The trial of Gomer Baev, April 1969 (7.1)

«No 7 : 30 April 1969»

On 23-24 and 28-29 April the trial was held in Simferopol of the Crimean Tartar, Gomer Baev. An engineer, Baev was accused of distributing “deliberate fabrications defaming the Soviet State and social order” (Article 187-1 of the Ukrainian SSR Criminal Code, equivalent to Article 190-1 of the RSFSR Code). The evidence for the prosecution was: several letters from Crimean Tartars to official departments, unsigned but allegedly distributed by Baev; one of the Crimean Tartar information bulletins, copied out by Baev into a notebook, an action designated as “distribution” because, according to a witness’s evidence, Baev read out something from some notebook at a meeting; letters written by Baev himself about the position of the Crimean Tartars. In connection with the last mentioned, it is extremely interesting how one of these letters became involved in the trial.

A senior research worker at the Institute of Marxism-Leninism, Senichkina, a Party member, published an article on the nationalities question in which she wrote that the nationalities question in the USSR had been completely solved. Gomer Baev wrote a private letter to Senichkina in which he asked whether she considered the Crimean Tartar question solved as well, and if so, he asked her to explain why he, Gomer Baev, had been sacked from his job, turned out of the hostel and advised to leave the Crimea. Instead of replying, Senichkina sent the letter to the KGB as it “contained provocative questions”.

The judge A. A. Avramenko presided over the proceedings, the prosecution case was argued by the procurator Terentyev, and the lawyer N. A. Monakhov defended the accused. The trial was conducted correctly: those who had in fact come to the trial were present in the courtroom instead of a specially chosen audience, as is common in Moscow.

Elkhov, the head of the Simferopol Visa and Registration Office, a witness, confirmed that it was virtually impossible for Crimean Tartars to be registered for residence in the Crimea. The same was said by the senior engineer of a state farm where a work-gang of Crimean Tartars (including Baev) had been employed and immediately dismissed when their identity was discovered. The procurator explained that this was so because they lacked specialized knowledge, but the engineer confirmed that the work-gang had the necessary qualifications, that the state farm was still in need of workers – up to a hundred, and that the state farm could provide them with accommodation. To the lawyer’s question: “And if a similar work-gang were to come to you now, would you employ them?” the engineer quite frankly answered: “But they won’t be given residence permits!”

The procurator, having taken into account the defendant’s hard-working way of life and the absence of any previous conviction, pointed out that the defendant had not pleaded guilty and had not recanted and therefore represented a danger for society. The procurator demanded that Gomer Baev be given three years in a labour camp, i.e. the maximum under that Article.

The defence lawyer made no reference to the contents of those documents which Baev denied having helped to compile and distribute, – and he convincingly showed that his client was speaking the truth. As regards the documents which Baev had compiled, the defence lawyer adopted the following line: the facts, set out in the documents, are indisputable; strongly-worded phrases – the product of the emotions not the mind – are to be found, but they cannot be called slanderous. The defence lawyer asked the court to acquit Baev, there being no basis for a criminal charge.

Gomer Baev in his final speech described the deportation of his people from the Crimea, the way they starved to. death in exile, and their struggle for the restoration of their national rights.

The court found Gomer Baev guilty according to Article 187-1 of the Ukrainian Criminal Code and sentenced him to two years in a labour camp.