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Aldis Cilinskis in Prague

  • Where: Montmartre Gallery
  • When: August 21, 2013, 19:00 – 21:00

Meeting with Aldis Cilinskis, a Latvian man who for his protests against the occupation of Czechoslovakia in 1968 spent four years in Soviet psychiatric facilities. The meeting has been organised by the Václav Havel Library and the Institute for the Study of Totalitarian Regimes. Aldis Cilinskis’s visit is taking places under the auspices of the Latvian Embassy in Prague.

Aldis Cilinskis

Aldis Cilinskis was born in Riga in 1947. He wrote 20 signs in Russian and Latvian against the occupation of Czechoslovakia (“Glory to Dubček”, “Soviet occupiers out of Czechoslovakia”, etc.) between August 1968 and May 1969.

He also poured paint over election posters before district elections in March 1969 and the following month covered a statue of a Soviet soldier in a park in red paint.

After his arrest in June 1969 he spent two months in KGB investigative custody. He was later sentenced in his absence and without the chance to defend himself to an open-ended spell in a psychiatric “clinic”. Soviet agencies misused psychiatry as a means of persecuting dissidents and other inconvenient persons, with the alleged “patients” sometimes given dangerous substances against their will.

Cilinskis spent a year in the central prison hospital in Riga before being transferred to Leningrad’s Special Psychiatric Clinic, which was operated by the Interior Ministry. There he met Viktor Fajnberg, who had taken part in demonstrations on Red Square.

In September 1971 he was sent back to the central prison hospital in Riga, from where a court allowed him to be transferred to a regular psychiatric clinic in autumn 1972. He was released from there in May 1973. He worked as a labourer in a leather goods factory and a print shop and did not become involved with other protests or the dissident movement. After 1991 he worked as a security guard. He is now retired.

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