News in Brief, December 1970 (17.2)

<<No 17 : 31 December 1970>>


On 4 February 1970 Gunar Berzin (b. 1949, a filing clerk; “Berzins” in Latvian); Laimonis Markant (b. 1951) an inspector of high-voltage equipment (Latvian, “Markants”); and Valery Akk, a filing clerk, were found guilty by the Latvian Supreme Court (the Judge was [A.M.] Niedre, the Procurator Romanova), sitting behind closed doors. The three men were charged with anti-Soviet propaganda and with possessing arms.

During the night of 6-7 November 1969 they distributed 8,000 leaflets in three districts [of Riga] about the domestic and foreign policies of the USSR, Czechoslovakia, Sino-Soviet relations and the nationalities question. The investigation recovered 3,000 leaflets.

Berzin was sentenced to three years, the others to one and a half years, of strict-regime corrective-labour camps.


Algis Statkevicus (b. 1937), a former official of the Sociological Research Bureau in the Ministry of Finance, was arrested in Vilnius on 18 May 1970. He was accused of being the author of the books “A Critique of the Communist Manifesto and “Results of Sociological Research in Lithuania. A. Statkevicus was judged to be of unsound mind, and the verdict of the court was that he be sent for forcible treatment in a psychiatric hospital in mid-November. Searches in connection with his case were made at the homes of a number of people, among them Juozas Tumyalis (the compiler of a collection of poetry by Jurgis Baltrusaitis).


In June 1970 S.F. Yemelyanov, formerly Minister of Internal Affairs of the Azerbaijani SSR, was pardoned by the Presidium of the USSR Supreme Soviet. He had been sentenced in the same case as [Beria’s lieutenant] Bagirov to 25 years imprisonment. Yemelyanov’s case has twice been reconsidered by a court empowered to reduce sentences to fifteen years, but the court did not alter the sentence on either occasion “in view of the gravity of the crimes he committed”.

Of all the “Beria men” sentenced in 1953-4, only [A. S.] Atakashiyev (a lieutenant-general, Yemelyanov’s predecessor as Azerbaijani Minister of Internal Affairs and his deputy until the summer of 1953), [Ya.M.] Broverman, Lanfin, Menshikov and Pachulia are still being held. They are in Dubrovlag Camp 3, where they hold the posts of librarian, storekeeper, etc. They are members of the so-called “Council of the Collective”, headed by the war criminal Malykhin, whose sentence referred inter alia to his especially cruel method of murdering children (smashing their heads against a wall). The remainder have been released or pardoned by the courts.


On 7-8 December the Rostov [-on-Don] Region Court, sitting behind closed doors, heard the case of Pyotr Markovich Egides, Master of philosophical sciences and until the end of 1969 a lecturer at Rostov University. His arrest and indictment under Article 190-1 of the Russian Criminal Code were reported in the Chronicle  (CCE 13.10, item 1, and CCE 14.11, item 2). The chairman of the court was Alexeyev, the prosecutor Zaikin, and Egides was defended by Sarri. P. M. Egides was not himself present in court – a diagnostics commission at the Serbsky Institute had judged him to be of unsound mind.

V. E. Davidovich (professor at Rostov University and deputy secretary of its Party organisation), Kivenko (professor), A. V. Potyomkin (reader at Rostov University) and L. N. Dyamant were questioned by the court as witnesses. Potyomkin testified that in 1969 he went to Davidovich and told him that Egides had in his possession drafts of some Party Rules and of a Constitution. Davidovich informed the KGB, who replied that they would look into the matter. It was established in court that Egides had prepared his manuscripts in the Leningrad Region and in Rostov (in Dyamant‘s flat). In early January 1970 the police arrested Dyamant, carried out a search and confiscated a suitcase containing Egides‘s manuscripts (among them the Rules).

Witness Kivenko described Egides’s moral countenance. Landau, an expert (from the Serbsky Institute), testified that Egides had a psychopathic personality with a cranial-cerebral trauma and arteriosclerosis, and that he had broken the law “while in a state of paranoid reaction, in the grip of delusions of grandeur and reforming zeal”. (The commission had taken into account testimony from Egides’s relatives about the mental abnormalities they had noticed in him.) At present, concluded the commission, Egides has not completely emerged from the reaction, in view of which he requires forcible treatment in a psychiatric hospital of general type. The court judged the manuscripts “Towards the fundamental trends of socialism” and “The only way out” to contain slanderous fabrications. It also judged Egides to be of unsound mind and delivered the verdict that he should be placed in a psychiatric hospital of general type for compulsory treatment. At present P.M. Egides is in [Moscow’s] Kashchenko hospital, in the section for violent patients.


Lidia Andreyevna Doronina, formerly an economist at the Latvian Ministry of Culture, was arrested in Riga on 3 August 1970.

In the 1950s Doronina served five years in the camps “for sheltering a functionary of the bourgeois republic”. She was charged under Article 183-1 of the Latvian Criminal Code ( = Article 190-1 of the Russian Code). During a search samizdat documents were confiscated. A. Amalrik‘s “Letter to A. Kuznetsov” and A.I. Solzhenitsyn‘s “This is how we live” [about the arrest of Zhores Medvedev, CCE 14.3] were judged to be criminal, During investigations Doronina also admitted circulating A. Amalrik’s essay Will the Soviet Union Survive until 1984? which had not been discovered. Investigations were conducted by the Procuracy and the KGB; the investigator was Kakitis.

Approximately 60 witnesses were questioned. L. A. Doronina’s case was heard by the Latvian Supreme Court at the end of December. The chairman was [A. E.] Tsirulis, the prosecutor Puntsulis, defence counsel I. Brigis. Entry was by special passes distributed by Party committees. Professor L. Kalnynya, Doctor of philological sciences, P. Komnar and Maya Silmale, a translator, were witnesses [for the defence]. Kh. Skuya, Yu. Sturis, Mr. and Mrs. Adermanis, Z. Balde and I. Lass were witnesses for the prosecution.

Doronina pleaded guilty. On 29 December 1970 she was sentenced to two years of corrective-labour camps. The court delivered a separate decision that criminal proceedings should be instituted against witness M. Silmale.


On 25 September 1970 at the Voskresensky cemetery in Saratov [Volga District] a memorial was erected to the biologist Academician N.I. Vavilov, who died of starvation in Saratov prison [in 1943]. His body was thrown into one of the common graves with a metallic identification tag on one leg, and it was therefore not possible to locate his actual place of burial.

The memorial was erected by N.I. Vavilov’s son Yury; the money for it had been collected over a period of two years by the nation’s biologists, and the pupils, colleagues and friends of the deceased. The memorial was erected at the entrance to the cemetery, next to that of N.G. Chernyshevsky [revolutionary populist, 1828-89]. The authorities are investigating who organised the collection for the memorial to Nikolai Ivanovich Vavilov. As a consequence many eminent scientists in Saratov, Leningrad and Moscow have been questioned at their institutes. Several of them have been given internal Party reprimands.


On 8-9 September the Moletai district court in Lithuania sentenced Antanas Seskevicius, a priest, to one year of strict-regime camps. He was charged under an article equivalent to Article 142-1 of the Russian Criminal Code with teaching primary and secondary school-children the catechism at their parents’ request. The sentence has been confirmed by the Lithuanian Supreme Court.

In protest at this decision the priests of Lithuania have sent a number of petitions with more than a hundred signatures to the Central Committees of the Latvian and Soviet communist parties. The priest Antanas Seskevicius is in a camp, the address of which is: Lithuanian SSR, Alitus OCh 12/4.


Vladimir Dremlyuga, who is serving a three-year sentence in Yakutia for taking part in the demonstration in Red Square on 25 August 1968, has been placed until March in the PKT [the Russian initials for “cell-type premises”], formerly known as BUR [hard-regime barrack] by decision of the camp administration. The PKT regime is identical to that in prison. Parcels and meetings with relatives are forbidden, and the prisoner’s rations are reduced to a lower grade for part of his period of confinement. He is allowed half an hour’s exercise per day. V. Dremlyuga’s address is: Lensk, postbox YaD- 40/3.


On 28 October 1970 L.I. Borodin, N.V. Ivanov (both members of Ogurtsov’s group, the All-Russian Social-Christian Union for the Liberation of the People) and Yu.T. Galanskov were despatched from Dubrovlag Camp 17a (near the village of Ozyorny) to Yavas for trial.

The camp administration requested that they be sent to Vladimir Prison. The court decided to transfer Leonid Borodin to Vladimir Prison for the remainder of his sentence); Ivanov and Galanskov were put in the BUR for two months. The most recent pretext for a trial was apparently a collective protest by the prisoners about the poor quality of the food. At the same time as Borodin, A.A. Petrov-Agatov and Boris Bykov were sent from Camp 17a to Vladimir. On 4 December Yury Galanskov was transferred as an emergency case from the BUR to the camp hospital in the village of Barashevo.


In the autumn of 1970 MVD troops carried out manoeuvres near Moscow “To suppress a revolt in a camp holding 1,300 men”.

This is how it looked: in the camp compound people in pea-jackets are waving their arms and shouting. At a given signal armoured troop-carriers hurtle into the mob and divide it into three sections. Soldiers leap from the troop-carriers hurling tear-gas grenades (simulated); dogs are released. The dogs jump on the men in pea-jackets from behind and seize them round the neck, trying to knock them down. (According to an official statement the soldiers in pea-jackets were wearing special pads round their necks.) The final stage is the “rounding-up of the ring-leaders”. Metal cages have been moved towards the men in pea-jackets; when they reach them the doors close automatically. Each cage has trapped several men. Altogether “fifty ring-leaders have been apprehended”.

About a hundred generals and other officers of the MVD and the KGB were present at the manoeuvres. On completion of the manoeuvres the customary banquet took place.


Another attempt to seize an aeroplane [note 1] with the object of crossing the frontier was made in Lithuania on 16 November. Vytautas Simokaitis (formerly the deputy director of the administrative section of the “Lietuive” [musical] ensemble) and his wife (formerly secretary of the Komsomol organisation of the same ensemble) tried to make an aeroplane flying from Palanga to Vilnius change course. Simokaitis entered the cock-pit of the aeroplane with a pistol and was disarmed by the navigator; his wife, who had been threatening to set fire to the aeroplane with petrol, was also seized.


On the morning of 29 November 1970, following a long-established tradition, Riga Jews came to the Rumbula cemetery in the suburbs of Riga to hold a rally in memory of the Jews shot there in November and December 1941.

The local authorities hastily decided to hold an official remembrance rally at the same time. The speakers at this rally spoke about fascist atrocities, vigilance, and the Israeli chauvinists who, in league with the West-German revanchists, were defiling the memory of the murdered victims of fascism. After the official rally had ended the Riga Jews gathered around the only Jewish memorial in the Rumbula wood, lit candles and said prayers for the dead. Valery Portnoi told of the tragic fate of the Riga ghetto. The poet Nathan Lazovsky began to recite his verses, but was cut short by a colonel of police demanding that the speeches be ceased.

Those present began to insist on their right to hold a rally, citing the Constitution of the USSR. In reply Colonel G. M. Dyagilev said that he had been “instructed” to stop “all this”. But the rally continued, ending with the singing of “Buchenwald alarm”. (This item is based on the samizdat essay ”Rumbula 1970″.)


At 6 pm on 5 December, Constitution Day, the already traditional demonstration took place on Pushkin Square [in central Moscow]. Those assembled bared their heads and with one minute’s silence expressed their protest at the violation of constitutional rights. This year several dozen people came to the square. Foreign correspondents were present. The square was full of KGB officials, police and vigilantes. This year, unlike previous years, there were cases of interference by police and vigilantes (druzhinniki): several people were forcibly removed from the square.


After the demonstration on Pushkin Square several Moscow students were apprehended. They were stopped for a documents-check at the corner of Sovetskaya Square and asked to go to the central vigilante headquarters, which is situated nearby. There the case of one of the girls was opened and found to contain her mark-book and two samizdat documents: two issues of the Chronicle and A.D. Sakharov‘s essay “Reflections on progress .. .”.The students were held at the head-quarters for four hours.


From 5 to 10 December the traditional hunger strike was observed by a number of political prisoners: in the Mordovian Camps 19, 3 and 17; by 27 people being held in Vladimir Prison; and by Natalya Gorbanevskaya and Vladimir Gershuni in Butyrka Prison (CCE 11, 12, 13).


V. Gershuni continued his hunger strike until New Year’s Eve, the day he was sent to a new special hospital in Oryol [Central Russia]: Oryol, IZ-55/3.


Girsh Isakovich Feigin (b.1927), a resident of Riga, has been trying for many years to obtain permission to emigrate permanently to Israel to join his mother and sister.

On 4 May 1970, as a protest against the groundless refusals, Major G. Feigin publicly renounced the government decorations he had received during the Second World War. On 30 July 1970 Feigin and seven friends of his sent a statement of their renunciation of Soviet citizenship to the Presidium of the USSR Supreme Soviet [note 2].  After this G. Feigin was repeatedly subjected to didactic “chats” by various Soviet organisations and threatened with being placed in a psychiatric hospital.

On 18 December 1970 Girsh Feigin was forcibly placed in the republican psychiatric hospital of Latvia at 1, Aptekas Street, Riga. The doctor who saw to his hospitalisation told his [Feigin’s] friends that Feigin was abnormal, because “normal people do not renounce government decorations”.


The appeals in the case of R. Pimenov, B. Vail and V. Zinovieva were heard on 22 December [for their trial, CCE 16.2]. The Russian Supreme Court left the sentences imposed by the Kaluga Regional Court unchanged: five years’ exile for R.I. Pimenov and B.B. Vail, one year’s suspended sentence for Zinovieva.


On 25 December 1970 a group of Jews awaiting permission to emigrate to Israel requested the chairman of the Leningrad City Court to allow their representatives to attend the trial of Mogilyover, Dreizner, Boguslavsky and others on charges of “anti-Soviet Zionist propaganda” and of “creating an anti-Soviet Zionist organisation”. The authors of the request write:

“The educative function of the trial will be almost entirely nullified if the only people present at it are those who are ready in advance to welcome ‘with a deep sense of satisfaction’ the verdict of ‘guilty’ on Zionism.”

Another reason for their request: “As long as we are compelled to stay in this country, we shall by all possible means argue our right to leave it.” It is especially important for such people to know “where to draw the line”, as the investigators put it. “When we learn where to draw the line we shall try not to cross it, but we cannot guarantee this, since the line keeps moving towards us”.


On 25 December 1970 Konstantin Josifovich Babitsky returned to Moscow after serving his term of exile in Syktyvkar in the Komi ASSR, to which he was sentenced for taking part in the demonstration in Red Square on 25 August 1968 (CCE 4.1).


At the end of May 1970 Boris Georgiyevich Menshagin (b. 1901) was released from Vladimir Prison. From 1945 to 1951 he was held in the Lubyanka, the KGB investigation prison. That was followd by eighteen years in Vladimir Prison. In 1941 he was in Smolensk; according to unconfirmed reports he witnessed the “Katyn tragedy”. On his release he was placed in a home for the aged in the village of Knyazhaya Guba in the Arkhangelsk [Murmansk, ed.] Region. ‘


In December the case of [Vladimir] Telnikov and [Julia] Vishnevskaya, who had been charged under Article 192 of the Russian Criminal Code, was terminated. They were apprehended on July 7 outside the building of the Moscow City Court during the trial of Natalya Gorbanevskaya (see CCE 15.1 and CCE 16.10, item 8).


On 29 December 1970 the investigation of the case of A.E. Levitin-Krasnov was concluded (CCE 15.5). He is being charged under Articles 190-1 and 142 of the Russian Criminal Code (“defaming the Soviet political and social system” and “Incitement to violate the laws on the separation of Church and State”). The case is being handed over to the Moscow City Court. Since August Levitin has been at liberty, having signed an undertaking not to leave his place of residence.


In response to many readers’ requests, the Chronicle gives all known names, birthdays and addresses of the children of political prisoners and exiles [note 3]:

Marina Aidova, 13 June 1962 — Kishinyov, ul. Lenina 64 kv. 87.

Yasik Gorbanevsky, 5 September 1961; Osya Gorbanevsky, 14 May 1968 — Moskva, Novopeschanaya ul. 13/3 kv. 34.

Alyosha Gabai, 13 February 1962 — Moskva, Novolesnaya ul. 18 Korp. 2 kv. 83.

Krasin: Shurik, 15 June 1960; Petya, 20 October 1961; Alyosha, 10 October 1964 — Moskva, ul. Godovikova, 12, kv. 11.

Marina Ronkina, 4 February 1964 — Leningrad, Bolshoi pr., 56, kv. 16.

Yana Burmistrovich, 22 May 1967 — Moskva, Kutuzovsky pr. 26, kv. 55.

Larissa Litvinova, 17 February 1970 — Chita Region, Tungokochensky district, Verkhniye Usugli, Tsentralnaya, 30.

Sasha Altunyan, 17 May 1958; Lena, 29 April 1962 — Kharkov, ul. Kosmonavtov, 4, kv. 84.

Grisha Nedobora, 11 June 1965; Misha, 3 May 1970 — Kharkov, ul. 23 avgusta, 49, kv. 45.

Andrei Ponomaryov, 7 August 1965 — Kharkov, ul. 23 avgusta, 26, kv. 45.

Oleg Kuznetsov, 14 August 1959; Olya, 13 March 1963 — Pushkino (Moscow Region), Nadsonovskaya ul. 22, kv. 54.

Vitya Pavlenkov, 15 November 1960 — Gorky, ul. Ulyanova 12 kv. 12.

Vladya Ponomaryova, 17 February 1966 — Gorky, ul. Ulyanova 4, kv. 4.

Revolt Pimenov, 20 August 1964.

Dima Vail, 11 August 1966.



[1] The hijacker Simokaitis was sentenced to death, then reprieved and given 15 years, in January 1971.

[2] Feigin was released in January the following year, and allowed to emigrate on 10 February 1971.

[3] The parents concerned are:

Vyacheslav Aidov, Natalya Gorbanevskaya, Ilya Gabai, Victor Krasin, Valery Ronkin, Ilya Burmistrovich, Pavel Litvinov, Genrikh Altunyan, Vladislav Nedobora, Vladimir Ponomaryov (Kharkov), Victor Kuznetsoy, Vladlen Pavelenkov, Sergei Ponomaryov (Gorky), Revolt Pimenov and Boris Vail.