The Case of Vladimir Bukovsky, November 1971 (22.2)

«No 22 : 10 November 1971»

In connection with the transfer of Vladimir Bukovsky (on his arrest, CCE 19.1) to the Serbsky Institute for [psychiatric] examination [CCE 21.5], a group of his friends and acquaintances has addressed an Open Letter [1] to the Director of the Serbsky Institute and to the World Health Organisation.

The letter points to Bukovsky’s sound mental health, the integrated nature of his personality, his optimism, responsiveness, gentleness and other spiritual qualities bearing witness to his mental stability. It states that to judge Bukovsky to be of unsound mind would be a crime. The letter is signed by 48 people. On 5 October 1971 Academicians M. Leontovich and A. Sakharov associated themselves with the letter. [2]


On 4 October V. E. Maximov, a member of the USSR Union of Writers [3] for whom Bukovsky had worked prior to his arrest, also appealed to G. Morozov, Director of the Serbsky Institute. Describing Bukovsky in moral and practical respects as a model of honour and decency, V. E. Maximov also stresses his integrated character and mental health.

Bukovsky’s mother has sent a telegram to the International Committee for the Defence of Human Rights in Paris (with a copy to Madame Pompidou) [4]:

“I am certain of my son’s innocence. I call for all legal means to be exploited in his defence, including personal contacts with the Soviet leaders. ”

Vladimir Bukovsky (1942-2019) with his mother


At the end of October of this year an Open Appeal to all Human Rights organisations [5] was circulated. In violation of the directives [Instruktsii] governing forensic-psychiatric examinations in the USSR, it pointed out, Bukovsky had been kept in the Serbsky Institute even after the expiry of a second one-month term. Ever since his arrest on 29 March 1971 (the day before the opening of the 24th Party Congress) he had been completely isolated from the outside world: since he was in the hands of those very experts whose criminal unscrupulousness he had publicly denounced before the whole world, this gave legitimate cause for concern that Bukovsky might already be subject to forcible “treatment”, undermining his mind and intellect.

The authors of the appeal (which bears 53 signatures) call upon all Human Rights organisations and all men of good will to put forward the following demands:

(1) the immediate termination of the protracted examination and an official report of its findings to Bukovsky’s mother;

(2) permission for Bukovsky’s mother to visit her son in order to satisfy herself that he is in good health and not being subjected to unlawful acts;

(3) the immediate admission to the case, while the investigation is still being carried out, of the lawyer whose services Bukovsky and his mother wish to use.

On 7 and 8 November respectively two members of the Committee for Human Rights, Academician A. Sakharov and I. Shafarevich (a corresponding member of the USSR Academy of Sciences), associated themselves with the appeal; both particularly emphasised their solidarity with Bukovsky’s actions, which had been aimed at excluding the possibility of psychiatry being used in the struggle against dissent.



[1] Extracts from the “Open Letter” to the Serbsky Institute and the World Health Organisation appeared in many papers on 6 October 1971. Full text in Possev, 10, 1971.

[2] For an extract from the letter of support from Academicians Sakharov and Leontovich see the Reuter dispatch of 5 October 1971.

[3] Vladimir Maximov is author of Sem dnei tvoreniya [The Seven Days of Creation], Possev-Verlag, 1971, a 500-page novel. See extracts from his appeal in a Reuter dispatch of 11 October 1971.

[4] On the telegram sent by Bukovsky’s mother see Le Monde, Paris, 19 October 1971.

[5] See brief summary of the late October appeal to all human rights organisations in an AP dispatch of 9 November 1971 from Moscow.