The Arrest of Bukovsky, 29 March 1971 (19.1)

<<No 19 : 30 April 1971>>

On 29 March 1971 Vladimir Bukovsky was arrested by the Moscow Region KGB. He was charged under Article 70 of the Russian Criminal Code and placed in Lefortovo prison. A search of Bukovsky’s flat was carried out in his absence (Bukovsky was driven away, questioned, detained and – two days later – charged).

The search was carried out by Captain Korkach, senior investigator of the investigation division of the KGB, and four others (whose names were not given and whose signatures on the record of the search are illegible). The official witnesses present at the search, Natalya Korobkova and Vladimir Knyazev, arrived with the security officers, who addressed them familiarly as “Natasha” and “Volodya”. Instead of explaining their duties to the witnesses, the investigator told them: “Here you’ll be able to have a look at gold coins and bars, jewels and foreign currency”, to which Nina Ivanovna Bukovskaya, Vladimir’s mother, remarked: “You won’t find those things here, better look for them at your own house”.

The following were confiscated during the search:

V. Bukovsky has been repeatedly persecuted for activities which stem from his beliefs. His principal belief is that freedom must be fought for (and he has acted on this without breaking the law in the process), Vladimir has spent six of his 28 years in lunatic asylums and prisons.

The demonstration in defence of Sinyavsky and Daniel in September 1966 [in fact of December 1965] and that in defence of Dobrovolsky, Galanskov, Ginzburg and Lashkova of January 1967 are linked with his name; Bukovsky‘s final speech at his trial in September 1967 is memorable [2].

On his release from a three-year term of imprisonment in January 1970, Bukovsky immediately joined the struggle for human rights. His interview on the situation of political prisoners in psychiatric hospitals is well known [3]: he has himself experienced the Leningrad prison-hospital on Arsenalnava St, and has also been in Moscow hospitals (Lyublino, Stolbovaya and, for examination, the Serbsky Institute).


Just before his arrest Bukovsky sent to the West a collection of documents he had assembled, which give an idea of what sort of people are placed in psychiatric hospitals and of the methods by which this is done (the materials [4] include copies of the diagnostic reports of forensic-psychiatric experts and letters written in confinement by persons judged to be of unsound mind). These materials were destined for Western psychiatrists, to whom Bukovsky appealed in a letter (of 28 January 1971) [5]. Bukovsky‘s object was to help specialists to study the question of how psychiatry is employed in this country to imprison dissenters, in order that this question might then be brought up at forthcoming international conferences of psychiatrists [6] and the attention of world public opinion focused on the fate of the inmates of prison-hospitals.

Open letters in defence of Bukovsky have appeared, viz. a letter by V. Bukovsky’s mother addressed to A. Kosygin, [7] a letter by a group of [30 of] his friends and acquaintances to the 24th Party Congress [8] and an article by A. Krasnov, “Not by the Sword and the Lance”.

19.2 Notes from Oryol SPH by Vladimir Gershuni