The Arrest of Andrei Tverdokhlebov, 18 April 1975 (36.1)

<<No 36 : 31 May 1975>>

On 18 April 1975 Andrei Tverdokhlebov, an active participant in the human rights movement, was arrested in Moscow. The arrest was carried out by the Moscow procurator’s office. Tverdokhlebov is charged under Article 190-1 of the RSFSR Criminal Code. The investigation is headed by Senior Investigator Gusev of the Moscow procurator’s office.

Andrei Nikolayevich Tverdokhlebov (b. 1940) took part, together with A. D. Sakharov and V. N. Chalidze, in the founding of the Moscow Human Rights Committee (1970) and was a member of the committee until December 1972. During 1972-3 he published the samizdat miscellanies Amnesty International. In 1973 Tverdokhlebov was one of the founders of Group 73, which was set up to study the problems of aid to prisoners of conscience. Group 73 was associated with The International Federation for the Rights of Man (the Federation’s bureau is in Paris). Tverdokhlebov is a co-founder and the secretary of the Soviet group of Amnesty International, which has been functioning since October 1973.

Earlier issues of the Chronicle have given details about the many declarations sent by A. Tverdokhlebov to various official bodies in support of people subjected to persecution on ideological grounds and concerning the conditions of detention in places of imprisonment (see, e.g., CCE 29, 30, 32-35).

In 1974 the Khronika Press publishing house (New York) published the collection Andrei Tverdokhlebov in Defence of Human Rights (edited by V. Chalidze). In a foreword to the collection, the publishers state that Tverdokhlebov’s permission for its publication had not been sought, but they felt that “his rights have not been infringed by this, as all the texts included in the collection are already available for public use”.

The collection includes some statements by Tverdokhlebov on the subject of ideologically motivated persecution; materials concerning his activity in the Moscow Human Rights Committee; documents on the activities of Group 73; a selection of material compiled by Tverdokhlebov, “On Prisoners” Conditions” (CCE 33); an index of material contained in the four Amnesty International volumes; and some practical recommendations compiled by Tverdokhlebov, “On Serving the Needs of Prisoners of Conscience”.

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On 27-28 November 1974, on the instructions of the KGB attached to the Council of Ministers of the Lithuanian SSR, a search was carried out at Tverdokhlebov’s home, in connection with “case number 345”, concerning the Chronicle of the Lithuanian Catholic Church (CCE 34). On 23 December another search took place at Tverdokhlebov’s home in connection with the same case (CCE 34). On 23, 24 and 25 December, Tverdokhlebov was interrogated for three consecutive days about case number 345; on 9 January 1975 Tverdokhlebov was interrogated about case number 38, concerning the journal Veche, On 9 February Tverdokhlebov issued in samizdat the article “Two Searches and Four Interrogations”. The article appeared with nine appendices (two of them annotated in the “Letters and Statements” section of CCE 35).

The author arrives at the following conclusions: “Belief in the investigators’ integrity is all too quickly destroyed”; “it is morally impermissible to give evidence about other people and even to mention names which have hitherto not been cited by the investigator”; “refusal to give evidence as a witness may result in a summons to appear as a defendant in the same case or a similar one”.

On 9 April 1975 Tverdokhlebov sent a letter to investigator Yu. Chuprov at the KGB headquarters in Vladimir. Confirming that he had received a message summoning him for interrogation on 10 April, he wrote: “I ask you not to summon me any more as a witness in case number 38. During your earlier interrogation in Moscow I answered your questions more fully than was called for, and in my opinion this has exhausted my role as a witness in this case …. You may use this letter as a statement of refusal to give evidence for the above- mentioned reason.” On 18 April, in the early morning, Andrei Tverdokhlebov was arrested at his apartment.