News in brief, April 1969 (7.13)

«Issue 7 : 30 April 1969»


On 15 April in Riga a student, Ilya Rips, tried to immolate himself. Under the Freedom Obelisk, set up when Latvia was independent, he unfurled a banner with the words FREEDOM FOR CZECHOSLOVAKIA. A hostile crowd gathered around him.  The youth threw off his overcoat, under which was a quilted jacket soaked in petrol, and set fire to himself.   A few sailors rushed up to him, stifled the flames and beat him up.  An ambulance took Ilya Rips off to a special hospital controlled by the KGB.  The burns turned out to be superficial his fingers and chest were burnt, Ilya Reps has now  been transferred to Moscow, but his exact whereabouts are not known.

Ilya Rips is 21; this year he completed his course in mechanics and mathematics at the Latvian university and was given a job in one of the Riga scientific research institutes; he is an outstanding mathematician and was considered “the star of the faculty”.


On one of the first days after the Czechoslovak invasion, Vladimir Karasev, a graduate of the physics faculty at Moscow University, hung a placard up in the hall of the main Moscow University building, and began collecting signatures in protest against the sending of troops into Czechoslovakia. When not long afterwards a few university security men came up, he had managed to collect no more than four signatures.

As Karasev refused to go with the security men of his own accord they threw him to the ground and dragged him off by his arms and legs.  One of the postmen from the post office V-234 who appeared at this point, hit Karasev in the face a few times, shouting abusive political slogans at him:  “Fascist, Bandera-ite” and so on.  At the police station/// they demanded that Karasev write an explanation of the motives for his action, and then sent him off to a mental hospital, where he then spent about three months.  On his discharge from the hospital, Karasev fixed himself up with a job as a stoker in a factory near Moscow.


According to rumours, throe students from the economics faculty of Moscow University have been arrested, the children of highly-placed persons: one of them is the son of the editor of Ekonomicheskaya Gazeta, Rumyantsev. According to the same, as yet unconfirmed, rumours, they were the members of a group of pro-Chinese tendency.


In March 1969, the appeal hearing in the case of Nazarenko and others took place in the Ukrainian Supreme Court.  The defence lawyer’s demanded a redefinition of the offence under Article 187-l instead of Article 62 of the Ukrainian SSR Criminal Code [equivalent, respectively to Articles 190-1 and 70 of Russian Code].  One of the arguments was that the defendants had been adjudged guilty under Article 62 for distributing Chornovil’s book, whereas Chornovil himself had been tried under Article 187-l.  The sentence was left unaltered.


On 15 April 1969 the appeal hearing in the case of Irina Belogorodskaya took place in the RSFSR Supreme court.  The sentence was left unaltered.


On 17 April 1969, the appeal hearing took place in the case of the Leningraders Lev Kvachevsky, Yury Gendler and Anatoly Studenkov.  The sentence was left unaltered.


The head of the literature department of the publishing house “Prosveshchenie” was dismissed from his job because the book, Three Centuries of Russian Poetry, [Moscow, 1968] included poems by Nikolai Gumilyov and Osip Mandelstam.


The publishing house “Molodaya Gvardiya” cut out an essay on the students of the 1920s by Evgenia Ginsburg, author of Into the Whirlwind, from an almanac called Prometheus which was ready for the press.


S. Reznik’s book, Nikolai Vavilov, the original edition of which (as reported in Issue 6, CCE 6.7) was destroyed, is now once again being set up in type. The publishers had already cut from the manuscript all references to the arrest and death of V.I. Vavilov, but the book still contained an account of the discussion with the Lysenkoites.  It can be assumed that the new cuts concern precisely this subject.


At the beginning of 1969 the critic Ivan Dzyuba was summoned to the KGB office at the Ukrainian Council of Ministers, where it was suggested to him that he write “a reply to bourgeois propaganda” with reference to the publication abroad of his book Internationalism or Russification? Dzyuba stated that he considered his work to be Marxist, that he had had nothing to do with its publication and that the very idea of writing a “reply” on receiving information from the hands of the KGB angered him.


A poem by the poet Igor Kalynets was published in the Ukrainian émigré newspaper Khristiansky Golos (The Christian Voice). A meeting was organized to criticize him in the Lvov regional archives where he works, and the secretary of the Lvov Region Party committee, Chugaev, spoke of “the subversive activity” of Kalynets in several speeches to the Lvov intelligentsia. It should be pointed out that the poem -was not of a political nature and, in addition, Kalynets knew nothing about its publication.


In Kharkov people continue to be summoned for questioning as witnesses without being told what cases are concerned, the only reference being to article 187-l of the Ukrainian SSR Criminal Code (which corresponds to Article190-1 of the RSFSR Criminal Code). The questioning is about samizdat. The flat of Genrikh Altunyan was searched for the second time, and a typed copy of The Cancer Ward was confiscated. At the end of March the expulsion of Altunyan from the Party was confirmed at a meeting of the Party Commission of the Main Intelligence Directorate of the High Command, in the presence of a group of generals.


On 22 December 1968 members of the KGB searched the flat of the economist Julius Telesin.  He was forcibly detained in the street and taken home for the search. The search was made in connection with the Burmistrovich case. After a record consisting of only three points had already been signed, the men who had carried out the search, using force, collected a number of books, poems, articles, letters and other papers, and, without making an inventory, took all this away in a briefcase belonging to Telesin.

Apart from the papers a typewriter was also taken; it was returned two weeks later. The witnesses – who according to the law (Article 135 of the RSFSR Code of Criminal Procedure) must be “citizens unassociated with the case” – were from among the people who took part in the detaining of Telesin and actively helped to search him. Ten days later, at a questioning of Telesin at KGB headquarters, the investigator, Captain Solovyov, attempted to make him help in the compilation of an inventory of the property contained in the briefcase:  naturally he refused.  One of the “witnesses” of the previous search also played the same part at this point.

On 4 January 1969 Telesin sent a complaint to Major-General Volkov, the head of the KGB investigation department.  Having received no answer either after the statutory period of a month, or later, Telesin wrote a statement to the U33.R Procuracy, in which he listed all the facts and also pointed out that these members of the KGB – Major Gulyaev, Captains .Solovyov and Pustyakov, Lieutenants Sergeyev and Fokin and witnesses Koval and Khailov – had carried out a blatant seizure of his personal property, an act which is defined as theft under Article 145 of the RSFSR Criminal Code.

At the beginning of March of this year, clearly not wanting to produce a reply in written or documentary form, the KGB rang Telesin up and proposed that he “come to them for a reply”.


In the middle of March 1969, Ernst Makhnovetsky, a driver at the oil depot near the village of Khasyn in Magadan Region [Soviet Far East], was searched; personal papers, diaries, personal correspondence, a draft manuscript his friend V. N. Gusarov, “The desperate son of the Tambov provincial governor” (an essay on Lev Trotsky), and extracts from a satirical story “About Uncle and his Pals” were confiscated. Makhnovetsky was promised that everything not found to be incriminating would be returned after examination, and he was asked to write an explanation of why he had this material, which he did. Efforts were made to hush up the search, but, even before it was over, the inhabitants of the small village found out about it.


In November 1968 a search was made, at Irpen in the Ukraine, of the flat of the translator Grigory Kochura, who at the beginning of 1968 signed the Ukrainian protest letter against illegal trials in Moscow and the Ukraine. Apart from A. D. Sakharov’s essay and some other Ukrainian samizdat works, during the search a leaflet was confiscated which Kochura had never seen until that moment. Those carrying out the search discovered this leaflet with suspicious rapidity:  it was taken out of a book on a shelf. The subject of the search is convinced that the leaflet was planted on him in advance.


In Lvov at the beginning of 1969, Yaroslav Kendzir [b. 1908] was searched “so that the slanderous work of Chornovil might be confiscated”. The search led only to the confiscating of an old edition of a story by the Ukrainian classical [19th century] writer P. Kulish “The Black Council” (Chorna Rada). At the very time of the search a new edition of this book was issued by the “Dnipro” publishing house.


On 28 March 1969 three searches were carried out in Kiev: at the flat of the critic Ivan Svetlichny, at the place of work of his sister Nadezhda Svetlichnaya and at the flat of Natalya Karazin. They visited Svetlichny without a search warrant and asked him to hand over a photocopy of a book by Avtorkhanov, The Technology of Power. Svetlichny said that he had not got it, in fact really supposing it not to be in his flat. But the KGB had more exact information. They demanded a search warrant over the telephone, waited for it, carried out the search and with no difficulty found part of the photocopy. They found the second part of the photocopy in the library where Nadezhda Svetlichnaya works. Natalya Karazin had a typescript of Solzhenitsyn’s novel The First Circle and a typewriter, on which she had begun re-typing the novel, confiscated.


On 14 April 1969 – the anniversary of Vladimir Mayakovsky’s death – some young people gathered in Mayakovsky Square by the poet’s statue. They read poems by Mayakovsky in groups round the statue. From time to time policemen and people in plain clothes pushed their way amongst the groups shouting: “Disperse! Why have you gathered here? It’s not allowed! Read poetry at home!” Then a little later, they simply started to grab quietly the boys reciting poems and haul them out of the crowd. In answer to their bewildered questions, they rudely replied:  “Read Mayakovsky at home! It’s forbidden to form groups!” – “Forbidden by whom?” – “We know by whom!”‘ In one of the groups a young boy was reading an extract from the poem “Vladimir Ilych Lenin”. At the words “Lenin is even now more alive than all the living, our knowledge, strength and weapon” a policeman pounced on him, knocked off his glasses and began twisting his arms. The indignant young people put a stop to this violence and struck up the “International’. A policeman continued to repeat:  “It’s not allowed! Disperse!”

When the crowd at the statue had thinned out, some plain clothes men came up to the remainder and asked them to come to the police headquarters. These people did not bare vigilante armbands, and were asked who they were. One presented his identity card: Yury Vladimirovich Vorobyov, commander of a Komsomol security squad of Frunze district. At the police headquarters, reports on the actions of the detained were made on the basis of the Moscow Soviet’s resolution of 25 June 1966 “On meetings”. The reports state that they disrupted public order. The reports were drawn up by the above-mentioned Vorobyov and a member of the security squad Burakev.