On 18 August 1982 the Moscow City Court examined the case of Gleb Pavlovsky (b. 1950) who was arrested on 5 April 1982 (CCE 64.3). Pavlovsky was charged with offences under Article 190-1 of the RSFSR Criminal Code: “Dissemination of fabrications known to be false, which defame the Soviet political and social system”.
Gleb Pavlovsky, 1951-2023
Pavlovsky was accused of being an editor of the samizdat journal Poiski (Investigations), Issues 1-7 (CCE 58.7), and author of a number of articles published in that journal, including some under the pseudonym “P. Pryzhov”.
Yekaterina Gaidamachuk (CCE 58.8), Victor Sokirko (CCE 58.7 and 60.4) and Alexander Daniel (CCE 63.8) were called as witnesses in court.
Gaidamachuk refused to give evidence.
Sokirko repeated the testimony he had given during his own trial (29-30 September 1980, CCE 58.7) at which he received a three-year suspended prison sentence.
Daniel said that he considered Pavlovsky’s articles were intended for debate and discussion. Pavlovsky objected, saying that the articles were defamatory because that was the assessment made of them in the sentences handed down at the preceding trials of the Poiski editors (CCE 58.7-9).
In his speech defence attorney D.M. Akselbant (CCE 58.8) said he considered the arrest of Pavlovsky to be a mistake on the part of investigators since the editors of Poiski had announced as far back as 31 December 1979 that they were ceasing publication of the journal (CCE 56.5). There had already been three trials in the Poiski case. The present charge sheet repeated in full the accusations brought in previous years and there were no indications that Pavlovsky had continued his literary activities after signing, in early 1980, an admission of his responsibility under Article 190-1.
Akselbant read out excerpts from the Short Literary Encyclopaedia and the Theory of Literature textbook used at Moscow State University, in order to show that a literary work cannot be a literal reflection of life but is its refraction through the prism of the author’s perception, and that caricature and exaggeration are forms of literary expression, not examples of defamation. The defence attorney suggested that the criminal charges against Pavlovsky be dropped.
In his last words in court Pavlovsky declared that he fully admitted his guilt and would accept any verdict the court reached.
Invoking Article 43 of the Criminal Code (Extenuating circumstances), the court sentenced Pavlovsky to five years exile.
On 26 August 1982 Akselbant submitted an appeal in which he argued that since the court had applied Article 43 the sentence must be a judicial error. Five years exile was undoubtedly a more severe punishment than the fine envisaged as the lower level for this crime. The appeal was turned down.
This report was prepared for the last, 65th issue of the Chronicle of Current Events (31 December 1982) which was never circulated (published) in the Soviet Union or translated abroad.
After 15 years of harassment, intimidation and arrests the Chronicle was finally shut down by the Soviet authorities in 1983.
Independent reports about human rights in the USSR and their violation continued to appear in USSR New Update (1978-1991), issued fortnightly in Munich by former political prisoner Kronid Lyubarsky. It is easily available only in a Russian edition.
This translation was first published on the Rights in Russia website, 20 November 2014.