News in brief, June 1969 (8.14)

«No 8 : 30 June 1969»


In mid-May 1969, workers at the Kiev Hydroelectric Station in the village of Beryozka met to discuss the housing problem: many of them are even now still living in prefabricated huts and railway coaches despite the authorities’ promises to provide housing. The workers declared that they no longer believed the local authorities, and decided to write to the Central Committee of the Communist Party.

After their meeting, the workers marched off with banners carrying slogans like:  “All power to the Soviets!” KGB men drove up in veterinary cars and were greeted with shouts of “What d’you think we are? Dogs?!” Remonstrating with the crowd, the KGB men tried to whip up feelings of “class hatred” towards one of the active participants in the affair, retired Major Ivan A. Grishchuk [Hryshchuk] , by pointing out that he was on a good pension, so what had he got to kick up a fuss about!? Grishchuk agreed that his pension really was undeservedly large-indeed for two years already he had been donating it to a children’s home. Moreover he earned his living by honest labour, unlike the KGB men.

The next day there was an official meeting at which some of the speakers tried to blacken Grishchuk, but by the time they left the platform they had been literally spat upon by the workers. The workers sent a delegation to Moscow with a letter signed by about 600 people on their housing problem. At the end of June Ivan Grishchuk was arrested in Moscow.

The workers wrote a new letter, this time demanding his release as well. Just before his arrest on 2 June, there appear in the paper Evening Kiev a feuilleton entitled “Khlestakov’s Double”, by I. Pereyaslavsky. The usual type of libellous accusations are levelled at Grishchuk – of course, he’s a drunkard, and he persistently refuses to pay alimony; then doubts are cast in a hinting way on his part; in the Great Patriotic War and his behaviour in a fascist concentration camp. The feuilletonist writes that the delegation – which consists of some “neighbours” (not a word about the hydroelectric workers) – is drinking in Moscow restaurants on the 900 roubles it has collected from certain gullible people.


Ten people have sent a letter to the World Conference of Communist and Workers’ Parties. They are: Genrikh Altunyan (engineer and communist); Zinaida Grigorenko (pensioner and communist); Ilya Gabai (teacher, at present in a Tashkent prison cell); Reshat Dzhemilev (worker, Krasnodar Region); Irina Kostyorina (office worker); Anatoly Levitin-Krasnov (religious writer); Leonid Petrovsky (historian and communist); Sergei Pisarev (pensioner and communist); Leonid Plyushch (mathematician, Kiev); Pyotr Yakir (historian).

The letter speaks of the sinister facts of re-Stalinisation in our country: the political trials, the general persecution of dissenters, the attempts to rehabilitate Stalin, the increasing influence in the party leadership of people whose aim is to return to the Stalinist past. Appealing to the representatives of the communist parties, the authors of the letter ask:  “Can it be that such an obvious restoration of Stalinism in our country, which is at the helm of the communist movement, fails to arouse your anxiety?”

The letter was sent to the Presidium of the conference, and copies were handed personally to delegates of the Italian and British Communist Parties, and also to other parties represented at the conference.


On 12th June 1969, Boris Talantov was arrested in the town of Kirov. He is a 66-year-old teacher of mathematics, who for many years has been exposing the illegal treatment of the church, and the connivance in this of church leaders. Talantov has been charged under Article 190 of the Russian Criminal Code. The inquiry is being conducted by the Kirov Region Procuracy, under senior investigator Boyarinov.


In Dnepropetrovsk in mid-June of this year the poet I. Sokulsky was arrested. He had previously been dismissed from his job for political reasons. It is not yet known what the charge is.


In May of this year Bergel [Berger], Sergei Braun (son of the poet Nikolai Braun) and Vodopyanov were arrested in Leningrad, evidently in connection with the distribution of samizdat works.


Yury Gendler and Lev Kvachevsky, who were charged under Article 70 of the Russian Criminal Code, have still not been sent to camps. They are being held in Leningrad interrogation cells, as witnesses in a certain “polytechnicians affair” about which the Chronicle has no information [CCE 9.10, item 13].


According to unconfirmed rumours, a number of officers of the Baltic Fleet have been arrested in Tallinn, Leningrad and Kaliningrad. Rumours suggest that the arrests were made in connection with the distribution of a letter by Alexeyev, addressed to the citizens of the Soviet Union, about the invasion of Czechoslovakia [see CCE issues No 10.5 and No 11.5].


In June Yury Levin was arrested in Leningrad. He is a senior technician at the Experimental Research Institute for the Mechanical Processing of Mineral Resources. In the past he served an 8-year term under Article 58  of the Russian Criminal Code, the present Article 70. Now he is to be tried under Article 70 for sending abroad letters containing sharp criticisms of Soviet policy towards Czechoslovakia. On 5th June he was summoned to a Party activists’ meeting, where his opinions came under scrutiny. His answers to the questions put to him were all noted down, and the party activists’ group passed the record on to the Procuracy with a request that an action be brought against him.


On 20th June the trial of Sergei Sarychev, a research assistant at the Institute of Oriental Studies, took place in Moscow. He was sentenced to two and a half years in hard-regime camps, under Article 206 para. II (Malicious hooliganism) of the Criminal Code. The essence of the charge was “flagrant violation of public order”, in that Sarychev, having been detained in a state of intoxication in the Metropol restaurant, uttered “hostile political statements” in a police room. The only witnesses of the affair were three policemen.

The attitude of the defence lawyer Korostylev to the case is surprising. He supported the procurator’s application for the case to be given a closed hearing; in the speech for the defence he regarded Sarychev’s guilty as proved, and he approved the classification of his actions under Article 206 para. II, only requesting mitigation of the sentence in view of the absence of any previous convictions. The same lawyer Korostylev acted as defence for P. G. Grigorenko at his trial in 1964, when the decision was made to intern him in a psychiatric hospital, and did not once dispute either the medical diagnosis or the view of the prosecution.


In mid-May there were large-scale ethnic disturbances in a number of places in Uzbekistan. They took the fora of spontaneous meetings and rallies, under the slogan “Russians, get out of Uzbekistan!” The disturbances assumed such a violent character that troops were brought into Tashkent.

About 150 arrests were made in Tashkent and other towns. The majority were allowed to go free, but about 30 people were given 15 days imprisonment for “petty hooliganism”. According to unconfirmed rumours, one of those kept under arrest was Rashidova, the daughter of the First Secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Uzbekistan, and another the son of one of the deputy-chairmen of the Uzbek Council of Ministers.


In Uzbekistan disturbances are also going on among the large Tadzhik population. In Bukhara, where many Tadzhiks live, when their passports were re-issued to them they began to contain the entry “Uzbek” under the heading “Nationality”. But the principle of “divide and rule” didn’t work. The wrath of the Tadzhik population fell not upon the Uzbeks, but on the pioneers of the innovation – the Russian administrators. Their revenge for this insult to their national pride took a terrifying form:  about eight murders were committed. The disturbances are continuing.


The trial of the following [ten] persons begins in Tashkent on 1 July: Reshat Bairamov, Aider Bariyev, Svetlana Akhmetova, Munira Khalilova, Riza Umerov, Ruslan Sminov, Izzet Khairov, Rollan Kadiyev, Ridvan Gafarov and Ismail Yazydzhiev. They are charged under article 190-3 of the RSFSR Criminal Code, and the analogous articles from the Uzbek, Ukrainian and  Tadzhik SSR Criminal Codes (191-4, 187-1, and 203-1, respectively). They are accused of preparing and distributing the following documents on the tragic fate of the Crimean Tatar people and the vicious reprisals taken against them in Central Asia, the Crimea, and Moscow: “Mourning Information No. 69”, “Call the Chirchik Thugs to Account”, “Bloody Sunday”, a series of information bulletins, and other materials.


On 8 June 1969, Niara Khallov and Rustem Veliulayev arrived in Moscow as mandated spokesmen for the Crimean Tatar people, bearing letters addressed to the Central Committee of the Communist Party. They were detained by the police at the Kazan Station (in Moscow) and forcibly sent back to Tashkent.

On 14 June the people’s representative Reshat Usmanov, an armless invalid, was deported from Moscow by the police to his place of residence in Krymsk, in the Krasnodar Region. In Krymsk the police took his passport from him and are now demanding that he leave the territory of the Krasnodar Region.

During these same June days about ten more Crimean Tatar representatives were deported from Moscow. One of them, Mustafa Dzhemilev [Commentary 8], was sent to Gulistan [Uzbekistan] and taken into custody. In protest at this, he went on a hunger strike, and after that he was offered his freedom if he would give a written undertaking not to leave the place. Mustafa refused, and undertook only to report to the authorities immediately they requested. After giving this undertaking he was released.


In June 1969, four Crimean Tatar families who had come to the Belogorsk district in the Crimea Region under the Organised Labour Recruitment [orgnabor] scheme and bought a house with their own money, were forcibly ejected. The Tatars were turned out at night into the rain; half-naked men and women were beaten, wrapped up in towels and bundled into the back of a lorry. Their children were thrown in with them, and also a small part of their belongings.


At the beginning of May Irina Belogorodskaya was sent to Camp 2 of the Mordovian complex:  Institution Zh.Kh. 385/2, Yavas settlement, Potma Station, Mordovian ASSR. Her term expires on 7 August of this year.


In the autumn of 1968 David Naidis, a native of Odessa, formerly a fourth-year correspondence student of the Kiev University Faculty of Journalism, was released from camp. Naidis is the author of an essay on the likelihood of a Stalinist revival, which was not discovered during searches. He was arrested in mid-1967 on charges of printing leaflets on the Jewish question, and sentenced in 1968. Naidis has not been reinstated at the University.


In January 1969 a Leningrad worker Vladimir Gomelsky was released from the camps. His sentence of three years under Article 190-1 of the Russian Criminal Code had been reduced to one and a half years under an amnesty. He had been charged with writing a letter of a critical nature to the 23rd [Party] Congress. In other words, his letter had been written before Article 190-1 became law.

At his trial it was maintained – without the slightest proof – that Gomelsky had been passing the letter around at a later date. The case against Gomelsky was begun after Voinov, Party organiser at the All-Union Experimental Television Research Institute, and the chairman of the local Party Committee Pilts sent a report to the Procuracy which included a distorted version of statements made by Gomelsky: during a debate “On Vulgarity”; at Party activist meetings in the Institute; and at an election campaign rally. These specific accusations were later withdrawn.

After returning from the camps, Gomelsky cannot obtain a residence permit for Leningrad, although residence restrictions do not automatically follow on a charge under Article 190-1. The Leningrad police have four times refused an application sent by the Leningrad Procurator, and turned down three applications from the Procuracy of the RSFSR. For half a year now Gomelsky has been without a permit and without work.


On 12th June 1969 the Leningraders Vadim Gayenko and Sergei Moshkov came out of the Mordovian strict-regime camps, They had served four years under articles 70 and 72 of the Russian Criminal Code for their part in the affair of the journal The Bell and in an illegal Marxist circle. Also released was the Ukrainian Roman Duzhinsky, four years, national movement, article 62 of the Ukrainian Criminal Code.


Vadim Delaunay, one of the 25 August [1968] demonstrators, is now at a camp in Tyumen [West Siberia]. His poem “A Ballad of Unbelief” was discovered during a search. For this poem  Delone was given ten days in the “shizo” – the punishment “isolator” or prison. He and another convict in the “shizo” tried to protect themselves from the terrible cold – one afternoon they let down their bunks and climbed into them in the hope of finding some warmth. For this infringement of the camp regime Vadim  Delone has been forbidden any parcels or visits for half a year.


In the spring of this year a cycle of poems by Yuly Daniel was found during a search [in the camp] and confiscated as being “anti-Soviet”.


At the start of her exile in Chuna, in the Irkutsk Region, Larissa Bogoraz [Daniel] worked as an auxiliary in a sawmill, dragging heavy planks. As a result of this work the gastritis which she had developed, in prison and on the journey, became acute and she was ill for a long time. When the local post office needed a postman the police did not allow it to take her on but promised to get her transferred to some more suitable work at the same sawmill.

As for a long time none of the police even went to the mill, Larissa Bogoraz was dismissed. Then the police announced that they would get her some work, but threatened her with Article 209 of the Russian Criminal Code (Vagrancy and begging) if the work did not suit her. At the present time she is employed at the same sawmill as a scaffolding worker.


Vladimir Dremlyuga, one of the 25 August [1968] demonstrators, is at present in a camp at Murmansk. He was allowed a personal visit from his wife for three days, but at the end of the first, this was cut to one day, Dremlyuga expressed his indignation, and for this he was sent off to the “shizo” [punishment isolator].


In May of this year the senior investigator of the Kharkov KGB, Starkov, presented Alexander Daniel with a confiscation order for the manuscript “Save Our Souls” by Fyodor F. Klimenko. Klimenko is at present under investigation on a charge relating to article 62 of the Ukrainian Criminal Code (equivalent to Article 70 of the Russian Criminal Code). He stated that his manuscript was handed by him to Larissa Bogoraz in 1968, and was now in her Moscow flat.  It is known that in August 1968 three searches were made of Larissa Bogoraz’ flat: at the time of the Marchenko case, of the Belogorodskaya case, and on the evening of 25 August [1968], the day of her arrest.

The investigator made a record that, according to Alexander Daniel, the manuscript was not in the flat.

In June the three participants in the 25 August [1968] demonstration who were exiled — Larissa Bogoraz, Konstantin Babitsky and Pavel Litvinov — were interrogated in connection with the Klimenko case, for which Litvinov was transported under escort to Chita. In spite of the fact that Klimenko’s statements are not only untrue but obviously implausible (for example, according to him Litvinov said to him in Bogoraz’ flat:  “Give me your manuscript, I will publish it abroad and pay you ten thousand roubles”), and neither Litvinov nor Bogoraz even remember ever seeing this person, the investigating organs are apparently treating these barefaced lies seriously. Evidently to certain people exile seems too light a measure, and Klimenko’s statements – whether they be the ravings of a sick man or deliberate inventions – can if necessary serve as the basis for further judicial repression.


At a meeting of the board of the Lvov branch of the Writers’ Union, a propagandist of the Lvov Regional Patty Committee Podolchak expressed his annoyance and alarm at the failure of the board to define the subjects which its writers should treat, and at its lack of control over what they were writing: why had all the writers become addicted to history instead of writing about present-day reality? He was angered that a non-party critic should “dare to point the way” to a poet who was a Party member.


According to unconfirmed rumours [CCE 9.11], Yu. Ivanov, author of the much-discussed book Beware, Zionism! is the pseudonym of the well-known journalist and international commentator Valentin Zorin. Other sources give the name of the well-known Soviet diplomat Valerian Zorin. The book Judaism in its True Colours by M. Klyachko [T. Kichko, tr.], the publication of which caused a big international scandal, has come out in a second edition in the Ukraine.