In the Prisons and Camps, December 1976 (43.3)

<<No 43 : 31 December 1976>>


Vasily Fedorenko is continuing the hunger-strike he began on 26 April 1975 (CCE 42 was inaccurate here), immediately after his arrival at the prison (CCE 38). Twice during this period he interrupted the hunger-strike, at the insistence of his friends, because his life was in great danger. One of these interruptions was in August 1976, after an attempt at self-immolation in the cooler. During his hunger-strike Fedorenko has been put in the cooler five or six times.


On 5 May 1976 political prisoners held a one-day hunger-strike to mark the centenary of the Tsar’s decree banning the Ukrainian language. The hunger-strikers were protesting at present-day discrimination against Ukrainians.


In preparation for 1 August 1976, the first anniversary of the Helsinki Agreement, the political prisoners in Vladimir Prison sent identical statements to the Presidium of the USSR Supreme Soviet. They demanded that a referendum should be carried out in every republic of the Soviet Union, under the supervision of a special commission, to decide the internal and external status of the said republic.

The prison administration considered that these statements contained impermissible expressions and confiscated them.


On 5 December the day commemorating victims of the Red Terror was observed. Many people managed to observe the customary ritual of the camps — candles are erected on a little mound — even in their cells, by secretly making candles from materials available to them.

More on the Subject of Correspondence

In December 1974 N. P. Kapkanov, the official in charge of corrective labour institutions in Vladimir Region, described his reason for confiscating a letter thus: “The letter was correctly confiscated, as it contained information which has no bearing on correspondence between relatives.”

In December 1975 he refused to send off a letter from G. Rode on the ground that it was — too long: “We aren’t allowed to send manuscripts.”

One of K. Lyubarsky’s letters was confiscated because of his “use of inverted commas”. In another letter Lyubarsky called some of the people he knew “silly fools” — the prison administration suspected that he was referring to the Party leaders and the government.

In January 1976 a letter was returned to A. Zdorovy after being investigated for two months — a letter containing his translation into Ukrainian of stories from a Soviet journal. Once more the reason given was “We don’t send manuscripts”.

In February 1976 a letter touching upon religious matters was confiscated from Ye. Pashnin. The explanation given was: “In our country the Church is separated from the State.”

Mass confiscation of letters began after a visit to the prison in March 1976 by Procurator Lobin, head of the USSR Procuracy’s department for supervising places of imprisonment. In July 1976 prison governor Zavyalkin stated: “You should understand that neither we nor the regional procurator’s office would change the existing procedures for sending letters and complaints: we have received instructions from the Procurator-General.”

The blockade of correspondence was directly commanded by Lieutenant-Colonel Ugodin, head of prison security (he is now the governor of Vladimir Prison).


From 23 to 30 September, thirteen political prisoners were on hunger-strike in protest against the orders given by prison governor Ugodin to send back parcels of books that had come for G. Superfin and Z. Popadyuk (reason given: their personal effects already weighed more than 50 kilograms). They ended their hunger-strike after Assistant Procurator Sychugov of the Vladimir Region countermanded the order.

Later Ugodin forbade the ordering of educational, medical and juridical literature from the organization “Books by Post”, and also forbade such literature to be given out to the prisoners from their personal belongings in the storeroom. (Since 1969 the “Books by Post” service has been the only source of books permitted to the prisoners.)

The prisoners responded by holding a short warning hunger-strike on 7 November and designated the end of December to carry out a general hunger-strike. The hunger-strike did not take place as this ban too was repealed by the procurator’s office.

In 1976 political prisoners inquired of the Vladimir Post Office about registered letters they had sent, and found out that over one hundred letters containing complaints to various departments had not been forwarded from the prison to the post office. The numbers on the receipts given to the prisoners by the security department turned out to be fabricated.

On 25 November a search was carried out, during which blank forms for acknowledging delivery of letters were confiscated.


Afanasyev, Lyubarsky and Makarenko, after being deprived of access to the camp shop and put in the cooler for their refusal to work (they are political prisoners), were transferred to strict regime for 2 months from 24 September (CCE 42 is inaccurate on this point). In October Safronov was put in the cooler for 15 days (the reason is unknown to the Chronicle). Five days later he was released because of his anaemic condition.


In December Makarenko, Davydov, Superfin and Zdorovy were put in the cooler.

Makarenko got 15 days for showing a common criminal prisoner how to write complaints by registered letter with a notification.

Davydov and Superfin got ten days each. They had demanded that replies to their complaints from Soviet institutions, which — against their signature of acknowledgement — are read out to prisoners in the security department, should be given to them, so that they can read them for themselves (as the Corrective Labour Code lays down). The charge against them stated that their demand was made “rudely”.

Zdorovy got 12 days, for refusing to hand in a third pair of underclothes to the store-room. His pair of warm underclothes was taken away from him, leaving him with only summer ones.


On 26 November Babur Shakirov and Nikolai Budulak-Sharygin were sent back to the camps. Both of them had been given three-year prison terms while they were in Mordovian Camp 19, for signing letters to the Committee for Human Rights [in Moscow] (CCE //32).


In November 1976, Yevgeny Pashnin’s term of imprisonment came to an end (according to his sentence, he still has two years in exile left). While his documents were being checked, a small note was found on him — for this he was put in the cooler on 26 November and kept there until he was due to leave for his place of exile.

On 26 November, before he left, he was deprived of his exercise-books, postcards with greetings on them, journals, cuttings from newspapers, empty envelopes and postal forms, an album containing a stamp collection, notebooks, letters he had received, and copies of letters he had sent.

Pashnin refused to enter the “Black Maria”, demanding the return of the confiscated papers. On the orders of Kichigin, the officer in charge, he was pushed into the car by force. Pashnin then refused to leave the “Black Maria” and get into the train. The guards beat him up in full public view and threw him into a carriage.

Pashnin is serving his term in exile in Vorkuta.


On 22 June 1976 Georg Gimpu (Perm Camp 35) sent a statement to the Chairman of the Presidium of the USSR Supreme Soviet. Gimpu wrote about the fate of “Soviet citizens of Romanian nationality” (Moldavians). He demanded an end to the suppression of persons fighting to unite Bessarabia with Romania. The statement ends as follows:

As a Romanian from Bessarabia and as a political prisoner, I demand that the Presidium of the USSR Supreme Soviet should resolve in the near future to return Bessarabia to Romania, thus giving the Romanian people the opportunity to unite, all the more so as the same socio-political system exists in both Bessarabia and Romania.

As a sign of protest against the annexation of Bessarabia by the Soviet Union on 28 June 1940 I declare that I wilt go on hunger-strike on 28 June. In accordance with Article 125 of the Soviet Constitution, which guarantees freedom of speech and freedom of the press, I ask that this statement be published in the main papers and also that George Bandrus, ambassador of the Romanian Socialist Republic, be informed of it.


In a letter to the Chairman of the USSR Supreme Court (dated 23 July 1976) B. Shakhverdyan “thanks” the Soviet judicial organs who transferred him from Perm Camp 35 to Vladimir Prison (CCE 42), thus freeing him from the persecution of the administration in Camp 35.


From September to December Paruir Airikyan (CCE 34, 42) was in Erevan. He was transferred there from Mordovia in an ordinary train accompanied by a special guard detail, dressed in civilian clothes; he was well fed and even treated to some brandy. A meeting was arranged for him with Ashot Navasardyan, who had been brought from Perm Camp 36. Officials attempted to persuade both of them to resign their membership of the National United Party by promising a reduction in their sentences. Both refused.

In the spring Navasardyan was in the punishment cells for 2 months. At the ends of May he was transferred to the camp dispensary (on a stretcher) and then sent to Armenia from there.


In December L. A. Ladyzhensky (CCE 34, 40, 42) was released from Perm Camp 36 at the end of his 3-year term of imprisonment. The three years of internal exile to which he was sentenced has been cancelled by an official pardon. The pardon also gives him the right to return to Riga.

Concerning Mustafa Dzhemilev

Mustafa Dzhemilev was transferred from Omsk Prison to a camp on 18 June (not 25 June, as reported in CCE 41). A few days beforehand the head of the medical section had told him that it would take a few more months to restore his health (after his hunger-strike). The transfer took more than two months, with long stops in Novosibirsk, Irkutsk, Khabarovsk and Vladivostok. Dzhemilev reached the camp on 20 August.

On 23 August Mustafa wrote in a letter to his brother:

It would be difficult for our parents to travel such a distance to visit me, and their experiences would not be very pleasant; so please explain the circumstances to them in as reassuring a manner as you can. I am sorry that I cannot write them a letter, as we can write only in Russian.

I would have asked you to bring me as many books as possible in Turkish and English, but here I have been deprived of those I had with me already, as these languages “are not national languages in the USSR or the fraternal socialist countries”. So they said …

A few days later some of these books, including some dictionaries, were returned to Dzhemilev.

As soon as he arrived in the camp Dzhemilev demanded to be isolated (in solitary), in order to avoid being accused once again of making anti-government statements to other prisoners. When his request was refused, he declared a hunger-strike.

Dzhemilev was taken out to work (in addition, the team-leader wrote reports on him, saying that he was simulating illness and worked badly); on the fifth day he was told that he would not be allowed any visits while on hunger-strike. Dzhemilev broke off his hunger-strike. In a letter dater 9 September Mustafa wrote: “Overall the attitude of the camp administration to me is not hostile, and I am demanding to be isolated as a result of my experiences in Omsk. After all, the attitude of the administration there was quite normal too, and the camp officials were not those responsible for organizing the dirty tricks” (CCE 36, 40).

Mustafa’s visit from his brother and sister was fixed for 4 October. They were given a pass to travel to the Khasan district only on 2 October, in Tashkent, after many visits to the MVD, the police and the KGB (CCE 42). Nevertheless, on 4 October Asan and Nasfiye arrived at the camp. Towards evening, after a painstaking search of their belongings (writing materials, photographs of relations, bouillon cubes, dried milk, multi-vitamins and medicines were confiscated) and a body search during which they were stripped naked, they were allowed into the visiting room, Mustafa was brought in the following morning.

Mustafa looked well, but it turned out that he found it difficult to eat because of tooth decay and stomach pains.

On the first day of the visit Captain Yaryshev, head of the camp security section, came into the room. He told the visitors: ‘You see, your brother is in perfect health, but you are giving out bad news about him. Western radio stations are broadcasting that he is being tormented and is destined for a slow death. You must write a refutation of this.” “Who for?” asked the brother and sister. “The document will be put in his case file. You should also try to dissuade your brother from his hunger-strike. Nothing like ‘the Omsk case’ will occur here.”

Asan and Nasfiye agreed to think about making such a statement. The next day they were issued pens and paper for two hours. In a statement addressed to the camp commandant they wrote that their brother had said he was receiving medical aid and had no complaints to make of the administration; they also gave the reasons for his hunger-strike. Yaryshev signed the copy of the statement addressed to Dzhemilev’s lawyer. Mustafa told Yaryshev that he would stop his hunger-strike until he received a letter from his lawyer about the reply to his supervisory appeal, and that he would wait for this until 5 December.

During a search after the visit a copy of the statement was confiscated from Asan and he was told that the authorities themselves would send it to the lawyer.

The news that Mustafa Dzhemilev was again on hunger-strike provoked a widespread reaction from the Crimean Tatars. Scores of people signed a letter to him expressing solidarity with his struggle but asking him to give up his hunger- strike. Mustafa’s mother heard of the hunger-strike and wrote to him on the same lines.

Mustafa did not renew his hunger-strike.


On 27 September the Omsk Region Court heard the case of V. A. Dvoryansky (CCE 37.1), charged with giving false evidence at the trial of Mustafa Dzhemilev on 14 April 1976. Dvoryansky then had renounced the evidence (CCE 40.3) he had given at the pre-trial investigation, as it had been forced out of him by means of threats from KGB officials and an investigator.

Dvoryansky was sentenced to 12 months’ imprisonment, to follow his earlier sentence of 10 years (for murder in a fight) which is due to end in 1982. According to information which may not be wholly accurate, at the trial on 27 September Dvoryansky was also charged under Article 190-1 in connection with material confiscated from him during searches in camp, but the court did not find him guilty of this charge. [Correction, CCE 47 — The first charge figured in the indictment but not in the verdict. In the verdict only the charge under Article 190-1 remained.]

Before the trial Dvoryansky was kept in an investigation prison. After the trial he was sent back to the camp near Omsk where he had been imprisoned with Dzhemilev. It is known that a medical commission had recommended that he be transferred to a different climatic zone because of his state of health (diseased lungs, skin rash). Similar requests from Dvoryansky himself, which he has been handing in for a long time, have not so far met with success. In addition Major Filonenko, head of the camp dispensary, refuses to give him any medical treatment.