The suicide of ICR Colonel Mikhail Maksimenko surprised many who knew him personally. This was not the case with this man, who played a key role in one of the most notorious corruption scandals among the security forces in recent years. The author of these lines, being a member of the PMC, could be convinced of this, since she repeatedly visited him as part of inspections of the rules for keeping prisoners.
Human rights activists first met Mikhail Maksimenko in July 2016. Then in Lefortovo he was the calmest prisoner - unlike other ICR employees arrested in this case. He did not panic and behaved with dignity, demonstrating complete acceptance of the situation. He said: “It’s better to think less, and do more push-ups, squats, and run.” He looked quite sporty back then.
There was no TV or refrigerator in his cell, and there was nothing on the table except bread and a bowl. And all because the packages were not given to him (the family lives in St. Petersburg).. At the first meeting, he said verbatim: “I had so many shell shocks that I have long forgotten what it’s like when there is no stinging or pinching anywhere. Where did the injuries come from? He served in Chechnya. And then I was in the special forces for 7 years.”
Maksimenko said that it didn’t matter to him what to sleep on or what to eat, and it seemed that it didn’t matter how events would unfold around him. He was sure: no one would touch him, they would not prove his guilt (he probably counted on the help of the head of the Investigative Committee, Alexander Bastrykin).
But literally a month later the situation changed dramatically. I remember that I barely recognized him - I lost 15 kg (from 90 to 75), had difficulty talking and moving. Us. he explained that they were allegedly trying to poison him, so he stopped eating and drinking. Maksimenko did not even have the strength to write a statement. He typed out my last name for several minutes so that I, a member of the PMC, could familiarize myself with his medical record. His words were especially cutting: “Unfortunately, this is happening, and it’s happening to me.” During the conversation (it went on with great difficulty), the head of the internal security department of the Investigative Committee said that it all started with him being taken to investigative activities, where he drank water. He was sure: it contained psychotropic drugs. However, they did not test for substances at Lefortovo, saying that 43-year-old Colonel Maksimenko was most likely exaggerating. In addition, according to them, tests for the content of possible psychotropic drugs in the blood are done with the permission of the investigator. Maksimenko himself, according to him, has since begun to notice strange symptoms: confusion, memory loss, nausea, severe headaches. When I examined his medical record, I was convinced that after that he sought medical help several times. They tried to treat him. At some point, he felt that the therapy was making him even worse and refused to take any medications that were given to him at the medical unit. At the same time, he refused prison food and drink.
I will never forget his plea (and this from a man who just four weeks ago showed that he didn’t need anything and could handle any difficulties): “Help! Can you take me to the hospital? What happened happened. I wouldn't believe it myself. I understand everything, I myself worked in the Investigative Committee, but what is happening here...”
Then we wrote an appeal to the central office of the Federal Penitentiary Service of Russia. On October 17, 2016, Colonel Maksimenko was transferred to a hospital, but not a civilian one, but a prison one, and to a psychiatric hospital (on the territory of Butyrka). Experts expressed the opinion that psychotropic drugs were indeed used on Maksimenko, and he began to have a strong reaction to them (due to concussions). “Perhaps the case with Maksimenko will wean investigators from using prohibited methods of chemical influence for a long time,” said one of the employees of the prison system. In the mental hospital then Maksimenko’s ward-cell... was sealed! Nothing like this has happened before or since. And also near the cell there was a man in uniform who introduced himself simply as his personal (!) security guard.
He was returned from the mental hospital a week later, and he certainly did not feel any better. He could hardly explain that he was given some kind of IV. But the colonel agreed to accept food, which his acquaintances began to give him from outside.
After this, things began to gradually improve for him. And he did not report any more poisoning attempts. But it took a very long time to recover.
I also remember my visit to him at the end of December 2018. At that time, he occupied the worst cell in Lefortovo: cold, dark, shabby walls, no hot water, ventilation did not work (and the colonel smoked a lot, so there was nothing to breathe). Even his mattress was bad. About his plans for the New Year, he said: “I’ll cover myself with a jacket and try to warm up and fall asleep. I asked the administration: since it’s so cold here, to allow my family to give me a sleeping bag. They refused."
All the last years spent in Lefortovo, Maksimenko looked very depressed, asked to be given a cellmate (he was sitting alone). But at the same time, in fact, every time he tried to convey that he would fight again, that is, he would definitely not commit suicide. And he had a lot of problems right up to his transfer to the colony - letters disappeared or were delayed (one letter took exactly a year to reach him!), he was forbidden calls and visits. In the colony, these problems seem to have been resolved. But for some reason Maksimenko chose just such an ending. Or was it chosen for him?