News in brief, October 1969 (10.15)

«No 10 : 31 October 1969»


On 13 June the poet Ivan Sokulsky, who is about 30 years old, was arrested in Dnepropetrovsk [South-east Ukraine]. He had earlier been dismissed from his job and expelled from Dnepropetrovsk University where he was in his fifth year.

After this he worked as a fireman and then a sailor on the Kiev-Kherson river-steamer. It was on the steamer that he was arrested. Sokulsky is charged with circulating Ukrainian samizdat, and in particular with allowing his typewriter to be used by university students to type out several articles, including the famous letter from the creative youth of Dnepropetrovsk concerning the campaign “of slander in connection with Oles Gonchar’s novel, The Cathedral.


On 20 June the 37 year-old Stepan Bedrilo, a research officer of the Ukrainian Agricultural Academy, was arrested in Kiev. Bedrilo had completed his graduate course and was to have defended his Master’s thesis in the summer. After his arrest he was sent to Lvov. He has been charged under Article 62 of the Ukrainian Criminal Code (equivalent to Article 70 of the Russian Code). The investigation is being conducted by the Lvov KGB under investigator Malykhin.

Bedrilo has been accused of reading Ukrainian samizdat documents, particularly articles on the self-immolation of S. Makukha on 5 November 1968 in Kiev [CCE 6.9, item 2] in protest against the policy of Russification, and on the attempted self-immolation of K. Breslavsky [CCE 8.6] in February 1969.  (The Chronicle reported wrongly the date of Makukha’s self-immolation, and spelt Breslavsky’s name incorrectly). During its investigation, the KGB has been searching energetically for microfilms of material on the position of political prisoners in Mordovia. The house of Bedrilo’s mother and sister, in a village near Lvov, has been searched three times for films, but nothing was found. The mother and sister were questioned. According to rumours, two students of Lvov Agricultural Institute have also been arrested in connection with this case.


In the summer of 1969 Vasily Rybak, a research officer at the Institute of Social Sciences, was arrested in Lvov.

Ten years ago Rybak, a staunch communist, returned to the Soviet Union from America. When he became disillusioned with the nationalities policy pursued in the USSR, Rybak wrote and sent to Pravda an article about linguistic inequality and the forced assimilation of Ukrainians. After this article had been confiscated from someone during a customs inspection at the border, Rybak was arrested. The investigation is being conducted by the Lvov KGB.  A charge has been brought under Article 62 of the Ukrainian Criminal Code.


This spring in Leningrad two graduate students of history at the Herzen Pedagogical Institute were arrested for “divulging material from the special collection”.  The special collection is the department in a library where restricted books were kept and issued only on the application of scientific or other bodies.  One of the students was writing a thesis on “The Gnoseological Roots of Fascism”, and he had been telling his acquaintances about the contents of the books he had been reading in the special collection.  The names of these students, and their fate, are unknown.


On 31 May 1969 police-lieutenant Shary, accompanied by a citizen in plain-clothes, came to Vladimir Borisov‘s flat in the town of Vladimir [Central Russia], and declaring that he had to report to the military recruitment centre, escorted him to a psychiatric hospital [CCE 8.11].  The head of Department 9 of the hospital, Yu. A. Sokolov, gave Borisov injections of Aminazin by force, and reduced him to a state of shock. After he came out of hospital, Vladimir Borisov was summoned to V.I. Buzin at the KGB, who said: “Stop thinking, or we’ll put you away in prison”. A month after this threat Borisov was arrested.


On 2 October in Riga the Latvian Supreme Court examined the case of Ilya Rips [CCE 8.7], for whom compulsory measures of a medical nature had been recommended. The substance of Rips’ actions was as follows: an attempt at self-immolation — with a placard demanding the withdrawal of Soviet troops from Czechoslovakia — which had occurred on 13 April 1969 on freedom Square in Riga. Rips’ actions were classified under Article 65 of the Latvian Criminal Code (equivalent to Article 70 of the Russian Code). The court resolved to order compulsory treatment for Ilya Rips in a psychiatric hospital of the ordinary type. Rips was defended at the trial by the lawyer S. L. Ariya.


In Ternopol [ West Ukraine] this September there was a trial under Article 62 of the Ukrainian Criminal Code [anti-Soviet agitation and propaganda], equivalent to Article 70 of the Russian Code. The accused, numbering about 10, were charged with circulating samizdat writings on the nationalities question, and on the events in Czechoslovakia.


The investigation into the case of Ilya Gabai has been completed, Gabai has been charged with compiling various documents: these include the appeal by himself, [Yuly] Kim and [Pyotr] Yakir, “To public figures in science, literature and the arts in the USSR”, the appeal of Moscow citizens in support of the Crimean Tatars, and others. The lawyer D.I. Kaminskaya submitted a request that the case against Gabai be closed. The petition was rejected.


A new appeal by the Action Group [dated 26 September 1969] was handed in to the United Nations Information Centre in Moscow [Commentary 10] , in connection with the persecution of members of the Group. However, the deputy-director of the UN Information Centre in Moscow, Yevdokimov, did not accept the appeal, as acceptance of the document would be, according to his written statement, “a violation of Point 7 in Article 2 of the UN Charter”.


On 1 September Valentin Moroz was released from Vladimir Prison on the expiry of his term.  He has been sent to Ivano-Frankovsk with a recommendation that he be put under surveillance.


Under the new corrective-labour legislation, prisoners are allowed only two parcels of printed matter per year. Although the new legislation comes into force only from 1 November, all parcels of books sent from the Ukraine and Moscow to camps 19 and 17-a of the Mordovian complex in the summer of this year were returned.


Mikhail Sado, who was convicted in the case of the Social-Christians [CCE 1.6], has been transferred from Camp 3 of the Mordovian complex to Camp 17a; Mordovian ASSR, Czerny post office, institution Zh Kh 385/17a.


The report that Lev Kvachevsky had been transferred from Camp 3 of the Mordovian complex to Camp 17 has not been confirmed.  Kvachevsky is still in Camp 3 and is working in his professional field as a chemical technologist. His address is: Mordovian ASSR, Yavas, institution Zh Kh 385/3.


Vladimir Dremlyuga, who participated in the Red Square demonstration in Moscow on 25 August 1968, has been transferred to Yakutia [Soviet Far East]. He spent three months on the journey. The reason for his transfer: his demand that the camp administration observe the safety regulations relating to prisoners’ working conditions. His address: Yakutskaya ASSR, Lensk, postbox YaD-40/3.


In the town of Kolyvan near Novosibirsk [central Siberia] the Orthodox church has been closed on the pretext of it not conforming with fire safety regulations.

When the believers dug a pond to conform with the fire regulations, the local authorities filled it in again and prohibited church services, despite the fact that permission to hold services had been given by Moscow. Moreover the local authorities tore down the church’s cupolas, killing a five-year-old child in the process. Instead of the church the believers have been given a small chapel which does not satisfy fire safety regulations.


At the end of October P.G. Grigorenko was transferred from Tashkent to Moscow where he has been put in the Institute of Forensic Psychiatry for an in-patient diagnosis.


A number of facts indicate that the reception-rooms of the highest official bodies in Moscow either have an ambulance on permanent duty from the psychiatric first aid service, or are in direct and speedy contact with this service.

In many cases, people who have come to the reception rooms of the CPSU Central Committee, the Council of Ministers, the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet, the All-Union Central Council of Trade Unions, the KGB, and other organisations with complaints, generally of a non-political nature, have not been allowed to put their case, but have been forcibly driven off to Moscow psychiatric hospitals, and then, after a psychiatric diagnosis, to their local hospitals.


On 17 October, Vladimir Gershuni, a bricklayer who was one of the supporters of the Action Group’s appeal to the United Nations, was arrested in Moscow [CCE 11.6]. Not long before his arrest, he had been the subject of a provocation at an underground station: he was detained, his person searched without a search warrant being produced, and then he was allowed to go. The provocation, was directed by some citizens in plain-clothes, whose instructions were carried out by policemen of the “Kievskaya” underground station.

The investigation is being conducted by the Moscow City Procuracy. Chief of the investigating team is senior investigator Gnevkovskaya. She was one of the team of investigators who worked on the case of the Pushkin Square demonstration of 22 January 1967. Gershuni’s relatives were told by Gnevkovskaya that he had been pasting up leaflets in the Baumansky district of Moscow on the night of 17-18 October, but another of his relatives was told that he had been drunk, and was guilty of rowdy behaviour on the street, stopping passing cars, and so he had been detained; in his pockets “there turned out to be provocative literature”. Gershuni has been put in Butyrka prison.  Gershuni was imprisoned before, In the heyday of Stalin’s arbitrary rule.


For certain battalions of the Ministry of Internal Affairs instructions exist about how to disperse demonstrations. This requires a platoon consisting of three units of ten men each, and an armoured carrier. The instructions provide for three course of action:

  • Two grenade throwers, grenades with a depressive gas (code-named “Cherry Blossom”); the officers have pistols loaded with ampoules of the same gas; they advance in two columns, with two officers in front, while behind them there is an armoured carrier, then two columns of soldiers, each column with a grenade-thrower. The columns fan out, cutting a way through the crowd.
  • Dispersal with the help of water-cannons. A vehicle with water-cannons is used, similar to the kind used to put out oil-fires. The crowd is dispersed by streams of water cutting through its ranks.
  • Dispersal by rifle-fire. In this method, shooting at women, children or mental defectives is forbidden.

Special vehicles are always on duty to keep   order in contingencies of this sort, i.e. to prevent mass marches and other forms of demonstrations from taking place.


Konstantin Azadovsky, son of the professor and folklore expert Mark Azadovsky who was imprisoned during the Stalin period, a teacher at the Herzen Pedagogical Institute in Leningrad, a specialist in German studies, a translator of Rilke and other German and Spanish poets, has been prevented from defending his thesis and dismissed from his job “for amoral conduct” — in reality, for his refusal to give testimony useful to the investigating organs in the Slavinsky case.


Alexander Petrov (pseudonym Agatov), the Leningrad poet and author of the words of the song “Dark Night”, from the film The Two Warriors, was convicted in Moscow in February 1969 under Article 70 of the Russian Criminal Code for a book he had written (the title is unknown).


On 11 September there was an appeal hearing in the Russian Supreme Court of the case of Ilya Burmistrovich, convicted under Article 190-1 of the Russian Criminal Code. The composition of the court was as follows: Chairman Ostroukhova, members of the court Lukanov and Timofeyev. The procurator was Babenko, and the defence lawyer Pozdeyev. The sentence was confirmed. In October Ilya Burmistrovich was sent to Krasnoyarsk Region [Siberia].


Valery Lukanin, who was sent to the Kazan Special Psychiatric Hospital, has been charged under Article 70 of the Russian Criminal Code.


At the end of September, at the foot of the Lenin statue on Finland Station Square in Leningrad, an unknown citizen set fire to himself. The Chronicle does not know his name, nor what became of him.