The Gorky Trial of Four was reported in CCE 13.3. It has become known that persons with one connection or another with the convicted men are being persecuted.
Yelena Ponomaryova, an employee of the regional children’s library, is the wife of Sergei Ponomaryov who was sentenced to five years of strict-regime. She has been dismissed for unreliability under Article 47 (c) of the Code of Labour Legislation. She is prohibited from taking up work in her profession. Physical labour has been recommended for purposes of her reform.
Svetlana Pavlenkova, a teacher, is the wife of Vladlen Pavlenkov who was sentenced to seven years’ strict-regime. She has been dismissed on grounds of redundancy, without the right to work in her main profession.
Nadezhda Andreyeva is a girl-friend of the convicted Vladimir Zhiltsov, a fifth-year student in the faculty of history of Gorky University. She has been expelled from the Komsomol and excluded from the University, two weeks before her final examinations. The grounds: failing to inform. She did not inform the authorities at the proper time that Zhiltsov was reading samizdat.
Solomon Leibovich Ratt, 55, is an honoured teacher of the RSFSR and senior tutor of an advanced training institute for teachers. He has been expelled from the Party and dismissed from his post. The charge: inappropriate conduct in court, where he was questioned as a witness.
Victor Babayev, a senior lecturer in the department of general history and Vladimir Fyodorov, a lecturer in the department of Russian literature, have been dismissed from the university for being acquainted with Ponomaryov and Zhiltsov, without the right to teach in any educational establishment. Victor Babayev is already working on a construction site.
Fourteen students in the history and physics faculties of Gorky University (Kholupovich, Gudushin, Alexeyev and others) have been expelled from the Komsomol and from the university for consorting with Zhiltsov when he was a student.
Rumours are circulating in the city that in connection with the Trial of Four the Gorky KGB has drawn up a list of “unreliable” people, consisting of 123 names.
Larissa Artemkina and Elena Rubtsova are staff members of the works newspaper at the “Engine of the Revolution” factory, where Sergei Ponomaryov worked. They have been dismissed from the factory.
Grigory Podyapolsky, geophysicist, a member of the Action Group for the Defence of Human Rights in the USSR, has been dismissed on grounds of redundancy from the Institute of Geophysics.
At the beginning of June Z.S. Paperny, D.Sc. (philological sciences) and senior research officer at the USSR Academy of Sciences’ Institute of World Literature (Moscow), was expelled from the Party. He was accused of writing a parody of Kochetov’s novel What is it you want? The expulsion was carried out by the district Party committee without a decision by his primary Party organisation, in violation of paragraph 10 of the CPSU constitution.
On 21 May, by order of the director B. Suchkov, several research officers were dismissed from the Institute as having reached pensionable age. Among them is the well-known critic and former member of the editorial board of Novy mir A.G. Dementev. It is significant that no dismissal fell on officers who have long since reached pensionable age – like V.O. Pertsov or, for example, Ya. Elsberg (alias Shapirshtein-Lers), the well-known informer and witness at the secret trials of the 1930s and 1940s.
In connection with the case of the group headed by the law-student Oleg Senin (CCE 12.4), more than 60 persons have been expelled from institutes and the university, and also deprived of the right to teach or to work as engineers.
On 17 February 1970 S.I. Soldatov was summoned to A.A. Shishkin, the chairman of the Estonian State Committee for Technical Education who is also a member of the Central Committee of the Estonian Communist Party. Shishkin announced that Soldatov was “a corrupting influence on those with whom he was in contact”, and suggested that he should resign “at his own request”. Soldatov replied: “I regard your suggestion as a repressive act connected with my opinions; I shall not resign.”
On 19 February Order 45-k was issued, releasing the systems engineer Soldatov [CCE 11.5] from his duties with effect from 16 March because of “the abolition of his post”.
On 16 March, after his dismissal, Soldatov filed a civil action with the people’s court of the Central district of Tallinn, demanding the institution of judicial proceedings against A. A. Shishkin for violating: (a) the labour laws (the local trade union committee had not sanctioned the dismissal), and (b) the plaintiff’s civil rights (dismissal for beliefs). Soldatov also demanded reinstatement in his former position.
Two meetings of the local trade union committee were hurriedly held (17 and 18 March). A new order was issued, cancelling Order 45-k as “unlawful” and, finally, on 20 March, a new dismissal order was issued, this time perfectly “lawful”, with the approval of the local trade union committee. All this was in the absence of the plaintiff.
The action was heard on 7 April, Judge E. Vyarv presiding. The defendant Shishkin did not appear because of illness, and sent Alas, his deputy. The plaintiff declared in court that defendant Shishkin, by his non-appearance, was in a cowardly manner avoiding an explanation to the people’s court and those present of what “corrupting” views he, the plaintiff, had been thrown out into the street for possessing. The court found that dismissal on ideological grounds was unproven, that the dismissal had been dictated by the need to improve the machinery of the State, that the State Committee’s violation of the law had been rectified, that the reinstatement of Soldatov was impossible because there was no vacancy, and that the plaintiff should be paid compensation.
Let us note that between the second half of 1968 and April 1970 Soldatov was twice dismissed for his beliefs, the first time from the post of teacher at the Tallinn Polytechnic Institute; two searches of his flat were made; four times he was questioned; and once he was subjected to psychiatric examination (CCE 11.5) on the orders of the KGB.