Samizdat Update, May 1975 (36.12)

[1] Boris Khazanov, “The New Russia” (9 pages)

The author discusses Motherland, patriotism and the problem of emigration.

“Fear and the slavery which we imbibed with our mothers’ milk have prevented us from pushing off from the shore.

“This means that we are unworthy of being called free men and unworthy of freedom. We deserve our fate, as is always the case. However, I do not wish to admit that I am a slave, neither do I wish to renounce my mother. I have found a way out. I have formulated a guiding thought for myself, and I cannot help it if it appears absurd. An absurd truth is born of absurd circumstances. In a sea of debris the only thing I can hang onto is the Russian language. My faith in the language has replaced my faith in the people, the God that is dead. The Russian language is my only homeland. […]

“History has seen a New England and a New Holland … a Russian colony could be established somewhere in Canada, Australia, New Zealand, or in any suitable place. Let us agree on a country and let us all go there… There, in a new land, as if on a new planet, we shall develop our freedom, preserve our language, our way of thinking, our culture, and our old homeland.”

So ends this article, written by a ‘bared soul’.

[2] Danylo Shumuk, “A Fragment from the End of an Investigation” (June 1972)

His small, four-page extract was written in Camp 1 in the Mordovian camp complex, where the author has been serving a 10-year sentence since 1972 (CCE 28; see also “Letters and Statements” in this issue).

The author describes his first meeting with the defence lawyer Karpenko:

“I have already acquainted myself with your case, Danylo Lavrentevich. I have carefully read all your work” (this refers to his memoirs My Past Remembered, Chronicle). “I must admit that your work, although it is only a draft, is very well written. If this work were to become widely known, your name would echo throughout the world.

“But this will not happen: your entire work has ended up here, being investigated by the authorities, and you yourself are behind bars. No power can get you out of here, I tell you this as your lawyer. In your work you have spoken disrespectfully about sacred matters — Lenin and the October Revolution — and consequently I, a Soviet lawyer, cannot defend you as an innocent man. Only repentance can help you, Danylo Lavrentevich, and if you don’t repent you will be cruelly punished; in that case, I fear you will never see freedom again.”

The 58-year-old Danylo Shumuk received the maximum penalty prescribed in Article 62, Part 2 of the Ukrainian Criminal Code: 10 years imprisonment plus five years in exile.

[My Past Remembered was published in Ukrainian in the West in 1974 by the Smoloskyp Publishers.]

[3] A. Markov, “Reflections on a Sentence

The author aims to examine the case of Vladimir Maramzin in its political, legal and moral aspects, so that “all those who are in danger of being caught at any moment in the merciless grasp of Soviet justice can learn the necessary lessons from it”.

The author attributes Maramzin’s arrest to his unusual vigorous activity in connection with the Leningrad searches and the arrest of Mikhail Heifets (see CCE 34.2, 31 December 1974). In the author’s opinion the investigators and the court did not follow the usual line of refusing to admit Maramzin’s status as a writer, as was earlier the case with “the actual best known masters of the word”, because in this scenario it was precisely a writer who was to ‘confess’ and to ‘make the revelations’.

“In this sense Maramzin turned out to be a real find, a piece of luck that could not be disregarded. Until then, there had been no success in getting any persecuted writer to accept without protest that the application of the concept ‘anti-Soviet’ to a work of art could be correct, to unmask ‘the subversive character’ of creative literature, or to explain how creative literature as a form of political propaganda could harm the State.”

Examining the problem of ‘repentance’, the author writes,

“ ‘Repentance at one’s trial is immoral’, G.G. Superfin declared at his own trial and got five years in the Perm camps to be followed by exile. It must be assumed that he meant that ‘repentance’ at a political trial could not be sincere, because, as a rule, it results from fear of punishment, and a desire to buy mercy.”

Calling Maramzin’s ‘repentance’ the result of a deal with unprincipled partners, the author maintains that the moral intentions of executioners and their victims cannot be placed on the same plane, no matter how touching is their complicity during the trial (see CCE 35.4, 31 March 1975). While rejoicing at Maramzin’s release, the author sharply condemns the attempts of some of his friends “to exalt his alleged services by saying that he had not given anyone away or put anyone inside, i.e. that he had successfully defended his right not to be an informer”. He sees the security police’s aim to be not so much the placing of Maramzin’s acquaintances in the dock for reading and disseminating samizdat, but “the breaking of a man, his demoralization and corruption”, and, consequently, “the undermining of the democratic movement inside the country and the discrediting of it in the eyes of world opinion … , also the rebuttal of Western slanderers and the restoration of the prestige of the greatest and most democratic of states.”

The author hopes that someday Maramzin will himself describe what pressures he was subjected to and cites a few known examples of the stick and carrot treatment connected with the case: the disproportionately heavy sentence passed on Heifets when Maramzin was still refusing to give evidence: various problems concerning the residence permit of Maramzin’s wife; and “of course, the chief promise held out to him was that of freedom and the right to emigrate to Israel”. (The author speaks of this with conviction, although only Maramzin and the KGB officials know whether this was a direct promise or a silent hint, Chronicle.)

The author describes the entire staging of the trial, acted out according to a pre-rehearsed script; he is particularly cutting in his irony when dealing with the defence counsel’s speech, the theme of which was: “It is impermissible to be offended by one’s Motherland.” The counsel, S.A. Kheifets, managed to eliminate from the indictment the letter of Pyotr Grigorenko and Alexei Kostyorin [d. 1968], not even questioning the anti-Soviet character of this and other documents. He explained Maramzin’s political ignorance by the fact that at a certain point in his life he had stopped reading Soviet papers and listening to Soviet radio; and in deciding on the punitive measures to be taken, he agreed with the sentence in principle, but summoned up the courage to ask for a sentence of less than five years!

The author pays particular attention to Maramzin’s letter to Le Monde, which was cited as proof of the sincerity of his repentance. The letter is full of contradictions and lacks cohesion, thus giving rise to doubts about its true authorship; Maramzin speaks here with an alien voice. Referring to a phrase from Maramzin’s letter about how the writer feels humiliated at being used as a pawn in political machinations, the author concludes: “This is true, but unfortunately Vladimir Maramzin has quite consciously become a pawn in political machinations. Not in the West, however, but in his own country.”

[4] N. Stroganov: “From Tsepnoi to Anichkov, Reflections and Feelings of Shame”

An article-pamphlet on the same theme.