The Soviet press on the Red Square demonstrators’ trial, October 1968 (4.2)

<<No 4 : 31 October 1968>>

On 10 October 1968 the following official announcement appeared in the papers Moskovskaya pravda [Moscow pravda] and Vechernyaya Moskva [Evening Moscow] [note 1]


“On 9 October the criminal trial began in Moscow of K. I. Babitsky, L. I. Bogoraz-Brukhman, V. N. Delaunay, V. A. Dremlyuga and P. M. Litvinov, accused of violating public order in Red Square, Moscow, on 25 August this year.”

On 12 October two articles on the trial were published: “Aiming for a sensation” by N. Bardin appeared in Moskovskaya pravda; A. Smirnov’s “They got their deserts” in Vechernyaya Moskva.

The Place of Proclamation, Red Square (Moscow)

Like the official announcement the articles mention, in the first place, only one charge: violating public order: i.e. prosecution under Article 190-3.

Secondly, even this ‘violation’ is not described, and nowhere is it stated that this was a protest demonstration against the intervention of Soviet troops in Czechoslovakia. Instead, the writers of these articles, not shrinking from direct libel, give ‘character-sketches’ of the accused aimed at compromising them in the eyes of the reader. It was precisely this kind of ‘information’ that Larissa Bogoraz had in mind when she said in her closing speech on 11 October,

“I have no doubt that public opinion will approve the verdict. Public opinion will approve of three years’ exile for a talented scholar and three years in the camps for a young poet, first because we shall be depicted as parasites, renegades and purveyors of a hostile ideology, and second because, if people appear whose opinion differs from that of the ‘public’ and who have the audacity to speak out, they will soon end up here.” (She points to the dock.)

According to unconfirmed rumours, the correspondents of two other Soviet papers who were present at the trial refused to write the articles required of them.



Within a fortnight the KGB, together with the MVD and USSR Procurator-General, reported to the Politburo about the incident on Red Square (8 September 1968, 2102-A). Thereafter the Committee helped plan the forthcoming trial.

[1] Writing two months after the demonstration, and several weeks after the trial, the Chronicle mentions reports in two Moscow newspapers. There were no responses from Pravda, Izvestiya or other big-circulation national dailies. The aim was to localise and play down the event, obscuring its significance.