы Виктора Некипелова [The secretly sentenced. How member of the Moscow Helsinki Group Viktor Nekipelov was being killed]. Mosty [Мосты] (in Russian) (24): 219. 
  20. ^ Vardys, Stanley (1981). "Human rights issues in Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania". Journal of Baltic Studies 12 (3). doi:10.1080/01629778100000251. 
  21. ^ Некипелов, Виктор (1992). Стихи: Избранное [Verses: selection]. Издательство "Memorial". 
  22. ^ Пехтерев В.А. (2013). Ода Институту Сербского [Ode to the Serbsky Institute]. Новости медицины и фармации [Medicine and Pharmacy News] (in Russian) 14 (465). Retrieved 8 February 2014. 
  23. ^ a b c d Ворен, Роберт ван (2013). Отзыв на статью об Институте Сербского [The response to an article on the Serbsky Institute]. Вестник Ассоциации психиатров Украины [The Herald of the Ukrainian Psychiatric Association] (in Russian) (The Ukrainian Psychiatric Association) (5). 

Further reading[edit]