A Letter to the Chronicle from G. Superfin, May 1975 (36.13)

At the end of March 1974, on reading the materials of my ‘criminal’ case (No. 27), conducted by the Oryol Region KGB, I officially informed Captain Oleg S. Ilin, who led the investigation (see a reference to him in the “Statement to the Press” made by E.V. Barabanov on 15 September 1973), that I would bring to public notice certain KGB reviews of Russian literary works.

These KGB reviews are the official judgements of the Committee [of State Security], and are used by its officials in their detective, ideological, and investigative activities. I have taken them from the so-called ‘inspection reports’.

This is from the ‘inspection report’ on Osip E. Mandelstam’s poems: “The subject matter of some of these is ideologically immoderate.”

From the ‘inspection report’ on Alexander I. Solzhenitsyn’s One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich:

“The contents of this short novel are ideologically harmful. The author describes events connected with the period of Stalin’s cult of personality, and tendentiously concentrates on the events in one day in the life of prisoners, and of the severity of their living conditions. There is an exaggerated emphasis on the allegedly unbearable cruelty of the camp regime.”

From the ‘inspection report’ on A. I. Solzhenitsyn’s Cancer Ward:

“Like his other works, it is written on a labour camp theme in a rough kind of slang. The author describes the period from 1937 to 1954 … exaggerating and blowing out of proportion the mistakes and shortcomings that took place then. He defames our social and political system and libels Soviet reality.”

From the ‘inspection report’ on Nadezhda Ya. Mandelstam’s Memoirs:

“The Memoirs recount the persecution and repression to which O. Mandelstam and his wife were allegedly subjected during the period of the Cult of Personality … The author of the Memoirs tendentiously describes Soviet reality in the pre-war period, and tries to make out that at that time the greater part of the talented and progressive intelligentsia — especially poets and writers — were being repressed by the Party and administrative organs.”

Other ‘inspection reports’ infer that Marina Tsvetayeva’s ”An Evening Elsewhere”, M.A. Bulgakov’s Fateful Eggs, and Andrei Bely’s ”Revolution and Culture” were meaningless, and inartistic, and harmful.

These reviews were signed by First Lieutenant Alexander Georgievich Gubinsky, an official of the KGB investigation section (who also took part in the famous investigation of Case No 24), and by Lieutenant Boris Gimarzevich Redkozubov in the Tambov Region.


G. Superfin