Russky Newsweek publishes To Divorce Driving Mad material with comments of a lawyer of S&K Vertical law firm

11 August 2010

Wishing to get divorced in the most profitable way, wealthy men more and more often approach not a lawyer but a mental specialist.

After the birth of her second baby Tatiana Antonyuk weighed 45 kg being 174 cm tall. In a year after the labor the husband persuaded her to have a holiday with sisters and bought a tour to Spain. While Tatiana had holiday at the sea, Sergey filed an application with the court to declare her legally incapable and the next day, a petition for divorce and residence order determining that the children should live with their father. Tatiana tried to find a job, but her husband sent results of examination to potential employer. 35-year old physician, Sergey Antonyuk appeared to have a peculiar idea of medical secrecy. He informed relatives, neighbors, colleagues of Tatiana’s parents and even journalist of Newsweek that his ex-wife had a “psychiatric diagnosis”. “My ex-wife has mental problems, a diagnosis; in general, she does not get the situation very well,” professor Antonyuk, Doctor of Medicine, stated first. Then he threatened that he would file a suit against the magazine if “at least one bad word about him appears”.

According to the statistics, in case of divorce children are left with father in 20% of cases. Though there should be solid grounds for it: mother does not care about children, boozes, does drugs or is mad, Georgy Tyurin from Ottsy i Deti association says. “If the father has money and contacts, business and property, in these latter days the mother of children may easily find herself in a mental hospital. Or on the eve of the court session doubts are suddenly cast upon her mental health, and kids are left with the father only on this ground,” Lyubov Vinogradova from the Independent Psychiatric Association of Russia notes

According to the Independent Psychiatric Association, such cases become more and more widespread, and it is not only about love for children. In case of a divorce they are entitled to alimony payments and ex-wife has a right to half of property earned during the marriage. However, considering interests of the minor, according to the Family Code, this share may be increased. If the children live with the father and the mother is supposed to have mental problems, material risks decrease. “In practice, in this case ex-wife is virtually deprived of an opportunity to protect her interests upon division of property,” Svetlana Khaustova, family lawyer, explains. “And efforts of ex-spouse can make her share close to nothing.”


Mother of three daughters, resident of Moscow, Irina K. learnt from a summon that she is off her nut and it is necessary to deprive her of legal capacity. It emerged that her wealthy husband went to the nearest psychoneurologic dispensary and complained: saying that his wife “went off head”, is a member of a religious sect and does not do anything else. A physician felt sorry for a poor husband and filed an application with the court even without examination of the patient. At the same time the spouse wished to get divorced and to keep the kids. It emerged that title to one of private houses was registered for the elder daughter. Thus, the husband decided to kill two birds with one stone: both to get rid of annoying wife and not to lose the property. “Irina was examined, and physicians did not find any signs of a mental disease,” Natalia Medved, her lawyer, says. She was not deprived of legal capacity and kids were left with her, but she had to leave the house. Irina has no doubt that “otherwise, the husband would come up with something else.”

Millionaire Vladimir Savelyev put his ex-wife Marianna, with whom he had lived for ten years, together with her mother in a nut house. Hospital attendants tied up the women in front of the kids’ eyes, and the court passed a default judgement on involuntary hospitalization. According to the husband, Marianna practiced obeah and ran naked on the roof at night. Both women were diagnosed with “paranoid schizophrenia”. They were soon discharged from the mental hospital with a new diagnosis: “disease none”. However, Marianna saw her children only in eight months after Vladimir Putin intervened in her destiny. Her story is more like a fairytale: during the first performance of 12 movie she came up to Nikita Mikhalkov, movie director, told him about everything and asked to hand a letter over to Putin. Mikhalkov fulfilled the request. Now the prosecutor’s office and the Ministry of Internal Affairs deals with the case of Savelyev and mental specialists that “believed” him. Last year Vladimir Kurenkov, district mental physician, and Sergey Shcherbakov, physician of psychiatric emergency service, were adjudged guilty of unlawful commitment to a mental hospital (Article 128 of the Criminal Code provides for up to seven years imprisonment), and in seven months they were released from a pre-trial detention center, Natalia Gorfinkel, lawyer of the physicians, says. Savelyev was declared crime initiator. He is still on the wanted list, and three children live with the mother.

Happy ending is not visible yet in the story of Anna Astanina who for ten years lived in a civil marriage with Vadim Levin, former first deputy chairman of VTB, and gave birth to their two children. In December 2008 Anna was forcedly put in Saint Petersburg mental hospital No. 6 from which she was discharged only two weeks later. While she was given injections of psychotropic substances, her four-year old daughter Masha disappeared from the apartment together with a nanny. Then – a classic story. Opinion of mental specialists was added to the case of children, and Primorsky District court resolved that it would be better for them to live with their father. “Mental physicians of mental hospital No. 6 are known to provide contract expert opinions more frequently than others,” Roman Chorny from Saint Petersburg Commission on Human Rights says. “We usually deal with property which one attempts to take away with the help of unprincipled physicians. However, at court the patient is rarely recognized to be right considering its complaint to be a manifestation of disease.”

Anna Astanina grew up in a professorial family and graduated from two colleges having obtained diplomas with honors. In the morning she delivered lectures in the institute in Moscow, and in the evening she arrived in Saint Petersburg – a companion of Levin asked her to come allegedly to reach agreement on kids and money. “In Aragvi restaurant where we met there were no guests except for us. My hands were wrung and about a liter of vodka was poured in my throat,” Astanina reports. She regained consciousness already in the mental hospital. Saint Petersburg physicians called her story “crazy”, behavior “pathological”, and disposition “paranoid”. As a result the following diagnosis was made: “acute schizoid psychotic disorder”. Later at court the physicians claimed that they managed to cure this very serious disease in two weeks. “It is an unprecedented case in the psychiatrics when experts actually distorted cause and effect relations and misled the court. In the period of involuntary hospitalization Astanina did not suffer from any disease and did not need mental health services.” This conclusion was made by experts of the Center named after Serbsky and specialists of Moscow Scientific Research Institute of Psychiatrics after they examined Anna and studied her case. Though, the prosecutor’s office have denied initiation of a criminal case against the companion of Levin who put her in the mental hospital already 16 times, Victoria Ishchenko, lawyer of Astanina, says; and last week the action against physicians of mental hospital No. 6 was returned to the cassation for new consideration.

Fyodor, elder son of Anna, is already 13 years old, and it is hard to forbid him to communicate with his mother. As for Masha, over one and a half year she saw her only once. “A month ago Levin allowed me to talk with her for 40 minutes in the presence of security guards and the nanny,” Astanina recalls with tears in her eyes. Her ex-husband has a lot of property abroad, a private plane, and Anna does not even know where her children live and who cares about them. The banker obtained a judicial decision, and now he does not even need consent of their mother when he takes children abroad. Vadim Levin refused to make comments for Newsweek.


Tatiana Antonyuk grew up in a large family in Kaluga, finished the school with a gold medal, and entered Moscow Pedagogical University. On holiday she found a temporary job in a Japanese restaurant where she met her future husband Sergey. She was 18 year old, he was 28. Sergey had already defended a doctorate thesis, and worked in the Eye Microsurgery Center of OAO (Open Joint-Stock Company) Gazprom headed by his father, Vladimir Antonyuk. In a year Tatiana and Sergey got married. Soon their son Vova was born.

Several years later the Antonyuks, father and son, decided to open their private ophthalmological clinic in Bryansk, and the young couple moved there. A new life started for Sergey: clinic commercial was broadcast on TV, local journalists had interviews with him. Tatiana learnt that her husband had relations with women on the side, when she was eight month pregnant – she came to find out his passionate correspondence on Odnoklassniki website. Sergey did not deny anything. Tatiana recalls his words: “Everybody lives like that, and you should get used to it.” Her mother-in-law also recommended to reconcile herself to her lot and to remember who she was and who she became – wife of a big man, next to local oligarch. Due to stress Tatiana had premature delivery.

The woman started to suffer from a classic post-natal depression, Natalia Spiridonova, mental physician, notes. Tatiana was sharply losing weight, however, she was the only who took care of kids. Then Sergey decided that only mental physician in Bryansk oblast hospital whom he knew should cure depression of his wife. Having talked to the woman for several minutes, doctor Alexandr Shcherbakov prescribed a strong neuroleptic, rispolept, in a dosage which was six time higher than the norm for her weight. Next day after taking the drug Tatiana turned out to be under IV in a hospital – she was brought back to life with difficulty. Moscow physicians prescribed absolutely different drugs, but the husband took her from the hospital and led her to Olga Seravina, another mental physician he knew. She prescribed new drugs which made Tatiana feel only worse.

Tatiana started talking with the husband of divorce, but a couple of days later she turned out to be in a hospital again – this time it was an infectious diseases hospital. Next day the husband visited her and brought a bag of drugs in which there were very strong preparations. In an hour officers of Bryansk narco police suddenly came to the ward to search it. Later it was found out that the mother-in-law wrote an application against her. No criminal case against Tatiana was initiated, but her old grandmother was convicted – according to the theory of the investigation, she could provide the granddaughter with super potent drugs.

After that Tatiana took her little daughter Masha and went to parents to Kaluga. Parents of the husband did not let her to take son Vova. Then the husband started to take active actions to make it up with her – persuaded her to go to Spain to take it easy, and meanwhile he filed an application with the court.

In the absence of Tatiana, judge of Sovetsky District court set her examination in Bryansk hospital where doctor Shcherbakov worked. Experts made a rather harmless diagnosis for her. They did not identify any abnormalities, but noted in the opinion that “disorder may pose a hazard to her child.” As a result, Tatiana was not deprived of legal capacity. However, this expert opinion was added to another file – relating to children.

Tatiana obtained opinion of independent Moscow and Kaluga mental physicians that she got completely out of depression, can raise children and does not pose a hazard to them. However, Bryansk court refused to perform repeated examination. Children were left with the farther. Tatiana appealed the judgement, but the court did not grant a stay of execution. Kaluga bailiffs stated that they did not know how to execute it: if the girl does not go to the farther, they won’t be able to use force. Then Sergey pulled the girl from the mother’s hands himself near children’s out-patient hospital in Kaluga. Now, although Tatiana keeps appealing judgements, she pays alimony to ex-husband-“oligarch” – he filed an action to recover alimony from the ex-wife to support two kids. Sergey Antonyuk also tries to recover all his expenses for services of Moscow lawyer from the ex-wife.

When this story became known to the administration of the commissioner for human rights of the President of the Russian Federation, it was said to Newsweek that Tatiana would be supported in the Supreme Court as “these are blatant infringements of rights of the mother and the children.” Independent mental physicians are also for her. “Sergey Antonyuk terrorized his wife so much that it is incredible how she still holds on,” Lyubov Vinogradova from the Independent Psychiatric Association says. “ Moreover, being a physician, Antonyuk disclosed her diagnosis. ” Vinogradova has already prepared complaint against him as a medical professional disclosing medical secrecy to be filed with the out-patient hospital of Gazprom where he works and with the Department of Ophthalmology in Federal State Institution National Medico-Surgical Center named after N.I. Pirogov of Roszdrav where he delivers lectures from time to time.

Though, Sergey Antonyuk is sure that he has nothing to be afraid of. “She (Tatiana) has already lost everything. May this crazy woman use her brains and reconcile herself to her lot,” he said to Newsweek.

Elizaveta Maetnaya

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