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Cablegate: Embassy's Meeting with United Civic Front Activist

VZCZCXRO1320
PP RUEHLN
DE RUEHMO #5030 2900431
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 170431Z OCT 07
FM AMEMBASSY MOSCOW
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 4657
INFO RUEHLN/AMCONSUL ST PETERSBURG PRIORITY 4630
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC PRIORITY

UNCLAS MOSCOW 005030

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PHUM PGOV PINR RS
SUBJECT: EMBASSY'S MEETING WITH UNITED CIVIC FRONT ACTIVIST
LARISSA ARAP

REF: A. MOSCOW 3953

B. MOSCOW 4091

1. (SBU) Summary: On October 15, Embassy met with Larissa
Arap immediately after her return from the United States, in
order to discuss problems that she and her family were
reportedly facing in Murmansk and the case she has brought
against the psychiatric hospital that had held her against
her will during the summer, and which will be heard by a
Murmansk court on October 17 (reftels). Arap clarified that
she is not in danger of being re-institutionalized as a
result of the case to be heard on October 17. She provided
us with contact information for her and her associates, and
the Embassy provided her with contact information for the
Consulate in St. Petersburg. End Summary.

2. (SBU) On October 15, Embassy met with Murmansk-based
United Civic Front (UCF) activist Larissa Arap immediately
after her return to Russia from a trip to the United States.
(Arap --reftels-- had been involuntarily institutionalized in
Murmansk in July, allegedly because of comments she had made
to the media about her treatment during an earlier
hospitalization in a psychiatric institution.) Arap, who
appeared anxious, was accompanied by Marina Litvinovich,
Director of the Aid to Victims of Terror Foundation, and
Denis Bilunov, UCF Executive Director. Arap described
anonymous threats that she had received before her trip to
the United States; some sent as text messages to her mobile
phone. Bilunov quoted one such threat, that warned Arap that
if she traveled to the United States "you and your family
will have problems." Arap said that neither she nor her
family had received any threats after she left for the United
States.

3. (SBU) Arap reported that her daughter had been fired from
her job in a public relations firm before Arap's visit to the
United States, allegedly because of the publicity generated
by Arap's case. Arap said she feared retribution from both
the hospital and local authorities upon her return to
Murmansk. She feared that the Apetity psychiatric hospital,
where she had been institutionalized in July, would again try
to institutionalize her. She also said that she feared for
her physical safety, although she had received no specific
threats of violence. Arap said that many negative stories
about her had already been aired on Murmansk television.

4. (SBU) On October 17, Arap will appear in the same court
that upheld the legality of her July hospitalization in a
case that she has brought against the Apetity psychiatric
hospital. Contrary to reports circulating after her visit to
the United States, Arap insisted that she is not in danger of
being reinstitutionalized at this hearing. Arap and Bilunov
claimed that they "have absolutely no chance" of winning this
case, given that this court already sided with the hospital
in an earlier case on the same issue (ref a). The trial was
necessary, however, step in order allow the case to be
considered by an appellate court.

5. (SBU) Poloff provided contact information to Arap and her
colleagues for both the Embassy and the Consulate in St.
Petersburg. He asked that they keep the Consulate informed
of her circumstances in Murmansk and of the outcome of the
case. Embassy recommended that Arap bring any further
developments to the attention of the Human Rights Ombudsman's
office, since it had worked to secure her release in August
(ref b).
Burns

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