The Arrests in Tallinn, May 1975 (38.3)

<<No 36 : 31 May 1975>>

CCE 35 has already reported on the series of arrests in Tallinn. According to more precise information, the following people were arrested on 13-14 December 1974 in Tallinn: Dr Arvo Varato (40 years old); engineer Matti Kiirend (36 years old); Kalju Mattik (41 years old), lecturer at the Polytechnic Institute; and engineer Artyom Yuskevich (43 years old, a Ukrainian and a member of the CPSU).

On 4 January 1975 engineer Sergei Soldatov (41 years old), a former lecturer at the Polytechnic Institute, was arrested in connection with the same case. In 1969 Soldatov was interrogated as a witness in the case of the Baltic Fleet Officers (see CCE 11.5). On that occasion he was subjected to an out-patient psychiatric examination and was declared not responsible.

The arrested are charged with “anti-Soviet agitation and propaganda”. They are, apparently, being accused of producing and disseminating “The Program of the Estonian National Front”, the article “Russian Colonialism in Estonia”, and the journal The Light of Freedom. During the search, tape-recordings of the Gulag Archipelago (in Russian) and a rough copy of an Estonian translation of it, were allegedly found. The arrested men were blackmailed with the possibility of prosecution on charges of sabotage (an empty KGB car had been burnt in Tallinn), and some sort of murder. The investigation was conducted by special investigators of the KGB, Pimenov and Berzins.


In March Soldatov was transferred to Moscow, apparently for an in-patient psychiatric examination. The investigator told Soldatov’s wife that he would very likely be declared not responsible.

Soldatov sent the following letter from prison:

This test has been sent to me by God and I commit my fate into His hands. Nothing, not even death, will deprive me of my good name. As regards the charges against me under Article 68 of the Estonian Criminal Code, I am completely innocent, for I have always thought not of injuring or destroying anything but of good deeds and the betterment of life, of establishing friendly relations between people. The court of humanity and history will undoubtedly vindicate me, and progressive society is on my side. They will soon come to understand and sense this. But now a routine sacrifice is needed and I shall carry my cross in sacred awareness of this fact.

What, apart from the ideals of love and truth, has guided my life? Now I am being misrepresented and depicted as a criminal by people who are themselves blind and have lost their way. They do not understand that they are condemning, not an individual, but a maturing social phenomenon, which has the future on its side and which, in spite of everything, is inescapable. It will come to fruition before the 1980’s are over.


For several months searches and interrogations in connection with this case took place in Tallinn, Tartu and Riga. Several dozen searches were conducted. At least three searches in connection with the “Tallinn case” took place in Moscow. One of these was at the flat of philologist Igor Kochetkov.

In March Georgy Davydov (CCE 29, 34) was transferred from Vladimir Prison to Tallinn, After confirming evidence he had given as a defendant during the investigation of his own case, he refused to give further evidence. On 27 May Davydov was sent back to Vladimir.

In the Perm camps Davydov’s co-defendant, Vyacheslav Petrov (CCE 29), was interrogated about the “Tallinn case”.

In the Mordovian camps Alexander Bolonkin (CCE 29, 30) was interrogated in connection with the same case. He was questioned by Lieutenant-Colonel Nikitin, the deputy chief of the Dubrovlag investigation department, who has worked in the K G B since Stalin’s time.

Bolonkin’s co-defendant, Valery Balakirev (CCE 29, 30), was summoned from Moscow to Tallinn for interrogation.