An Unpublished Decree, July 1974 (32.11)

«No 32 : 17 July 1974»

An Unpublished Decree of the Presidium of the USSR Supreme Soviet, No. 3707-VIII, 25 December 1972.

As the Chronicle reported (CCE 30.13, December 1973) this decree had been applied to several citizens. From January to June 1974 a number of other citizens were issued with a caution on the basis of the decree:

  • Anatoly Marchenko (Tarusa),
  • Irina Kristi,
  • Leonard Ternovsky,
  • Nina Lisovskaya,
  • Vladimir Rokityansky,
  • Ludmila Alexeyeva,
  • Tatyana Velikanova,
  • Tatyana Bayeva,
  • Alexander Voronel,
  • Anatoly Krasnov-Levitin [with the above, all Moscow]
  • and Leonid Tymchuk (Odessa).

According to rumours, R. Pimenov (Komi Autonomous Republic [Northwest Russia]) was also cautioned; and Vitaly Rubin received a caution in a peculiar oral form.

It has become known that Decree No. 3707-VIII, “On Issuing a Caution as a Preventative Measure”, is stamped “Not for publication”.[1] Several citizens subjected to its application have not even been shown the text of the decree. T. Bayeva was told that it would take a long time to find. A. Voronel, on the other hand, was invited, if he wished, to read the text in any legal advice office, but was not shown the decree when issued with his caution. I. Kristi and T. Velikanova were informed [falsely] that the Decree had been published in the Gazette of the Supreme Soviet.

The text of each caution lists the anti-social activities of the person being cautioned. Sometimes these are specific acts: in the case of Bayeva, a journey to the trial of G. Superfin; in the case of A. Marchenko, writing the book My Testimony and a number of letters and statements; in the case of Irina Kristi the law which she was on the point of breaking was designated, as Article 74 of the RSFSR Criminal Code, “Violation of national [ethnic] and racial equality”.

A man calling himself an official of “state organizations” gave V. Rubin a verbal warning (without showing him the decree or a caution) and informed him that he would be called to account under Article 64, “High treason”. (V. Rubin was a member of the programme committee of the International Scientific Seminar [CCE 32.12 this issue], as was A. Voronel.)

The procedure preceding the issuing of a caution varies. Some people are summoned to KGB headquarters: A. Marchenko was summoned from Tarusa to Moscow. Others are driven there by KGB personnel straight from work (L. Alexeyeva) or from home (T. Bayeva). Yet others are cautioned in local KGB district offices (L. Ternovsky, N. Lisovskaya, T. Velikanova, I. Kristi) or at a police station (A. Voronel). In every case, except for the mysterious warning given to V. Rubin, a KGB official reads out the caution.


The decree says that in the event of failure to answer a summons, citizens can be subjected to attendance under escort. In effect, L. Alexeyeva, T. Bayeva and others, who were taken to the KGB from work or from home, were subjected to compulsion, even though they had not been in a position to evade a summons, as they had not received one.

Voronel received a summons inviting him to the Procurator’s office, but before the appointed date he was seized on the street, pushed into a car by force (in the course of this the car drove into a crowd at a trolleybus stop), taken first to the Lubyanka and from there to police station No. 46. Here a record was drawn up saying that he had resisted the police, although the men who arrested him were not in uniform did not produce any documents and had in fact been told by their superiors to take him to a police nation). After he had been cautioned, the police or KGB officials who had detained him started to shadow him, and in the evening, they surrounded him and his wife at the entrance to their building, threatening to beat him up. They continued to tail him for several days. This is what “attendance under escort due to failure to appear” means in practice.

It is important to note that in many cases the issuing of a caution is accompanied by “educative” measures at the place of work. A conversation is conducted by a chief administrator, the Party organizer and the trade-union organizer, as a rule in the presence of a KGB official. Material for the conversation is provided by the “case file”, sent to the place of employment from the KGB. This contains the testimony of other persons (often already convicted) against the given person; copies of documents written or signed by him — protests, open letters, statements, etc.; search records; and a character profile compiled by the KGB. The materials are assembled tendentiously; evidence in favour of the person, also his own explanations, are not included in the “case file”. Naturally the materials from the KGB seem to the officials of non-judicial institutions to be authoritative and not in need of proof, and in this way an attitude of suspicion and mistrust towards the person develops on the part of his employers. Prophylactic chats were conducted with T. Velikanova, L. Alexeyeva, L. Ternovsky, N. Lisovskaya, and others.

Citizens subjected to a caution have protested orally and in writing against the application of this measure. The grounds for the protests have been as follows:

1) they did not commit the acts ascribed to them (N. Lisovskaya and I. Kristi had not heard of the existence of a group called “The Democratic Movement”),

2) disagreement with the description of their actions (L. Ternovsky: “I do not regard my activities as anti-Soviet or harmful”); A. Voronel: “The international seminar is a scientific, not a political undertaking; a fortiori, it is not anti-Soviet and not nationalistic: scientists of various nationalities will take part in it”,

3) the caution is issued on the basis of an unpublished decree, consequently it is illegal (A. Marchenko: “This decree is a document of your samizdat”).

The content of the decree and the cautions are causing bewilderment. On the one hand, actions formulated in the terminology used for crimes are defined as being anti-social but not ing criminal accountability. On the other hand, citizens are warned that if they continue their activities which are not subject to criminal prosecution, they will be considered to be breaking the law: A. Voronel, for example, was warned precisely of this.

It may be surmised that the aim of those who drew up the decree was to surmount the inconvenient and inflexible formulations of Articles 70 and 190-1 of the RSFSR Criminal Code. Article 70 regards as criminal only an action that is consciously directed against the Soviet system; Article 190-1 corrected Article 70 by removing the question of an action’s aims, but it regards as criminal that sort of information which is libellous, or knowingly false, i.e. it once again makes things turn on the motives of an action. This is extremely inconvenient for the investigators, the court and the prosecutor. If, though, there has been a caution, the investigators and the court have the chance to restrict their investigations to the involvement of the accused in the action itself, the harmfulness of which he has been informed about earlier. In devising this, however, the legislators have not allowed for the fact that every person has the right to retain his own subjective opinions, irrespective of the prescriptions of higher bodies.

The following KGB officials are known to have issued “cautions”: Lieutenant-Colonel Anfisov, Knyazev, Major I.D. Yeremeyev, Zhernov and I.S. Romanov.


[1] The text of the decree can be found in the Bukovsky Archive — Prophylactic warnings, 16 November 1972 (Pb 67/xviii) “Not for publication”.