Doctor Stravinsky is about forty-five, as carefully shaven as an actor, with pleasant but quite piercing eyes and courteous manners. He's the director of the psychiatric hospital - «not a madhouse, but a clinic, where no one will keep you if it's not necessary» - in which some of the protagonists arrive for varoius reasons. The Master and Ivan Nikolayevich Ponyryov, of course, but also Nikanor Ivanovich Bosoy, the «fat man with the purple physionomy, who was mumbling all the time about foreign currency in the ventilation». And in room 120 was brought someone who «was looking for his head the whole time».
When Ivan tells his story of Berlioz and their meeting with the devil, doctor Stravinsky's diagnosis is very clear and easy: «locomotor and speech excitation, delirious interpretations, complex case, it seems. Schizophrenia plus alcoholism, disturbed imagination and hallucinations».
In his discussion with Ivan he says it has no sense of keeping a healthy man in a clinic. So he would check him out immediately, if Ivan tells him that he's normal. Not prove, but merely tell. But then he manipulates the discussion in such way that, one given moment, Ivan's resistance breaks. His own will starts crumbling so to speak. He feels how weak he is and that he needs help… And he stays at the clinic.
The Moscow psychiatrist, an adept of rationalism, has the same name as the composer Igor Fyodorovich Stravinsky (1882-1971), author of Sacre du printemps (The Rite of Spring) (1913), Petrushka (1911) and The Fire Bird (1910). These three writings glorify wild instincts, elate pagan usages and the irrational, all things which doctor Stravinsky is professionally called to meet - let us note that his private hospital fills up at the time of the spring. He is therefore subject, like Berlioz and Rimsky, to the influence of the musician of which he is the homonymous while he should be fighting his themes.
When Bulgakov started writing The Master and Margarita, Grigory Ivanovich Rossolimo (1860-1928) was the director of the hospital of the First Moscow State University - which is, by the way, also the place where bar tender Andrei Fokich Sokov would die of liver cancer. Grigory Rossolimo was in charge of the Laboratory for experimental psychology at the Neurological Institute. Just like the hospital where the master and Ivan arrived, the clinic of the First Moscow State University was used as a prison.
An hospitalisation as a mentally disturbed was a convenient method for the Stalin regime to eliminate «subversive» elements without ceremonies. During the Great Purge, from 1934 to 1940, a mercyless witch hunt against former opposition leaders within the party, but also against heads of state, prime ministers and party leaders of the regional republics, intellectuals, artists, trotskists, right wing adepts and ordinary citizens was held. It was a well-proven method to manipulate people at interrogations in such way - with or without physical violence - that they had to become ill. Or that they at least admitted being ill.
After Stalin these practices were continued. The official psychiatric science in the Soviet Union had invented a specal definition for an «illness» called вялотекущая шизофрения [vyalotekushchaya shizofrenya] or slow progressive schizophrenia, which influenced just someone's social relations, without a trace of any other anomaly. According to a description given by the professors of the Центр социальной и судебной психиатрии им. В.П.Сербского or the Serbsky State Institute for Social and Forensic Psychiatry in Moscow there were, in most cases, ideas created about a struggle for truth and justice by «personalities with a paranoïd structure».
Some professors of this Serbsky Institute, like doctor Danil Romanovich Luntz (1912-1977), occupied high functions in the Ministry of Interior Affairs which administered some psikhushka's. A психушка [psikhushka] was a psychiatric institution with forced treatment. This treatment could be a restriction of the freedom of action, electrical shocks, a whole range of medications with long term side effects like narcotics, tranquilizers and insuline, and violence. The poet, translator and dissident Viktor Aleksandrovich Nekipelov (1928-1989) also mentioned the unnecessary use of medical interventions like lumbar punctures.
One of the first to out the use of psychiatric imprisonment as a measure against political prisoners in the Soviet Union was the dissident Vladimir Konstantinovich Bukovski (°1942). He stayed for 12 years in prisons, labour camps and psikhushkas.
According to the Russian journalist Anna Politkovskaya (1958-2006) the influence of the Serbsky Institute has not yet disappeared completely in today's Russia. In her book Putin's Russia she writes that, in 2002, professor Tamara Pavlova Pechernikova (°1927), who was heading the institute when Brezhnev was in power, and who worked there for 52 years, was called as a whitness-expert for the trial against Yuri Dimitryevich Budanov (1963-2011), a colonel of the Russian army who had raped and murdered the minor Elsa Visayevna Kungayeva (1982-2000) in Chechnya. Despite the efforts of the - very old - professor to declare colonel Budanov iresponsible, the officer was sentenced by the court. «A very courageous decision», Politkovskaya said.
But she continues. In the Soviet era there existed the Kamera (Russian for «chamber») in Moscow, a nickname for the notorious KGB-laboratory no. 12, specialized in the preparation of different kinds of poison. When Boris Yeltsin (1931-2007) came to power, it was closed down. But after a few years it opened again for «commercial» projects. «Russian businessmen who wanted to eliminate competition, made their orders at the laboratory. And when Putin came into power, the lab had a political customer again», Politkovskaya wrote. Yuri Petrovich Shchekochikhin (1950-2003), her deputy Editor-in-Chief was victim of a poisoning of which he died in 2003.
Anna Politkovskaja was one of the few independant journalists in Russia and wrote for the Novaya Gazeta, the only newspaper daring to be critical, and she published some books of which Dirty War is well known. She was often threatened. A Russian army officer was impeached for it in 2003, but he was discharged. On October 7, 2006 she was found dead in an elevator of her apartment in Moscow, she appeared to be shot. The murderer had left the weapon, a revolver with bullits, in the elevator.
In February 2009, three suspects of the murder were brought to justice: Sergey Khadzhikurbanov, a former officer of the Moscow Police Directorate against Organized Crime, and two Chechen brothers Ibrahim Makhmudov and Dzhabrail Makhmudov. A third brother, Rustam Makhmudov, who would have fired the gun, could not be arrested because he was hiding in Belgium. The three accused were acquitted by a jury. After public protests, mainly from western countries, the Russian Supreme Court ordered a new trial. In the spring of 2011, a delegation of Russian investigators was sent to Belgium, where Rustam Makhmudov and his uncle Lom-Ali Gaitukaev were interrogated in the prisons of Dendermonde and Liège and handed over to the Russian authorities.
On December 14, 2012, Dmitry Pavlyuchenko, another former police officer, was sentenced to 11 years of penal colony for his involvement in the murder of Politkovskaya. At the time of the murder, Pavlyuchenko was lieutenant-colonel of the Fourth Division of the Moscow Police Search Unit. He told the investigators that the murder had been organised by Lom-Ali Gaitukaev, on demand of businessman Boris Abramovich Berezovsky (1946-2013). It would specifically have been asked to commit the murder on 7 October, the birthday of Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin (°1952). Gaitukaev would have been commissioned in July 2006, and would then have asked Pavlyuchenko, Khadzhikurbanov and his three cousins to carry it out. But Aleksandr Bastrykin, head of the Investigation Commission, declared that there is no evidence for the involvement of Berezovsky.
Berezovsky, businessman and friend of former Russian President Boris Yeltsin (1931-2007), was convicted in Russia in absentia for embezzlement, fraud and money laundering, and lived in self-imposed exile in the United Kingdom since 2001. He got a refugee status in London and a passport in which he changed his name to Platon Elenin. He remained a staunch critic of Vladimir Putin, and was found dead in his apartment on March 23, 2013, with a noose around the neck.
On May 20, 2014 the three brothers Makhmudov, their uncle Lom-Ali Gaitukaev and Sergey Khadzhikurbanov were eventually found guilty by a jury in Moscow. On June 9, 2014, Lom-Ali Gaitukaev and Rustam Makhmudov were sentenced to life. Sergey Khadzhikurbanov was given 20 years, while the two other Makhmudov brothers were sentenced to 12 and 14 years as accomplices. The five exchanged smiles in their glass-fronted courtroom cage before they all received long sentences.
Vladimir Markin, the spokesman of the Investigative Committee said that the authorities are still looking for the real mastermind behind the murder. «Exhaustive measures are being taken at this time to find the killing’s initiator», he said.
Characters in Moscow
- Archibald Archibaldovich
- Mikhail Aleksandrovich Berlioz
- Ivan Nikolayevich Ponyrov (Homeless)
- Nikanor Ivanovich Bosoy
- Latunsky, Ariman and Lavrovich
- Stepan Bogdanovich Likhodeev (Styopa)
- Baron Meigel
- Aloisy Mogarych
- Maximilian Andreevich Poplavsky
- Alexander Riukhin
- Arkady Appolonovich Sempleyarov
- Andrey Fokich Sokov
- Doctor Stravinsky
- The writers at Griboedov's
- Other characters in Moscow