Orthodox America

The Cry of the New Martyrs Mikhail Bombin  


     A few months ago The Samizdat Bulletin (April 1986) reported the case of Nikolai Kryuchkov who was sent last year in a psychiatric hospital for wanting to emigrate to America. Kryuchkov was diagnosed as "psycho-pathologically schizophrenic" and prescribed "treatment" with haloperidol injections. "By the end of the week," he writes, "I was walking stiff-legged, with my hands spread wide. The 'nurses' kept repeating: 'Just fall into our hands--you come here as an intelligent human being and leave an idiot. We know how to achieve this.'"

    There is no doubt that the threat of psychiatric confinement represents a formidable weapon in the hands of its abusers. This threat was recently used against 35 year-old Mikhail Bombin, an Orthodox Christian and member of the choir at the Church of the Protection in Riga, who was sent to the Serbsky Institut e in January of this year after numerous interrogations by the KGB.

    Exactly what provoked the authorities to target Bombin at this time is hard to determine. On November 13,1984, while en route to Moscow by train, he was detained by KGB officials who searched him and confiscated certain publications including a copy of the Russian Orthodox journal Vestnik (published in Paris), a prayer book and various personal papers. Two months later, on the Feast of Nativity, Bombin was summoned to the Prosecutor's Office in Riga and charged, on the basis of "the train incident," with "slandering the Soviet state ." A search at the Protection Church and questioning of Bombin's friends as witnesses (to what? one might ask) were conducted before Bombin was handed a formal indictment on December 13, charging him with distribution of "knowingly false fabrications, defaming the Soviet state and social order." Four religious books served as evidence; among them: My Life in Christ by St. John of Kronstadt and Our Hope by Fr. Dimitri Dudko.

     In mid-December, Bombin was called to face a psychiatric commission in Riga. The paneI met on January 3 and three days later Bombin was discharged. However. on January 15 he was again summoned to the procuracy and informed that he was being directed to the Serbsky Institute for an "expert evaluation.'' There he was at length deemed "responsible" and sent back to Riga to prison. He was to have stood trial on April 17. No further developments are known to us at this time. Bombin has a wife, Alia, and a 10-month daughter, Vera.

(Sources: "Samizdat Bulletin," March, 1986; and KNS 3/4/86)

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