By BosNewsLife News Center with reporting by
BosNewsLife's Stefan J. Bos
KIEV/BUDAPEST (BosNewsLife)-- A Ukrainian court has reportedly sentenced an elderly human rights activist, known for her fight against corruption and police abuse, to a psychological hospital resembling the Soviet-era, amid a wider crackdown on political opponents.
The court in the southeastern city of Zaporizhia ordered Raisa Radchenko to undergo psychological 'help', including forceful treatment with drugs, a method used against dissidents and devoted Christians when Ukraine was still part of the Soviet Union, local media said Friday, July 12.
This week's ruling came after she publicly criticized alleged police brutality in her city and the rest of the country, and collected signatures for the resignation of the mayor, her daughter, Daria Radchenko, told reporters.
"On Wednesday, July, 11, three people, including police and a psychiatrist, arrived at my mother's apartment citing a court order that she should be admitted to a psychological hospital for compulsory treatment," the daughter was quoted as saying by independent news website Ukrayinska Pravda (Ukrainian Truth) and other outlets.
Activist Radchenko refused to open her door but decided to ask for clarification Thursday, July 11, at the local Leninsky Court where she was "immediately detained", her daughter explained.
'MISTREATMENT IN COURT'
Daira Radchenko said the court initially refused to reveal her mother's whereabouts. "Instead two big security men in civilian clothes began to attack me and my five-year-old handicapped child after we arrived at the court," she recalled.
"One man wanted to defend us, but he was immediately threatened," Daria Radchenko was quoted as saying. "They tied my hands and those of my weak child, and attacked us. I have bruises to proof the mistreatment," she said.
Eventually, her mother managed to briefly reach her daughter by telephone. "She only had time to say where she was. I think they started to drug her already," Daira Radchenko said.
"I could hear strange noises. I was screaming: 'Mom-Mom' but she could not answer and the phone was cut off."
She said she still doesn't know "the real reasons" for her mother's detention "as she had no recorded mental problems."
'TYRANNY' IN UKRAINE
However she linked the detention to her mother's participation several protests against perceived police inaction, "tyranny" and high level corruption and abuse of power within law enforcement agencies across the country.
Radchenko, who was often seen with a megaphone defending pensioners and other impoverished people, isn't the only dissident being targeted by local authorities for expressing her opinion.
Svetlana Milchevich, an evangelical Christian who became a voice of the voiceless with her public fight against abuse of power and corruption by Ukrainian authorities, died after officials refused to allow her to seek medical treatment in neighboring Hungary. She was 64.
"Svetlana Milchevich, who suffered of stomach cancer, peacefully passed away and is now with the Lord," said her family in a statement at the time.
Milchevich died in the cold, run-down hospital of Ukraine's western border town of Uzhhorod, where doctors were struggling to find enough pain killers for her and other patients.
TRYING TO LEAVE
She tried to leave Ukraine in late October, 2009, with her daughter Agnes R. Bos, the co-founder of Christian online news agency BosNewsLife, to seek medical care in Hungary where hospitals are closer to European Union standards.
But Ukrainian border guards took away Milchevich's Ukrainian passport citing "a court decision" about paying a controversial fine to a businessman with links to the local mayor who she had criticized for involvement in corruption cases.
Hungarian officials were monitoring the situation as she had a permanent Hungarian residence permit but were unable to prevent her death.
Ukraine, which seeks membership of the European Union, has also come under mounting criticism over the detention of several opposition leaders, including former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko, and ongoing financial wrongdoing.
On Friday the EU reportedly said it would call back the 70 million euro ($100 million) it allocated for reforms in Ukraine's state sector citing concerns over transparency and the politicization of the system under recent laws adopted by allies of President Viktor Yanukovich.
(As part of its extended coverage, Budapest-based BosNewsLife is keeping a close eye on general news developments impacting the Church and/or compassionate professionals, especially regarding faith, freedom of expression, and religious and ethnic groups in especially (former) Communist countries and other autocratic states).
(BosNewsLife, the first truly independent news agency covering persecuted Christians, is 'Breaking the News for Compassionate Professionals' since 2004).
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