MOSCOW (Feb. 27)
A Russian court has ordered that a student who stabbed a Moscow synagogue official last July be sent to a psychiatric clinic after it found him not guilty because he is legally insane.
In making its ruling on Nikita Krivchun for his attack on Leopold Kaimovsky, the court rejected the results of two previous psychiatric tests, which Krivchun passed.
Instead, the court based its decision on the results of a commission associated with the Serbsky Institute.
The institute, notorious during the Soviet era for concocting “psychiatric diagonses” of Jewish activists and other dissidents, found Krivchun mentally ill, saying he suffered from “paranoia with homicidal tendencies.” Kaimovsky’s lawyers agreed with this diagnosis.
An official with the Union of Councils for Soviet Jews criticized the decision, especially because Krivchun had passed the two previous tests.
“I don’t understand why” Krivchun “was not sent to prison for attempted murder,” said Micah Naftalin of the Union of Councils for Soviet Jews, adding that the decision “may represent a pattern of denial by some Russian leaders that anti-Semitism is a serious problem in their country.”
But Lev Krichevsky, the director of the Moscow office of the Anti-Defamation League, says the diagnosis was correct.
“Krivchun is most probably really mentally disturbed to some degree,” said Krichevsky. But his actions were triggered by the current atmosphere in Moscow, which is full of “ethnic hatred and xenophobia,” he said.