The Eighteenth of April, 1975 (36.2)

<<No 36 : 31 May 1975>>

On 18 April 1975 searches were carried out at the homes of Valentin Turchin, chairman of the Soviet Amnesty International group, and at those of Amnesty group-members Vladimir Albrekht (Moscow) and Mykola Rudenko (Kiev). The searches took place in connection with case number 41045/48-75. No information was given as to the details of this case or who was being charged. The search warrants were signed by the same investigator Gusev who arrested Tverdokhlebov and is in charge of his case.

Amnesty logoThe search at V. Turchin’s home lasted for over 12 hours. About 200 items were confiscated, including: The Gulag Archipelago (volume I); A Question of Madness by the Medvedev brothers; V. Turchin’s personal papers and hand-written notes; documents connected with his activities as chairman of the Soviet Amnesty International group (except for those printed abroad and letters from the International Secretariat of Amnesty International, written on the organization’s notepaper); and typed copies of various articles, statements, etc.

Likewise, at V. Albrekht’s home documents connected with the activities of the Soviet Amnesty International group were confiscated. Officials from the Procurator’s Office, who carried out the search, would not allow Albrekht to write his own comments into the record of the search, and generally behaved in an insulting manner.

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After the search of Mykola Rudenko’s flat he was taken to a detention cell where he spent 48 hours before being released on condition that he did not leave town.

He was interrogated, first as a witness, then as a suspect, and finally as an accused person under Article 187-1 of the Ukrainian Criminal Code (equivalent to Article 190-1 of the RSFSR Code). The charges were based on articles and poems written by him, which had been confiscated during the search at his home. He was orally charged with membership of the Soviet Amnesty International group, but this was not entered in the record of the interrogation. His interrogators constantly emphasized that they were merely carrying out orders, and that the initiative lay with the Moscow Procurator’s Office.

The investigator strove to obtain M, Rudenko’s resignation from the Amnesty International group. After Rudenko had reported this to friends in Moscow, the investigator secured a promise from him not to disclose the secrets of the investigation. It was specifically stated in the promise: “except for what has already become widely known.”

Mykola Danylovych Rudenko is a member of the Ukrainian Writers’ Union, was a Party member, and fought in the Second World War, during which he was severely wounded in the spine. Large editions of his novels and poems have been published in the Ukraine. After the Twentieth Party Congress M. Rudenko became an active advocate of democratization within the Party and in the life of the people. His works gradually ceased to be published, and about a year ago he was expelled from the Party. In recent years, Rudenko has written a philosophic-economic work, The Energy of Progress, the story “Goodbye, Marx!” and the report “Hello, Kene”.

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On the same day, 18 April, in connection with the same case number 41045/ 48-75, a search took place at the home of Alexander Ginzburg in the town of Tarusa, Kaluga Region.

The search was carried out by: senior investigator L. F. Spassky of the Kaluga Regional Procurator’s Office, D. Proshcheruk; the Kaluga City procurator, M. Kuzikov: a Tarusa policeman, and three men in civilian clothing. After insistent requests, the three produced the identity cards of officials of the boards for internal affairs of Moscow City’s Soviet Executive Committee (M. A. Zenin) and the Kaluga Regional Soviet Executive Committee (A. Apokin and V. Gagarin). The search was, in fact, conducted by Zenin. An active part in the search was taken by the witnesses — L, Sidorova, an official in the passport section at the Tarusa police station, and Yu. Ushakov, leader of a local jazz band.

The search lasted for 30 hours. Probing rods and mine-detectors were used in the search for secret hiding-places. The searchers ripped up floorboards and tore off wall panels and cupboard doors. They claimed that they were looking for printing presses, portable wireless sets, weapons and gold. No secret hiding places were found in the house. Besides a few samizdat publications and personal papers, the following were confiscated: lists and a card index of political prisoners with information about the state of their families (about 3,500 names), medicines prepared by foreign firms (34 articles), and account books containing three current accounts.

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As is widely known {CCE 33), Alexander Ginzburg is openly engaged in the organization of material aid for political prisoners and their families.

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On 18 April, in connection with the same case number 41045/48-75, a search was carried out at the flat of Leonid Borodin. Two typewriters, a hand-written copy of Moscow Miscellany number 3, and a few incomplete typed copies of the same volume, were confiscated. During the search, only Olga Kurganskaya was present in the flat. After the search she was subjected to an interrogation which lasted for many hours.

At about 5 p.m. on the same day Leonid Borodin, the publisher of Moscow Miscellany, was stopped on the street by K G B officials and taken to the Lubyanka Prison where he was given a “final warning”. The KGB official who warned him called Moscow Miscellany an anti-Soviet publication.

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Andrei Tverdokhlebov’s arrest and the searches of 18 April gave rise to numerous protests.

On 18 April A. D. Sakharov appealed in a letter to Martin Ennals, General Secretary of Amnesty International, and to world public opinion.

On 19 April A, D. Sakharov and I. R. Shafarevich sent a letter to the Western press.

On 20 April the Soviet Amnesty International group sent the President of the Presidium of the USSR Supreme Soviet a protest against the persecution of members of the group, including a request to return the Amnesty documents confiscated during the search at the home of the group’s chairman, Valentin Turchin, and also the archives contained in the cabinet that the authorities had sealed up at the home of A. Tverdokhlebov. “These materials are necessary to us,” they pointed out. “so that the USSR Amnesty International group can function normally.” The letter was signed by eight Moscow members of the group: V. Turchin, Yu. Orlov, V. Albrekht, B. Landa, V, Voinovich, V. Kornilov, V. Sokolov and S. Zheludkov.

On the same day T. S. Khodorovich and M. N. Landa sent a protest statement to the press and the radio stations BBC, Deutsche Welle, Voice of America, and Radio Liberty.

On 21 April Yury Orlov, Valentin Turchin and Tatyana Khodorovich appealed to public opinion in Western countries:

We wish to warn Western public opinion that repressions systematically

carried out by the Soviet authorities recently against humanitarian movements — against Amnesty International religious activists, and dissenters in general — are steps in the direction of a secret confrontation with the West, a strengthening of the rear in preparation for such a confrontation. The final suppression of humanitarian and ethical movements in a huge, centralized state, in which every citizen has been taught that “the midwife of history is force” could be paid for dearly, not only by our own people, but also by other peoples of the world.

We urge you to try and understand that which you would, perhaps, rather ignore:

— that the fierce struggle to establish absolute ideological uniformity is directly relevant to your own future.

On 27 April the following letter, with 67 signatures, was made public:

On 18 April Andrei Tverdokhlebov was arrested in Moscow.

He was arrested because he had the courage, over a prolonged period of time, to protest openly against the persecution of dissenters in the USSR, that is, of people who express opinions differing from the official norm.

The very fact that dissenters are persecuted is grotesque and reminiscent of the days of the Inquisition. Any state, and especially a great power, which persecutes its citizens in this way because of their convictions, covers itself with shame.

Tverdokhlebov is charged with distributing anti-Soviet, slanderous fabrications. But it is precisely the accusation of slander which is directed against any Soviet citizen trying to combat arbitrary repression or to prevent its repetition in the future, and against anyone publicizing the very fact of such repression and the names of its victims.

The name of Andrei Tverdokhlebov and his selfless activity in support of human rights are widely known throughout the world.

Andrei Tverdokhlebov is now faced with a real threat. People throughout the world cannot remain indifferent to his fate. They must raise their voices in his defence, realizing that this is the only way of supporting Tverdokhlebov and other Soviet citizens in their difficult struggle for human rights and against arbitrary repression.

On 28 May a meeting of the Moscow section of the Soviet Amnesty International group took place.

In connection with the arrest of the group’s secretary, A. Tverdokhlebov, group member V. Albrekht has been temporarily appointed to carry out his duties.

The group sent messages to Franco, the head of the Spanish government, concerning the arrest of the playwright Alfonso Sastre, and to President Tito of Yugoslavia, asking him to pardon Z. Stojanovic-Kojic, who has been sentenced to three years’ imprisonment.

The work of the Soviet Amnesty International group continues.