Document Type

Book Chapter

Publication Date



Institutionalisation, Disability Law, Human Rights, European Court of Human Rights


Rusi Stanev, survivor of an intransigent system of guardianship and institutionalisation, victor in a ground breaking disability rights case against Bulgaria at the European Court of Human Rights, my partner in this writing project and (for too short a time) my friend, died on March 9, 2017, before our chapter could be completed. He was 61. Questions have been raised about the appropriateness of the care Rusi received in his final days; at the time of finalising this chapter, a formal inquest into the circumstances of his death had not issued in a decision. But whether or not Rusi Stanev’s death is proven to be connected to specific failings on the part of one or more state-backed authorities, it cannot in any straightforward sense be attributed to “natural causes”. This chapter celebrates, and mourns, Rusi Kosev Stanev’s remarkable life: his rising up despite and against the profound forms of subordination to which he was subjected. It is composed of fragments of Rusi’s writing that he produced through the VOICES project, including in the last weeks before his death, and Sheila’s responses to those fragments. Its subject – our subject -- is Rusi Stanev’s unfinished project: freedom.