17.11 Political Prisoners in the Mordovian Camps

No 17 : 30 December 1970


In 1969 Rashid Dinmukhamedov (b. 1929), was sentenced (for the second time) to thirteen years of special-regime corrective-labour camps (post box Leplei, ZhKh-385/10). In December 1969 he was placed in hospital, where he opened his veins. For five hours he was given no medical attention—the duty officer did not call a doctor, referring to the lateness of the hour. Dinmukhamedov died from loss of blood.


Valery Illarionovich Zavertkin, a dentist born in 1914, was arrested on 10 January 1969 and sentenced by the Moscow City Court to fifteen years of special-regime corrective-labour camps for preparing an attempt on the lives of party and government leaders, possessing arms and living on forged documents.

His previous convictions were: in 1933 for taking part in the terrorist organisation RROK ([Russian initials for] the “Emancipation of Russia from the Communists”); he was sentenced to the supreme penalty, but this was commuted to ten years in view of his youth. He escaped from custody. He was caught in 1937 and served his sentence until 1947. In 1952 he was again convicted, this time for anti-Soviet propaganda under article 58-10, para. 1 of the Russian Criminal Code.

His address: post office Leplei, ZhKh-385/10.


Boris Borisovich Zalivako, a priest (b. 1940) in Leningrad, was sentenced in early 1970 by the Uzhgorod [W Ukraine] Regional Court to eight years of strict-regime corrective-labour camps and five years’ exile for attempting to cross the Soviet-Czechoslovak frontier. He is in camp No. 3 (ZhKh-385/3-1).


Yakov Vladimirovich Odobescu, a Moldavian (b. 1900), a bee-keeper at the “Dubosary” state farm, was arrested in July 1967. Investigations were conducted by Captain Zelenyuk and the head of the Moldavian KGB, General Savchenko.

The charge—under Article 67 of the Moldavian Criminal Code (equivalent to Article 70 of the Russian Code) —was drawn up on the basis of a letter sent by Odobescu to: Bodyul, first secretary of the Central Committee of the Moldavian Communist Party; [Ya. S.] Grosul, President of the Moldavian Academy of Sciences; the Moldavian Minister of Agriculture and others. The letter contained a demand to protect Moldavia from russification and a call for the re-unification of Moldavia [annexed from Rumania in 1940] with Socialist Rumania. In addition to this, poetry written by Odobescu which he had sent to [the singer Nikolai] Sulak, people’s artist of the Moldavian republic, was judged to be criminal; and he was also charged with circulating hand-written leaflets (“Moldavia for the Moldavians, for the Russians—Russia”). The Moldavian Supreme Court sentenced Odobescu to seven years of strict-regime corrective-labour camps. He is at present in No. 17-1, the “big” [1] camp. [25. Probably “big” in relation to camp 17a.]


Nikolai Ruban (b. 1940), a resident of Konotop (in the Sumy Region of the Ukraine), was arrested at the end of 1968 and sentenced in 1969 by the Kiev Region Court to five years of special-regime corrective-labour camps for the creation of an organisation “of a nationalist character” (he was the only person to be tried) and for circulating leaflets. He is in camp No. 10.


Albinas Telkenis, a Lithuanian born in 1924, was educated as an agronomist. In 1940 he entered the Komsomol, and after the war helped in the creation of the collective farms. Until his arrest he was a research officer at the Kaunas Botanic Institute. He is the author of a number of articles in the Lithuanian journal Agriculture; his arrest prevented him from defending his Master’s dissertation.

He was arrested on 29 September 1969 and charged under Article 68 of the Lithuanian Criminal Code (equivalent to Article 70 of the Russian Code) with preparing a letter “containing fabrications slandering the policy of the party in the field of agriculture”, with the aim of circulating it. The trial took place on 6 April 1970 behind closed doors (the chairman was Mezenas, the assessors Adomaitis and Kokhanko, the Procurator Bakucionis, defence counsel ///Karcatskas).

According to the defence, Telkenis had carried out the request of an aged neighbour, formerly the chairman of a collective farm, who was unable to write himself (because of his “trembling hands”), and at his dictation draw up an application requesting treatment. The response from the organisation to which the application was sent, in the old mans’ opinion, was feeble. On one occasion he dictated to Telkenis a letter addressed to some high authorities or other, setting out his views on agriculture. That was in 1967. In 1969 the old man died. It turned out that he had not sent off his letter—his relatives found it and took it to the KGB, after which Telkenis was arrested.

The court sentenced Telkenis to three years of strict-regime corrective-labour camps. At present his address is: institution ZhKh 385/17-1.


Pyotr Nikolayevich Tokar, born in 1909, is a “Jehovah’s Witness”. In 1947 he was sentenced under Articles 54-10 and 54-11 (of the old [1927///] Russian Criminal Code) to 25 years of corrective-labour camps. In 1970 he sent a complaint to the Procurator, drawing his attention to the fact that the present Code prescribes a maximum sentence of ten years’ imprisonment for this article. The reply to his complaint was: “Explain to prisoner P. N. Tokar that since he was sentenced in 1947 his complaint cannot be accepted.”