Mental Hospital in Neppovo, Saint-Petersburg Region, 2006.

Neppovo mental hospital is one of the two in the region with its own farm.
The patients of the asylum are to work four hours a day, two in the morning and two in the evening. In the timetable it is called work therapy. But, for many of them life in the asylum turns into hard labour. Patients work in the laundry, help in the canteen, fulfill all kinds of work on the territory, water flowers, tend sheep and cows, clean the pigsty, etc. They are also to do all the work in the living quarters. Patients are to get the money for some of the jobs they do, but they earn very little and the sum depends on the brigadier. They also see and taste very little of the products of their labour, “horns and hoofs”, as they put it themselves. And meat goes to the brigadier, the head of the territory or somebody else. Thus they live deprived of basically all the human rights, having no opportunity to leave even for the weekends to see their relatives and punished by several days in a cell and aminazine for “bad behaviour”, for an attempt to escape or for unwillingness to work.

There are many patients, who have lived for about 20 years there, but there are many young patients as well, who fully realize that they are imprisoned in the hospital for the rest of their lives. They know they are inmates and there is no way out.

One of the young men continues to believe that he will leave the hospital one day, as his grandmother told him that some relatives would take care of him and his brother when she dies.
One of the girls, Luba, who was only 25 years old, told me: “We know nothing of ourselves. They (doctors) know everything of us. And we are just to live, to work and to go to the bathhouse once a week. Free people don’t live like that, do they?”