In Other Prisons and Camps (47.9)

«No 47 : 30 November 1977»

The Perm Camps

On 4 October, the day the Belgrade Conference opened, political prisoners in  Camps 35 and 36 held a hunger-strike. It is known that the hunger-strike in  Camp 36 lasted a week, about 15 people taking part in it.

30 October, “Political Prisoners’ Day”, was marked by a one-day hunger-strike.

As punishment for taking part in the “Belgrade” hunger-strike A. Sergiyenko was deprived of his diet-food and treatment (see below “In Defence of Political Prisoners”).

*

At the end of September Valery Marchenko and Ivan Svetlichny were in hospital (in  Camp 35).

*

In October Marchenko was taken to Kiev. In the KGB they tried to persuade him to express repentance, gave him a meeting with his mother, who, fearing for his health, also tried to persuade him. In a letter to his mother written after the meeting V. Marchenko writes that however painful it was for him to see her in tears, he cannot “cancel himself out spiritually for the sake of a biological existence near his mother”. He writes further:

“As a teacher, you constantly taught us to be principled, you taught us the virtues which go to make up a decent person . . . You had and will have a son who loves his mother like no one else, whom this love and the qualities engendered by this love have helped to endure the most difficult moments, as well as in the struggle to acquire the right to call himself a man. This is your merit. It weighs incomparably more than the persuasive arguments which you brought to the meeting.”

(Quoted in translation from the Ukrainian.)

*

In September Petras Plumpa was transferred from  Camp 36 to 35.

*

In the period July-September S. Kovalyov sent six letters. The camp censorship let them through, but five of them were not received by the addressees. At the beginning of October Kovalyov stated that he was refraining from correspondence and would renew it only when he received a guarantee that legality was being observed in regard to his correspondence.

*

In May Kovalyov complained orally to procurator Orekhov about the confiscation from him of four pages from a notepad, which contained an unfinished (here there was an inaccuracy in  CCE 45) statement to the Procurator-General on the subject of the work of the KGB in camp. The notepad was handed over for verification on 29 November 1976 before a meeting with his barrister. The confiscation was based on point 29 in the “Instructions on MVD Censorship”: “confidential information”. Two days later Orekhov gave an oral reply: “Was unable to investigate the matter in essence, as the statement had been destroyed. I regard as admissible the removal for verification by the administration and the confiscation of any notes, including statements to the Procuracy, if they have not yet been finalized and not handed in to be sent.”

Diary of Camp 36

(In order not to break its integrity, episodes from the diary have not been excluded which have already been described in the Chronicle. References to issues of the Chronicle have been added.)

2 May.

Fyodorov threatened Svetlichny crudely with reprisals for allegedly poor work (in actual fact Svetlichny had done all the work demanded of him in the laundry, including during his time off; he was working on 2 May, i.e. a day off). On 4 and 5 May the conflict between Fyodorov and Svetlichny repeated itself. On 7 May the head of the unit, Dolmatov, summoned Svetlichny on a report from Fyodorov and threatened him with reprisals for “poor work”.

5 May.

Sapelyak was punished (he did not say “good day” to Fyodorov),

7 May.

Monastyrsky and Popadichenko were punished for refusing to appear at the summons of an officer (Monastyrsky had often been summoned without any reason in expectation of his failure to appear — a reason for punishment).

8 May.

 More than 20 political prisoners sent statements to the Procurator-General of the USSR in which they pointed out specific facts about the catastrophic state of medical help in the camp and the poor living conditions; each of the prisoners at the end of the statement demanded that representatives of the Red Cross be allowed to visit the camp. Statements were sent by Sarkisyan, Mattik, Plumpa, Kavoliunas, Monastyrsky, Mukhavnetshin, Zalmanson, Dymshits, Gluzman, Svetlichny, Kalynets, Marchenko, Sapelyak, Grinkiv, Demidov, Basarab, Protsen, Gerchak and Sergiyenko (see CCE 46; see also “Letters and Statements of Political Prisoners” in this issue).

10 May.

Gluzman received a reply from the Perm communications administration which said that his letter to Nina Ivanovna Bukovskaya of 3 January 1977 had been lost at Domodedovo airport.

11 May.

Reports drawn up against him for unfulfilled norms were brought against Marchenko.

14 May.

From this day the camp administration made prisoners do unpaid building work (putting up wooden fences, laying concrete on roads, plastering work, etc.); all this was carried out in the name of “improvement of the camp territory”, although the law specifies building and road works as not being covered by such “improvement”. Later a Perm procurator, Orekhov, confirmed the “legality” of the actions of administration in this regard.

16 May.

Fyodorov demanded that Svetlichny go out to build a fence, and Svetlichny refused. A procurator from the department for supervising places of imprisonment of the Regional Procuracy, Orekhov, arrived in the zone, together with Procurator Muradyan from Chusovoi.

A public delegation from the Kiev Region arrived in the zone: First Lieutenant of the KGB, Kirichek, Professor S. A. Krizhanovsky from the Institute of Literature of the Ukrainian Academy of Sciences, an official from the Ukrainian Ministry of Justice, Gumenko, and a worker from a chemical fertilizer plant in Kiev, Vasilev. They were shown round by Pomaz, Utyro and Chernyak of the KGB. The delegation summoned Ukrainian prisoners for conversations, Kirichek set the tone of the conversations, which was basically a rude one. We quote the record of the conversation with Kalynets:

Kalynets: “Who will I talk to — a delegation from the Ukrainian KGB or a public delegation?”

Kirichek: “With a public delegation of course.”

Kalynets: “l ask the representatives of the public to tell me what they, the Ukrainian public, have done, are doing and will do, in particular at the meeting in Belgrade, to free political prisoners?”

Kirichek (starting to shout): “We don’t have political prisoners; you are especially dangerous state criminals!”

Kalynets: “It was proposed to me I should chat with representatives of the public and not with the KGB.”

Krizhanovsky: “Each country has its laws which can’t be broken. You committed a crime…”

Kalynets: “Do you know the content of my sentence? Are you familiar with my case?”

Krizhanovsky (limply): “In general terms …”

Kalynets: “For your information I was convicted for creativity, there is nothing else there.”

Krizhanovsky: “Most likely your poetry was anti-Soviet.”

Kalynets: I don’t want to continue a conversation with such a ‘public’.”

Everyone, both KGB and the others: “Go away then!”

Kalynets went out. For the visit of the delegation to Camps 35 and 36, see also CCE 46.

17 May.

Svetlichny was brought to work on a machine. Lisovoi was ordered to collect his things before being transported from the camp. Lisovoi, who had been brought to the guard-house, was carefully searched (during the shift of officer Rak — the action was directed by KG B official Chepkasov); his notes were confiscated from him, including a “philosophical dictionary” which he had begun in Ukrainian (Lisovoi is a candidate of philosophical sciences and worked before his arrest in the Institute of Philosophy of the Ukrainian Aca-demy of Sciences).

23 May.

KGB Major Chernyak had lengthy conversations with Marchenko and Svetlichny; “cooperation” was proposed to Svetlichny in an extremely transparent form.

24 May.

Svetlichny obtained an admission from Doctor Petrov that he was in fact unfit to work (despite this, they continue to take him out to do work that he cannot endure, and to demand that he fulfil the norm). The same day a report was drawn up against him by Captain Rak and the head of the workshop, Svinin, for “a sloppy attitude towards work”. On the night of 24 to 25 May Svetlichny had a serious nosebleed.

25 May.

Basarab and Grinkiv were (secretly) digging beds planted with onions, when Fyodorov discovered them at it. Having ordered them to stop digging, he added: “We shall have to pour salt over this place, then nothing will grow here!”

25, 26 & 27 May.

In the zone a total search of prisoners’ belongings was carried out by officers and warders under the leadership of Chernyak and Chepkasov from the KGB. Notes, warm clothing and plastic bags were taken. Blank paper (standard sheets) was confiscated from Kovalyov, soup cubes from Basarab; these are a “prohibited food product”.

30 May.

Nelipovich punished Grinkiv for visiting another detachment.

2, 6, 13, 16, 20, 23, 27, 30 May.

For supper — rotten fish.

In May Doctor Titov was transferred to work in Perm (to a children’s camp), Petrov remained as the doctor in the camp.

30 May.

Kalynets handed in a statement to the head of the medical section requesting that he be placed on the so-called diet-food list in connection with his stomach illness. On 1 June Doctor Petrov replied to Kalynets orally that he had been refused a diet “by the accounts department”.

2 June.

A search of Sapelyak was carried out by Zhuravkov, Rak and several warders who were looking for something specific; a copy of his statement to Brezhnev was confiscated (see “Letters and Statements of Political Prisoners”). A KGB investigator arrived in the zone, and prisoners Mukhametshin and Ismagilov were interrogated; according to the investigator, Korekhov, who earlier served a term in  Camp 36, has been arrested again (released in 1976, CCE 41).

Monastyrsky and Sergiyenko were summoned to so-called educational chats and were threatened with reprisals for “violating the regime of confinement”. On the evening of 2 June Svetlichny had a heart attack but did not receive medical help.

3 June.

Reports were drawn up against Kazachkov, Svetlichny, Lisovoi and Popadichenko.

5 June.

Captain Rak confiscated a prayer book from Plumpa.

6 June.

General search in the living zone, led by KGB officer Chepkasov.

9 June.

For supper — rotten fish.

10 June.

For refusing to greet Fyodorov by standing up, Gluzman and Svetlichny were punished by him.

11 June.

A warning hunger-strike by Gluzman, demanding that his things be sent from  Camp 35 (statement to the Regional Procuracy).

13 June.

Lisovoi taken away from camp with all this things (to Kiev, CCE 46).

15 June.

In connection with the beginning of the conference in Belgrade 16 political prisoners sent statements to the Presidium of the USSR Supreme Soviet and held a hunger-strike (CCE 46). For refusing to work, Popadichenko is put in the cooler.

20 June.

Head of the workshop Svinin threatens Svetlichny with punishment for not fulfilling the norm. Then Svinin orders a group of political prisoners to go out to work in the open air in a temperature of 8 degrees, having refused to issue them with quilted jackets: “In winter it’s 8 degrees in the barrack too, and it’s all right, you live!” Night of 25 to 26 June. Fedyuk transported into exile.

28 June.

Marchenko informed that the parcel sent to him had been sent back as it contained “prohibited food products”.

29 June.

Fyodorov punished Svetlichny for not fulfilling the norm; from this moment Svetlichny declared a hunger-strike in protest against moral terror and legal tyranny and sent a corresponding statement to Brezhnev.

29 June.

Warder Rotenko confiscated pages from a journal, used as toilet paper, from Sapelyak in the production zone. Several hours later Major Fyodorov announced to Sapelyak that Rotenko had behaved correctly insofar as a prisoner was prohibited from taking any sort of paper, food products, tea, etc., into the production zone. A report was drawn up on this incident in which officer Dolmatov recorded: “Sapelyak said that Soviet power had brought him here (i.e. to the camp).” (Dolmatov considered this statement by Sapelyak punishable and anti-Soviet!)

30 June.

Popadichenko put in handcuffs in the cooler for refusing to work.

In June Borovoi, Parkhomenko, Tarakhovich and Boguk arrived in the camp after trial; all were convicted for cooperating with the Germans during the war [see Sovietskaya Belorussia, 19 May 1977].

In Other Camps and Prisons

On 24 August Vasily Barladyanu, sentenced to 3 years on 29 June ( CCE 46), was dispatched from Odessa and on 4 September he arrived in a camp in the village of Politsy, Rovno Region. Barladyanu was set to work in the cooler — hewing out crushed stone and loading it up; his norm is from six to eight cubic metres a day.

Details have become known of the hunger-strike declared by Barladyanu on 2 March at his arrest (CCE 44), which lasted until the end of the trial. Until 27 March he was kept in a common cell. On 12 March, after his usual refusal to take food, he was beaten up right in the cell by six warders. The beating stopped only when he lost consciousness. They brought him round and began to force-feed him. After the beating Barladyanu started to have incessant headaches and pains in his side, which did not pass until the autumn. Later on, he started to lose the use of his right arm and leg, and his left arm became almost paralysed. A doctor examined Barladyanu for the first time after the trial. He would not treat him, saying only that the pains and other symptoms were consequences of the hunger-strike.

In August KGB officials came to see Valentina Barladyanu; they insisted that she give up her intention of registering her marriage with Vasily (Vasily and Valentina were divorced, but were later reconciled), since, according to them, they would not allow him any visits anyway.

On 5 September, when he had reached the camp, a (2-hour) visit was in fact granted — the first since his arrest.

At the end of October KGB investigator Filippsky told Valentina Barladyanu that if anything about her husband leaked abroad, she would be arrested. Valentina replied that she was not afraid of threats. Filippsky asked her not to undertake anything before 4 November, promising to find out by then what the KGB could do to ease her husband’s situation. Soon she was invited to travel to the camp, and on 10 November her marriage to Vasily took place there, after which they were given a three-day visit.

In September and October Barladyanu’s health deteriorated. Pains developed in his heart, in his groin and under his knee, but he received no treatment. He wrote complaints to the Procurator of the Ukraine and the USSR Procurator-General, but the camp administration did not dispatch them. His relatives sent telegrams to the same people and also to the Ukrainian M V D and the head of the camp. On 9 November Barladyanu was examined by a doctor from the UVD medical service. On 24 November he was sent to Lvov. There he was given the diagnosis — first-degree hypertonia with swellings and brain haemorrhaging.

*

Mustafa Dzhemilev, who is in a camp in the Primorsky Region [Far East], should be released on 22 December 1977 ( CCE 40). In a letter of 20 October, he reported:

“… I have been deprived of the right to a meeting. At the same time, they have announced that I am being transferred to a brigade of loaders, i.e. it is evidently intended to create the necessary ‘milieu1. And in general, there are suspicious intrigues going on here, visits by the KGB…, reminiscent of the whole environment during my last days in the Omsk camp. 1 have handed in a statement demanding to be put in solitary.” (As a precaution against the planting of “witnesses” of anti-Soviet conversations, Chronicle).

On 23 October Mustafa declared a hunger-strike and was soon transferred to the cooler.

On 8 November, having received assurances from the administration that a case was not being prepared against him, Dzhemilev ended his hunger-strike.

He was nevertheless sent to a brigade of loaders. To requests by other prisoners to cancel this assignment in view of the state of his health, the camp doctor replied: “Who are you interceding for? He wants to take away your land. If he dies, that’s where he’ll be buried”.

At the end of October and beginning of November P. G. Grigorenko and A. D. Sakharov made statements about the possible instigation of a new criminal case against Dzhemilev. In the middle of November, they and Reshat Dzhemilev sent telegrams to [USSR Procurator General] Rudenko and [Minister of Internal Affairs] Shchelokov calling on them not to allow a new trumped-up trial of M. Dzhemilev. An inquiry about his condition was also sent to the head of the camp. (Nothing was yet known about the end of his hunger-strike.)

In view of his impending release, Mustafa Dzhemilev informed the camp administration that he wanted to settle with his parents in the Crimea (see “the Persecution of the Crimean Tatars” in this issue). The administration sent an inquiry to the Crimean Region and received a reply, dated 28 October, from the Belogorsk soviet executive committee:

“The parents of Mustafa Dzhemilev reside on the territory of Belogorsk district, Crimea Region, in flagrant violation of the residence regulations … As deported persons, their registration in the Crimea is subject to restrictions. In connection with the above, it is pointless to send M. Dzhemilev to the Crimea as he will be refused registration.

“Chairman of Oversight Commission”

On 30 November M. Dzhemilev was dispatched to Tashkent by aeroplane (with special escort and in handcuffs).

*

Yury Litvin (CCE 39, 46), who was serving a 3-year term in corrective labour institution No. 25 (Komi Autonomous Republic), asked in April 1977 to be put forward for “conditional release with compulsory recruitment for work”, but subsequently he was left in camp on the basis of the medical report of Doctor Frolova: “Litvin cannot be sent to a building site as he has a work assignment and is ill.” Two weeks later Frolova refused Litvin diet-food (he has an ulcer) after writing that he was “absolutely healthy”.

On 3 May Litvin wrote a statement “to the chairman of the KGB of the Komi ASSR” in which he described the harassment of him by the administration. In particular — because of the “diagnosis” of Frolova, who announced that he was pretending — he nearly died (perforation of ulcer, which took place in the cooler where he was sent for “simulation” and where he was kept, nonetheless, for the whole of the 10 days assigned to him), out was saved in the republican hospital. In his statement Litvin expressed the conviction that all this was being done as part of “a special plan on the part of the highest authorities in regard to dissenters” and that the KGB was among those involved. A K G B representative who arrived at the camp tried to convince him that the KGB did not interfere in the activities of corrective-labour institutions.

On 16 May, three days after this conversation, head of institution 25, Lieutenant-Colonel Dobrynin, swearing obscenely, told Litvin off for his complaint, and in reply to his objections sent him to the cooler.

On 22 May Litvin sent a complaint to Andropov, urging him not only to restore justice in regard to him, Litvin, but also to wage a struggle against the inhuman procedures in the camps, as these created fertile soil for the growth of anti-state activity.

After writing a letter to the Komi Region Party committee, in which Litvin described the circumstances of the death of a 29-year-old prisoner who died from a heart attack without any medical assistance at all, on 12 July Litvin was called out to the Council of the Colony Collective and again sent to the cooler for 15 days “for slander”. For the whole of this period Litvin kept up a hunger-strike, demanding that the procurator be called.

On 1 August Litvin wrote an open letter to Brezhnev; in it he set forth the history of his persecution in camp and linked it with the existing inhuman practice of “re-education” in the labour-camp system. In this letter he also states: “. . . I have committed no crime against the workers of the Soviet Union … or against the working people of any country … In my works, for which I was convicted by the regional court, I wrote the truth and only the truth, and it is not my fault that the truth is persecuted in our country.” (See also “Releases”.)

*

A worker from Magadan, Victor Kuzmich Gridasov (Chronicies 44, 46), who had served a half-year term of imprisonment in a camp near Magadan, was not released at the end of his sentence (26 May 1977). In May he was charged under article 190-1 of the RSFSR Criminal Code. From the moment the new charge was brought Gridasov declared a hunger-strike and kept it up for 75 days.

The case was heard in the Magadan Region Court on 3 September. I.Ya. Nazin was presiding, and the prosecutor was deputy procurator of the region M. I. Guryayev. Gridasov was charged with the oral spreading of slanderous fabrications (some of the witnesses were from the camp) and with writing a letter to the newspaper Baltimore Sun; in the letter he described the persecution to which he was being subjected for trying to give up his Soviet citizenship and to emigrate (he had handed in an official statement and paid the tax), and certain events which were taking place in Magadan. For example, the self- immolation outside the regional Party headquarters in 1976 of a man who had despaired of obtaining a place to live.

His sentence was 2 years of imprisonment.

On 6 September the newspaper Magadan Truth (Magadanskaya pravda) printed an article by B. Ulasovsky, “The Shadow of Herostratus”, about Gridasov and his trial.

The article says about the corpus delicti:

“… Through his friends he tried to send slanderous letters to the American newspaper Baltimore Sun. But his chums proved to be sufficiently sensible and the letters fell into the hands of another addressee. As a result, they figured at the trial, …

“Dozens of witnesses at the pre-trial and judicial investigation confirmed that Gridasov had falsely claimed in conversation with them that there was a lack of genuinely democratic freedoms in our country and had alleged that tyranny was exercised over the workers.”

The greater part of the article is composed of information vilifying Gridasov: an “artistic” description of his meeting with Americans (journalists and a consul) in Moscow, his “criminal past” (hooliganism and violating the residence regulations), his quarrelsome disposition at work, and his amoral family behaviour. These accusations use real facts from the biography of Gridasov, but distort or ignore the true circumstances, which essentially alter their meaning.

*

Julia Voznesenskaya, on her way from Vorkuta to a camp (CCE 46), was by chance an eyewitness of certain events which she described in a letter:

“On 21 August a prisoner-transport of girls arrived at Novosibirsk Prison from an educational labour colony, on their way to an ‘adult’ camp (a corrective labour colony), because they had reached the age of 18.

“On the morning of 22 August, the girls were taken to the baths. That evening they were taken to the baths again. This time (it appears from the behaviour of the wardress that it was a customary ‘joke’) they were deliberately showered first with boiling water, then with cold water, which it was impossible to avoid in the crowded shower- room. After the showers, the girls were driven naked along the corridor, where a laughing crowd of men — warders and prisoners who worked for the administration — had gathered. All this took place under the eyes of a young doctor and the warder on duty.

“The main battle took place at night. Already during the day, the senior warder had threatened the girls with punishment because they were singing in their cell.

“At midnight the door opened, and two duty warders appeared — with a fireman’s hose in their hands. ‘We’ll give you a farewell bath,’ they declared. Other warders were standing in the corridor . . . Two of them came into the cell and began to spray a powerful jet of cold water over the girls, chasing them around the cell. Many of them were undressed, then one warder sprayed and beat them with the hose, while the other threw them out into the corridor one by one. In the corridor the prison guards on duty were drawn up in two rows. The girls were made to run between the ranks of about 24 men, who beat them with their fists, with the hosepipe and with their keys. Then they were driven through underground corridors into ‘box’ cells. These corridors are damp, filthy, with pools of water in them and almost without light. The girls ran down them half-naked, in their bare feet, the healthy along with the sick. They were led up from the cellar into a corridor, towards the ‘box’ cells. The guards had gone around by another corridor and were ranged once more in two ranks, waiting for them. They were made to run the gauntlet a second time. All of them were locked in a ‘box’ cell for four persons — 21 girls altogether. Then the guards discussed among themselves the need to make somebody clear up the cell). They let out five girls and took them back to the cell: ‘If you don’t get it cleared up in 5 minutes, watch out!’ The table had been overturned, the bunks had been pushed over and there was water up to their ankles in the cell.

“In the ‘box’ cell, the girls were afraid to speak even in whispers. They began to find it hard to breathe. From the corridor they heard insults and threats. The guards threatened to put them in handcuffs, in straitjackets, to give them a thrashing. 10 minutes later they were all starting to suffocate. The first to lose consciousness was Sveta Medvedeva. The girls began to knock on the door, asking to be let out, asking that Sveta be taken out. ‘When she snuffs it, then we’ll open up.’ But they did nevertheless open the door after 15 minutes. The wardress on duty ordered the girls to put Sveta on the floor and go back into the ‘box’ again.

“Sveta regained consciousness in the medical section. The medical orderlies looked over her case-history, saw that she was in bad health and began to enquire why she was travelling without medical care. In Sveta’s presence a telephone call informed the medical orderlies that Natasha Kachulina had begun to have an epileptic fit. The doctor told the orderlies, ‘They’re just getting what they deserve. They’re pretending anyway.’

“Another girl, who had also suffered from epilepsy since childhood, began to have a fit; she too was refused medical assistance. Both of them had their illness already noted in their case histories, which they had with them.

Tanya Tapenya had an attack of breathlessness. She fell on the floor, crouched down and began to tear at her throat with her fingers, then lost consciousness. The girls again began to beat on the door. The door was opened, permission was given to let out all three of them, and they were thrown on the cold cement floor. Because of the cold the girls regained consciousness. They were immediately told to go into another ‘box’. They did not have the strength to do so. They were shouted at and threatened. They crawled along the floor on all fours into the ‘box’ they were assigned to. There was one male warder in the corridor and two wardresses. They mocked the girls and laughed at them for not being able to get up and for crawling on all fours, calling them dogs and bitches, and insulting them in foul language. Tanya Tapenya kept repeating ‘I’ve never, never been so insulted.’

“The three girls were locked in a big cell, but it had a wet cement floor, with pools of water on it. However, they did not get up off the floor.

“In the small ‘box’, the next to lose consciousness was Ira Rusak, a perfectly healthy girl. She was followed by Ira Evseyeva. The girls knocked on the door for 25 minutes. Then the door was opened, and they were ordered ‘Out, all of you’. They were taken to the ‘box’ where the other three were. There they sat till morning, sitting or standing on the wet cement floor. There were two benches, but everyone could not sit on them. Ira Medvedeva was also brought there from the medical section. Zhenya Vlasova began to have cramps in her legs. At 5 o’clock in the morning they could hold out no longer and began to knock (some of them were in their under-wear, one only had her underpants on — and all of them were wet through). The wardress said: if you keep knocking, you’ll sit there all day!’ They were taken out only in time for breakfast. In their cell they fell asleep on wet mattresses.”

The next day Voznesenskaya demanded that the prison administration should start an investigation. The prison authorities interviewed those who had suffered and promised to punish those responsible, I don’t believe their promises,” writes Voznesenskaya. ‘The authorities showed very little surprise at this story.’ (Some of the girls had suffered similar torments in the same prison in December 1975 and in November 1976.)

A Camp Revolt

From 28 January to 8 April 1977 the Omsk Region court held a closed hearing on the riots which took place on 21-23 August 1976 in corrective labour colony 8 (Omsk Region).

17 people faced charges according to Article 77, paragraph 1 (“actions disorganizing the work of corrective-labour institutions”) and Article 79 of the RSFSR Criminal Code (“mass rioting”). They were sentenced to between 6 and 10 years in strict-regime camps (two got special-regime), in addition to the sentences they were already serving (most of them were serving 2 to 6 years for hooliganism and robbery).

According to the verdict the revolt had begun in the camp prison. The prisoners there had broken down the doors to the cells and the prison and began to call for support from those in the camp zone itself. During the ensuing riots, some small buildings were destroyed and some activists among the prisoners were beaten up. Troops were summoned, but they met resistance (stones, sticks and barricades round the barracks) and could not immediately restore order. One of the statements to the appeal court said:

The revolt came about on impulse. The prisoners had their reasons, for which the camp administration was to blame; in particular camp officials had blackmailed and beaten up prisoners more than once. They also tried to recruit informers by any means . . . They tried to humiliate those prisoners who refused their offers before the others and spread vile rumours about them, thus creating hostility among the prisoners themselves.

One of those sentenced at the trial recounted:

“On 21 August 1976, at 10 o’clock at night, rumours started going round the camp zone that prisoners were being beaten up in the punishment cells and a fire-engine was sent there. Many prisoners assembled and all of them set off for the cells, as they knew that the fire-engine was summoned only to subdue prisoners. There had been many cases of prisoners being beaten by the camp administration ….

“One such case was when Corporal Beloborodov, who was in charge of the cells and the camp prison, insulted the prisoner Ulyashov, calling him a ‘pederast’. Ulyashov replied to this in foul language. He was taken out of his cell, put in handcuffs and hung up or- a fence; then they began to beat him, concentrating their blows on his liver and kidneys. Those who beat him were Beloborodov, and Vdabenko, head of the military guard, also a corporal. After the beating, Ulyashov was put in a solitary cell. Medical assistance was summoned. Captain Klara Andreyevna Putalova, head of the medical section, came. In answer to Ulyashov’s complaints, she told him he was pretending to be ill. The prisoners who were in the punishment cells began to shout and protest. Ulyashov was transferred from solitary to Cell 7. A little later there was another attempt to enter his cell. He would not allow anyone in, as he knew they were going to beat him again. Those in charge summoned the fire-engine. They soaked Ulyashov with a jet of water and then entered the cell. The prisoners protested loudly and declared a hunger-strike, so that the procurator would be summoned. Ulyashov was put in Cell 6, with the prisoner Koltsov, who had been involved in the revolt. He saw what kind of state Ulyashov was in when he was thrown into the cell. He had been beaten with a fireman’s hose, boots and a wooden stick. The next day Ulyashov was taken away from camp 8, but we don’t know where. We sent a complaint to the procurator’s office, asking for those in charge to be dismissed, to which he agreed, but nothing happened; the officials in charge keep on working as they have always done, and have begun to behave even worse to the prisoners . . . The security section is working well too. A prisoner who refused to work for this section was beaten up a number of times . . . The prisoner Shubin was summoned in December 1975 and offered work as an informer. He refused, so he was stripped naked and sent back to his section on the other side of the camp in 40 degrees of frost…,

“After the revolt, the following officials were among those removed from their posts: deputy political officer Major Kartavtsev, Lieutenant-Colonel Polyakov, deputy head for regime, Captain Putalova, head of the medical section, and the senior security official, First Lieutenant Kirillov. This means they were considered in some sense responsible for provoking the spontaneous revolt . . . Troops were brought into camp 8. Security official Lieutenant Kershtein was standing by the watchtower. He indicated with his fingers who was to be seized. That prisoner was then made to run between two ranks of soldiers. They had cudgels in their hands and with these they ‘sent’ the prisoner on his way to the prison wagon. We were taken straight to the town of Tavsa [Tavricheskoe?] and from there to Omsk prison. There we spent almost a year. The trial was in closed court. Relatives were not allowed in. They were allowed into the courtroom only for the verdict. The judge did not allow the prisoners to say anything in their defence. The witnesses and those who were injured were questioned by him only after he read out the evidence they had given at the pre-trial investigation. Then they had to give evidence agreeing with what he had read. Many did not ‘remember’ what they had said at the pre-trial investigation, and he would then assist them.”