24.4 The Hunger Strike of Fainberg and Borisov

No 24 : 5 March 1972

In the Leningrad psychiatric prison-hospital the plight of Victor Fainberg and Vladimir Borisov, who declared a second hunger strike on 26 December 1971 (CCE 23.//), has sharply deteriorated.

On 3 January Fainberg began to be given injections of aminazin [similar to chlorpromazine]; he attempted to commit suicide, whereupon an observation post was set up in his cell and manned round the clock. Despite forcible feeding he lost twelve kilograms in weight, and since he in any case suffers from thyrotoxicosis this has seriously aggravated his state of health. He is not receiving the medical attention he needs. Books and writing requisites have been taken away from him, and he is not allowed to be visited by his relatives or to correspond with them.

Fainberg and Borisov have been totally isolated from each other. Borisov too has begun to be given injections of aminazin, and he has also been deprived of books, visits and correspondence. After the appeal to world public opinion signed by Fainberg and Borisov [CCE 19.//] had reached the West, the regime for all the patients in the hospital took a turn for the worse.

On 14 January relatives of Fainberg and Borisov sent a telegram to Petrovsky, the USSR Minister of Health, and Shchelokov, Minister of Internal Affairs. They received no reply.

On 21 January the prison governor saw Fainberg’s relatives for ten minutes. He admitted that a hunger strike was taking place (this was the first official admission of the fact), but said that Fainberg was in good health and that his weight had increased by 150 grams. However, he refused them permission to visit or correspond with Fainberg.

The hunger strike of Fainberg and Borisov in the Leningrad Special Psychiatric Hospital was supported by [fellow prisoner] Sergei Turtov.

On 21 February 1972 V. Fainberg and V. Borisov were transferred to the Serbsky Institute of Forensic Psychiatry in Moscow for examination. There they continued their hunger strike. On 28 February relatives of Fainberg and Borisov were allowed to visit them. By this time Fainberg’s state of health was giving serious cause for alarm. He had lost nineteen kilograms.

On 29 February Fainberg and Borisov ended their hunger strike. It had lasted two months and two days.