Political Prisoners in the Mordovian Camps, March 1972 (24.5)

<<No 24 : 5 March 1972>>


Petro Samofil – his 25-year sentence ends on 21 February 1972. He has passed through the Pechora, Vorkuta and Taishet camps and the strict-regime camp in Spasskoye (Kazakhstan). He is completing his sentence in Mordovia [see Map 3].

Yevhen Pryshlyak – serving a 25-year term [note 1].

Mykhaylo Lutsyk – he was arrested by the Germans in 1939 and spent two years and three months in prison. Later he was arrested by the KGB in 1944 and spent the years until 1956 in prison, when he was legally exculpated. In 1957 he was arrested again and given a fifteen-year sentence.

Members of UPA (Ukrainian Partisan Army) [in fact: Ukrainian Insurrectionist Army]: Mykola Habarak, Oleksa Kyselek, Ivan Ilchuk, Vasyl Zhovtovolovsky (sentenced to twenty years), Vasyl Yakubyak, Dmytro Basarab, Dmytro Zalesky (sentences unknown).

Nikolai Bondar – sentenced to seven years. As a protest against his sentence he carried out a 34-day hunger strike at the end of 1971 [see CCE 23].


Petras Paulaitis – he has repeatedly refused to request a pardon [note 2].

Petras Paulaitis, 1904-1986

Jonas Simokaitis – during his trial and the long period spent in transit prisons he has developed spots on the lungs. He is in camp No. 10 (special regime) [note 3]

Balis Gajauskas – his 25-year sentence ends in May 1973. He has passed through the Balkhash, Dzhezkazgan and Mordovian camps (in Mordovia: camps No. 7, 11 and 17 [see Reddaway, p. 210]) and has also been in Vladimir Prison. While in the camps he has learnt more than ten languages.

Jonas Matuzevicius and Vitas Sidoris – serving 25-year sentences.


Willi Saarte (b. 1942) sentenced for attempting to form an Estonian party with the aim of achieving the independence of Estonia. On 24 November 1970 he was sentenced to four-and-a-half years of strict- regime camps. He is in camp No. 17.

[A Uniate priest]

Father Roman Bakhtalovsky was sentenced to three years’ imprisonment and 5 years’ exile for anti-Soviet propaganda: manuscripts of sermons for believers were discovered in his possession. On 13 December 1968, his birthday, officials of the KGB burst into his home in  Kolomiya [Ivano-Frankovsk Region] and carried out a search, in the course of which they confiscated a carefully preserved fragment of the cross of Christ. On completing his sentence, at the age of 70, he was sent into exile [note 3].


The plight of Jewish prisoners convicted at the recent “Zionist” trials of 1970-71 (see CCE 17.6; and CCE 20) in Dubrovlag Camp No. 19 has deteriorated sharply  following the visit on 24 November of Major Sorokin of the Political Department.

Sorokin called on the prisoners to struggle against “Zionist sects”. Victor Boguslavsky was put in the punishment cells on a charge of “sectarianism” for associating normally with other Jews. Sorokin’s prompting provoked a lively response from those prisoners who were formerly policemen or torturers under the German occupation. On 28 November prisoners Goldfeld and Yagman sent the Procurator-General a statement on the persecution of Jews and the arbitrary behaviour of the camp administration.

In camp No. 3 the prisoners are persecuted for studying Hebrew. Mogilyover was summoned by Captain Pichugin, commander of the operations group, and told in an insulting manner that Jews must stop studying Hebrew, since they were Russian Jews.

The serious plight of Silva Zalmanson and the camp administration’s arbitrary treatment of Izrail Zalmanson, who has been deprived of visits, are the subjects of a statement by their brother, Samuil Zalmanson, addressed to Podgorny [note 5].



[1] On Pryshlyak (b. 1913), Lutsyk and Ilchuk (b. 1925) see also Michael Browne, Ferment in the Ukraine (1971), and the Ukrainian Herald (No 4).

[2] See portrait of Paulaitis drawn by Yury Ivanov in Mordovia’s special-regime Camp No. 10 (in Possev 2, 1971). Born in 1904, Paulaitis studied in Rome, gained a doctorate, and was then active in the underground, first against the Nazis (1940-44), then against the Soviets (1944-1946).

Sentenced to 25 years, he was amnestied in 1956, but then sent back to complete his term in 1957 for nationalist activity among the students of the Polytechnic Institute in Kaunas. It was found that the students had intended again to set up the “Union of Fighters for Freedom in Lithuania”. Seven of them received sentences of up to ten years. Paulaitis was given a new sentence of 25 years, soon commuted to 15. This term will expire on 12 April 1973 (see Possev 7, 1972).

[3] Perhaps a misprint for Vytautas Simokaitis (see CCE 17-19)?

[4] See more details about Father Roman Bakhtalovsky in Ukrainian Herald (No 1, Ukrainsky visnyk, issue I-II), PIUF-Smoloskyp (see Note 18), and the samizdat “Register”, prisoner 93, in Possev: 9th special issue, October 1971. There his first names are given, probably correctly, as Daniil Romanovich.

[5] See text of Samuil Zalmanson’s appeal to Podgorny, dated 22 November 1971, in News Bulletin on Soviet Jewry (No 207). For the negative reply see Jews in the USSR: Latest Information, London (No 5, 11 February 1972).