Andrei Tverdokhlebov’s Trial, 14-15 April 1976 (40.2)

Andrei Nikolayevich TVERDOKHLEBOV was born in Moscow in 1940; he is a physicist. He was one of the founders of the Human Rights Committee (in December 1972 he left the Committee, CCE 29.11). In September 1973 he founded “Group 73”, together with V. Arkhangelsky, V. Albrekht and I. Korneyev (CCE 30.14, item 7).

Andrei Tverdokhlebov, 1940-2011

Tverdokhlebov was one of the compilers of the Amnesty International volumes circulated as samizdat in the USSR. He was secretary of the Soviet Amnesty International group; the president is Valentin Turchin.

At the beginning of 1975 the book Andrei Tverdokhlebov in Defence of Human Rights (editor V. Chalidze) was published by the Khronika Press in New York. After a number of searches and interrogations in the winter of 1974-75 (CCE 34-35), Tverdokhlebov was arrested on 18 April 1975 (CCE 36.1).


The trial of Tverdokhlebov, like that of Mustafa Dzhemilev (this issue CCE 40.3), was originally fixed for 6 April. By then the Moscow City Court had received a declaration from Tverdokhlebov’s friends and relations. They asked for arrangements to be made to ensure that the courtroom would be large enough to accommodate all those who wished to attend and who had announced in advance their intention to be present. The authors cited as a precedent the trial of Vyacheslav Igrunov in Odessa (this issue, CCE 40.5). The declaration was signed by 35 persons.

On 4 April Ye. Bonner and A. Sakharov issued the following statement to the press:

“Two trials are to take place on 6 April: that of Andrei Tverdokhlebov in Moscow and that of Mustafa Dzhemilev in Omsk.

“Andrei Tverdokhlebov is a very close friend of ours, almost like a member of our family. On countless occasions his help, advice, sympathy and his mere presence have supported us in our tense and difficult life. We should like to be near him during the trial, even if we and our friends are not allowed into the courtroom, which has unfortunately become a shameful tradition as regards political trials in the USSR.

“However, the trial in Omsk is taking place in even more tragic circumstances. Dzhemilev, one of the leaders of the Crimean Tatar movement to return to the Crimea, is being threatened with a fourth term of imprisonment. For nine months he has been on hunger-strike in protest against the charges, which are based on false evidence. In Omsk there are no facilities for foreign correspondents, not even the limited means of publicity which exist in Moscow.

“Faced with a difficult choice, we have decided to travel to Omsk. We hope that public opinion in our country and abroad will concentrate equally on both trials. We are hoping for international interventions in defence of Andrei Tverdokhlebov and Mustafa Dzhemilev.”

However, on 6 April the trial of Andrei Tverdokhlebov (like that of Dzhemilev) was postponed, “because of the illness of the judge”. In addition, measures were taken on that day to keep undesirable members of the public away from the courtroom. For example, Tatyana Velikanova was refused permission to take a day off work at her own expense on 6 April.

The trial of Tverdokhlebov, like the trial of Dzhemilev in Omsk and that of Valery Maresin in Vilnius, began a week later, on 14 April. The case was heard by an assizes’ session of the Moscow City Court, held in the building of the Lyublino district people’s court (14 Yegorevskaya Street) on the outskirts of Moscow.

As usual, the courtroom turned out to be full in advance. Only the closest relatives were allowed in, while other people were first pushed away from the courtroom door and then pushed out of the courthouse altogether on to the street.

A group of citizens (27 persons) sent a collective telegram to the Procurator-General. The telegram reported that the trial was being conducted “with violations of basic procedural norms such as the [lack of] publicity of court proceedings”. The Procurator-General was asked to take “immediate steps to restore legality”.

The First Secretary of a department at the US embassy made an attempt to get into the court building. He was asked for authorization from his ambassador. When he returned half an hour later with such an authorization, he was asked to obtain permission from the USSR Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The diplomat did not trouble to go to the Ministry, but stayed on the street together with others who had not been allowed in.


The trial began at 9 o’clock in the morning.

Judge Bogdanov: Docs the accused wish to challenge any of the members of the court?

Tverdokhlebov: I don’t challenge anyone.

Judge Bogdanov: In other words, you trust the court?

Tverdokhlebov: No, I don’t trust the court. But I don’t wish to make use of my right to challenge anyone.

Bogdanov announced that out of 29 witnesses summoned, 16 were present. The following witnesses were missing — I. Rudakov, V. N. Tverdokhlebov, Lyubarskaya, Kalnenko (the last two were employees of the Dnepropetrovsk special psychiatric hospital), R. Pimenov, V. Kozovoi, Kuznetsov, Kirsanova, Keller, and also the prisoners V. Arkhangelsky, Vituris, Gricius and Kurnikov. The court decided to proceed with the trial without the absent witnesses.

The defendant asked the court to allow anyone who wished to do so to attend the trial — his relatives, friends and acquaintances.

The judge asked Tverdokhlebov to say exactly whom he wished to see in the courtroom. Tverdokhlebov asked that all those who had signed a declaration asking for permission to be present in court (see below) be allowed into the courtroom but did not name anyone. He felt that all those who had come to the courthouse should be allowed in. Prosecutor (procurator) Prazdnikova objected: “The defendant is asking us to let just anyone in …” Defence counsel Yudovich supported Tverdokhlebov’s request insofar as it applied to his relatives. The court denied the request.

Tverdokhlebov asked for permission to re-examine Volume 40 of the evidence. He explained that he had not read this volume carefully enough, and, in addition, he suspected that some new documents might have been added to it.

The prosecutor objected. The judge insisted that there was no evidence unknown to Tverdokhlebov in Volume 40. The defendant again asked to be given the opportunity of glancing at the contents of this volume “if only for a few minutes”. The court allowed him this opportunity. Tverdokhlebov turned over the last few pages and stated that he had been right: there was some new evidence in the volume. The court gave Tverdokhlebov ten minutes to examine these documents.

Tverdokhlebov also inquired why he had not been released from detention after the pre-trial investigation was over and asked to be shown the document sanctioning his detention after 18 November. Judge Bogdanov replied that Tverdokhlebov had been held under arrest on a lawful basis.

From the indictment

“Having chosen as a form of criminal activity the drawing up of collective letters, declarations and appeals which contained libels against the Soviet system, in 1970-1975 A.N. Tverdokhlebov prepared, drew up, reproduced and distributed such letters …

“In October 1970, together with other persons, he signed a letter to the Nobel Prize Committee in which the angry condemnation of Solzhenitsyn’s activities by the Soviet people and world public opinion was referred to as ‘a national disgrace’ and it was libellously asserted that the award of the Nobel Prize to Solzhenitsyn might serve as an excuse for intensifying the campaign against him…

“In 1971, he assembled a collection of documents written by R. Medvedev, A. Volpin and V. Chalidze, which included deliberately false statements about the use of psychiatry for repressive purposes in the USSR… In July 1971, together with others, he drew up and sent an appeal to the fifth World Congress of Psychiatrists in Mexico, in which he libellously stated that in the USSR ‘dissenters’ were placed in psychiatric hospitals …

“In September 1973, he sent to Bernard Dixon, chief editor of the journal New Scientist, the text of a declaration sent by Zhitnikova, wife of L. Plyushch, to the Head of the Corrective Labour Department, accompanied by his own commentary, which contained libellous statements to the effect that Plyushch had been placed in Dnepropetrovsk Special Psychiatric Hospital with many violations of proper procedure and that this hospital …was the most terrible..,

“In February 1974 he drew up, signed and sent a letter to the International Red Cross, the so-called ‘Committee for Human Rights’, and the ‘International League for the Rights of Man’, appealing to them to do all they could to save Plyushch’s life, as since July 1973 he had been kept in the hospital referred to, in allegedly horrifying conditions …

“In 1973, he drew up a letter to the President of South Vietnam, in which he libellously stated that fresh political repressive measures were allegedly taking place in the USSR (this refers to Tverdokhlebov’s petition asking for the release of political prisoners in South Vietnam, Chronicle) …

“Having decided to defend, without any grounds, persons sentenced for especially dangerous crimes against the State, in March 1974 he signed a so-called ‘Declaration of 44’, together with others who shared his views. While attempting to prove the groundlessness of the charges of anti-Soviet agitation and propaganda on which Superfin was sentenced, the authors of the letter call the Soviet criminal investigation authorities immoral and unlawful, asserting that in Soviet detention centres, ‘people are ground down, deprived of all links with the outside world, defenceless in the face of any deception or blackmail’.

“By establishing illegal links with prisoners, he collected deliberately false information concerning the trials of Gluzman, Pronyuk, Opanasenko, Svetlichny and others, together with details of their living conditions in places of detention, on the basis of which, in 1974, he compiled the collection ‘On the Conditions in which Prisoners are Confined’, which he reproduced on his typewriter …”

The indictment states how each of these documents was exploited and by which hostile forces: Radio Liberty, the Possev publishing house, the newspaper Novoe Russkoe Slovo, imperialist propaganda, and A Chronicle of Current Events.

In 1973, on his Continental typewriter, he reproduced Solzhenitsyn’s lampoon, “A Letter to the Soviet Leaders”, which includes demands for the abolition of the existing system in the USSR and its replacement by a multi-party parliamentary system …

In 1974, he used the same typewriter to reproduce and distribute among his friends Sakharov’s review of the above-mentioned lampoon by Solzhenitsyn, which contained libellous statements, such as the following: “Solzhenitsyn’s unrivalled role in the spiritual life of our country is due to his uncompromisingly accurate and deeply revealing portrayal of the people’s sufferings and of the regime’s crimes, which are unrivalled in their mass cruelty and secrecy”

In the same year he reproduced and distributed among his acquaintances Sakharov’s article “The World Half a Century from Now”, which gives a libellous account of the actions of the Party and the government…

There was now a discussion of the order in which the witnesses were to be called. The prosecutor suggested that witnesses who were relatives of the accused should be called last.

Tverdokhlebov demanded that his relatives should be questioned first. In that case, the defendant explained, they could be present in court from the very beginning, which would, of course, be of interest to them.

Defence counsel supported this request. He explained that the relatives had been summoned to give evidence on the character of the defendant and that they should therefore be heard first.

The court granted this request only with regard to the defendant’s mother and decided to question her first.


Judge Bogdanov: Do you understand the charges against you?

Tverdokhlebov: Yes … I am charged with what I would call exchanging information. I regard it as any man’s inalienable right to write and to distribute what he has written,

I do not dispute the factual circumstances the indictment deals with. However, the spreading of information, which I am being tried for, is related to certain other general principles existing in the world, in particular, to the principle of legal proceedings being open to the public .,.

Judge Bogdanov: You’re speaking in a very unconnected manner. The secretary is finding it difficult to record what you say. There’s no need to theorize, you’re an educated man and should be able to express your thoughts concretely.

Tverdokhlebov: The exchange of information is valuable in itself and there is no doubt of its beneficial results. During the pre-trial investigation attempts were made to concentrate on the anti-Soviet character of various publications and a debate arose. I am prepared to recall it…

Judge Bogdanov: Don’t bother, there’s no need.

Tverdokhlebov: During the investigation I was asked, “Did you take any measures to make sure that your material would not be used by hostile publishing-houses and newspapers?” I explained that in our circumstances an individual can have no control over publication in the West … I, too, could not avoid unwanted publication without putting myself under the control of the government … However, there is a //Convention on the control of publications and on the international law regarding the exchange of ideas and opinions. It is a great pity that the USSR is not a party to that convention; if it were, of course, it would have no need to force its citizens to disown their publications …

Judge Bogdanov: I must ask you not to go beyond the limits of the charges.

Tverdokhlebov: Let me go on to another point…

Read More …

Judge Bogdanov: I call your attention to the following: first, you must speak about particular episodes, then about whether they have been proved or not, and then your main documents.

Tverdokhlebov: From the documents of the case, I see that the persecution of citizens for exchanging information on the subject of human rights has become normal in our country, however hard the authorities try to prove the opposite. This is a bad habit and I tried not to become the object of such persecution… I understand that the infringement of established customs leads to punishment… It was inevitable that I would be punished. (Tverdokhlebov went on to give evidence concerning episodes.)

I admit the fact that I signed the letter about Solzhenitsyn. I don’t consider it important that the text was used by Radio Liberty.

The indictment is correct about the compilation of the documents written by Medvedev, Volpin and Chalidze: I sent them to the Commission on Legislative Proposals, to the Ministry of Internal Affairs, to the Ministry of Health, and abroad.

Next point, “Together with others, he drew up and sent an appeal to the Congress of Psychiatrists …” This refers to the same collection of documents as the last point. I can state that the practice of putting people in psychiatric hospitals for political motives exists in the USSR … It is my opinion that such things happen. However, the text of the appeal does not itself contain documentation. The collected documents include a warning about the danger of misusing science, particularly medicine.

Judge Bogdanov: Does this refer to doctors?

Tverdokhlebov: Yes, that’s right. Next, there is the letter of Zhitnikova [wife of Leonid Plyushch], I confirm that I sent this letter with comments of my own. However, I consider it meaningless to discuss whether it was or was not libellous …

On all the other points of the indictment, Tverdokhlebov admitted the facts that he prepared, drew up, reproduced or distributed material, but rejected the charge of libel.

Concerning the ‘Declaration of 44’, Tverdokhlebov said: “I asked for Superfin and investigator Syshchikov to be called as witnesses; this has been refused, which is bad. Syshchikov could tell us a great deal.”

On being asked by the prosecutor what means he used to send material abroad, Tverdokhlebov refused to answer, stating only that he had put the letter to Dr. B. Dixon ‘into a post-box in the Sokol district’, (This letter was intercepted in the Moscow international post-office and added to the case-evidence, Chronicle).

During the examination of the episode when Sakharov’s work “The World Half a Century from Now” was distributed, defence counsel Yudovich asked the court to take into evidence a telegram he had just received from A. Sakharov. The prosecutor objected. The court refused defence counsel’s request.

(The telegram was addressed to the Moscow City Court, with copies sent to the Procurator’s office and defence counsel Yudovich. The text of the telegram was as follows:

4 April 1976

As far as I understand from an interrogation of Turchin, Tverdokhlebov is being charged with distributing my article ‘The World Half a Century from Now’. This charge is based on a misunderstanding. My article is basically futurological, scientific and technical. The article calls for humane values and increased co-operation between nations. I and I alone take full responsibility for its contents and distribution. I ask the court to add this declaration to the case-evidence.

Andrei Sakharov

Academician, three times Hero of Socialist Labour.


Sara Yulievna TVERDOKHLEBOVA, mother of the defendant, a pensioner.

Judge Bogdanov: What can you tell us about your son?

S.Yu. Tverdokhlebova: May God give every mother such a son.. When investigator V.S. Gusev summoned me, he said during our talk, he assured me that on no account would I have to appear as a witness at the trial… I shall not give any evidence at the trial of my own son …

Judge Bogdanov: Well, you said you had a good son. So tell us about him.

Prosecutor Prazdnikova: How he grew up, whether he was healthy …

S.Yu. Tverdokhlebova: The investigator already asked me about that; he found out that I never took my son to any neurologist…

Prosecutor Prazdnikova: Why are you talking about neurologists? I never mentioned any neurologist…

S.Yu. Tverdokhlebova: I’m talking about it because the investigator was interested in that. I repeat, I am not going to give any evidence.


Later, the following prisoners were questioned, one after the other: Mikolas Dudenns, Jonas Paulauskas, Meliton Dzhamburia (their names are included in the “List of prisoners known to the Chronicle in the Perm camps” in CCE 33.6, with minor mis-spellings, as Dzhaburin, Dudinas; on the latter, see also the “Polemic with Sukharev” in CCE 39).

In answer to the similar questions put to them, they answered that they had been sentenced for treason ([Lithuanian] Paulauskas had “stayed in the forest to avoid fighting”; Dzhamburia “was taken prisoner and later worked for the Germans”). Conditions in the camp were normal, “liveable”, they said, the administration did not punish the prisoners without reason.

In response to questions from defence counsel, they said they did not know Gluzman, Opanasenko, Svetlichny or Pronyuk (Paulauskas and Dzhamburia had seen Gluzman, but only fleetingly).


L.A. Ladyzhensky, a prisoner from Perm camp 36, serving a 3-year-sentence under Article 65 of the Latvian SSR Criminal Code (equivalent of Article 70) see CCE 34.3

He was now seeing Tverdokhlebov for the first time, but he had heard of him. The witness described how he had become convinced, on getting into prison, that life in the camps was much easier than he had thought from reading samizdat. In Ladyzhensky’s opinion, 90 per cent of the reports from camps in samizdat literature were untrue.

Concerning the attitude of the administration to the prisoners, he said that he had “not seen any deliberate cruelty, they mistreated people not consciously, but rather unconsciously, because of their low cultural level”… He did not know Gluzman, Opanasenko, Pronyuk or Svetlichny.


I.L. NEVERA, about 60 years old, a policeman, a neighbour of Tverdokhlebov’s.

Judge Bogdanov: Tell us about your relationship with the defendant.

I.L. Nevara: It was normal. We had no disagreements.

Prosecutor Prazdnikova: Did many people visit Tverdokhlebov?

I.L. Nevara: People came every day, in ones and twos and in groups … They didn’t disturb me …

Later the witness stated that Tverdokhlebov often talked on the telephone, sometimes reading something out from a prepared text for hours, making calls abroad, often to London. The witness confirmed that the voice recorded on a tape (evidently confiscated during a search — Chronicle), which he had listened to at the pre-trial investigation, belonged to Tverdokhlebov.


ALEXEI POPOV, physicist, a fellow-student of Tverdokhlebov.

The witness stated that, at the Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology, Tverdokhlebov had been regarded as a capable student. He had been quite friendly with the defendant. After leaving the institute they had met once or twice; they had talked about physics.


V. BELOKHOV, technician at a savings bank in Saratov, sentenced under Article 70, released in September 1974 on a pardon (V. Belokhov is an exposed informer, see CCE 32).

He did not know the defendant but had heard about his social activities.

Prosecutor Prazdnikova: From whom did you hear about this?

Belokhov: It was a matter of common knowledge… My wife told me that Tverdokhlebov had helped her when I was in a camp …

Prosecutor Prazdnikova:What were the circumstances in which you were detained?

Belokhov: I was going to see Tverdokhlebov when the police stopped me on the street.

Prosecutor Prazdnikova:You had in your possession a letter from the prisoner Bolonkin, addressed to Tverdokhlebov. It was dated 13 September, while you were released on 16 September. How do you explain the fact that the letter was found in your possession?

Belokhov: By a combination of circumstances.

Tverdokhlebov: Are you getting on well at work?

Belokhov: At first everything was all right at work, but now there has been some unpleasantness.

Tverdokhlebov: How long were you imprisoned?

Belokhov: Two years, under Article 70.

(Noise in court. Shouts of “Not enough!”)


F.K. PRUSS, former Head of Dnepropetrovsk Special Psychiatric Hospital, a doctor with 32 years of experience; had been on a pension for two months.

The witness described his hospital, and how its conditions were designed to assist the rapid recovery of the patients; he described how well Plyushch had been looked after, so that he had not been in need of anything. The patients were allowed to order any literature, even foreign journals, 40-65 per cent of the patients were usually engaged in work-therapy — they wove nets, sewed trousers, participated in repair work … There was no apathy …

Prosecutor Prazdnikova: Is there any truth at all in Tverdokhlebov’s letter to you about Plyushch?

Pruss: None. It’s all untrue. (Tverdokhlebov had sent Pruss a letter about Plyushch’s condition; Pruss sent this letter to the Ministry of Internal Affairs; see CCE 30),

Tverdokhlebov: Is your rank that of lieutenant-colonel in the internal security forces?

Pruss: No, I’m a doctor.

Tverdokhlebov: Strange, isn’t it, that the case materials contain a document showing that you ..,

Judge Bogdanov: Defendant, you must ask questions which are relevant to the case. Tverdokhlebov: All right… Is the hospital guarded?

Pruss: The hospital?

Tverdokhlebov: The hospital.

Pruss: The hospital is guarded.

Tverdokhlebov: By troops attached to the Ministry of Internal Affairs?

Pruss: Well… yes. By the way, that’s in the interests of the patients. Tverdokhlebov: Is it to stop unauthorized visitors entering?

Pruss: You have to understand… they’re like children… there is a reason for it…

Tverdokhlebov: When you sent my letter to the Ministry of Internal Affairs, you added your own comments to it… You wrote ‘Tverdokhlebov has never been in our hospital .,.*

Pruss: That’s right, you have not been in our hospital.

Judge: To avoid disputes, the court will have the letter read out: *1 send you this letter from A. Tverdokhlebov and request you to take appropriate measures. I affirm that Tverdokhlebov has never been in the hospital and therefore has no right to discuss it in this way.*

Tverdokhlebov: In other words, I was not a patient of yours?

Pruss: I meant that you could have been there as a relative or a patient, as a friend… you could have visited the hospital, seen something or other and expressed your opinion. Nobody is forbidden to do that. But you were not in it…

Tverdokhlebov: I was right in thinking, then, that you did not mean.., ?

Pruss: That you were ill? No.

(Disturbance in the courtroom.)

Pruss: There are other ways … of determining that…


DVORNIK, a nurse at Dnepropetrovsk Special Psychiatric Hospital since 1968.

Plyushch, like all the other patients, had been kept in comfortable, sanitary conditions. The hospital had a cinema, the patients played chess and draughts … The patients could wear their own clothes. The wards were clean and well-lit. Prosecutor: You treat all the patients alike, don’t you? Sick people are sick people, aren’t they?

Dvornik: Yes.

Tverdokhlebov: Tell me, is 0,45 milligrams of triftazine a large dose?

Dvornik: It’s the normal therapeutic dose. But doses of 0.60 and more can be given. It depends on what the doctor prescribes,


NIKOLAI VASILIEVICH ILLARIONOV, academic secretary of the All-Union Institute of Scientific and Technical Information, attached to the USSR Academy of Sciences.

The witness stated that Tverdokhlebov had come to the Institute after graduating from the Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology and taking a higher degree there, and had worked there for four years. He was not completely dedicated to his work, he had other interests. He did not take part in social life. When the witness Illarionov was asked if he had known that Tverdokhlebov was a member of the Committee of Human Rights, he replied that he had known and had often talked to Tverdokhlebov about it, trying to influence him in some way.


TAMARA NIKOLAYEVNA SERGEYEVA, junior research officer at the same Institute.

The witness stated that Tverdokhlebov had got on well with people at work. She could not pass judgement on the defendant’s work, as she had worked in a different department. She had got to know that Tverdokhlebov was a member of the Committee of Human Rights from discussions at the institute’s ’triangle’ (three-person committee), of which she was a member. Tverdokhlebov had given her some of the Committee’s documents to read.


MARGARITA BOLONKINA, wife of A. Bolonkin, who is serving a sentence under Article 70 (CCE 30).

She knows Tverdokhlebov. ‘He’s a good, kind man.’ She had come to see Tverdokhlebov after her husband had been arrested.

Prosecutor Prazdnikova: Did Tverdokhlebov give you money?

M. Bolonkina: I don’t remember… I think he did, when they took my husband away … I think he gave me a present… for the 8 March holiday …

Prosecutor Prazdnikova: At the pre-trial hearing you said that Tverdokhlebov had given you a warning. He advised you to be more careful?

M. Bolonkina: He only wanted to explain things to me, so that I wouldn’t be afraid. You don’t know how terrible it was, when they searched me before I visited my husband and undressed me so that I was naked…

Tverdokhlebov: Rita, how’s your son? Did you manage to leave the child somewhere?

M. Bolonkina: Thank you, Andrei Nikolayevich, everything’s all right. He’s here, I’ll be taking him away with me at once.

(Bolonkina had been in the witnesses’ room with her nine-year-old son from 9.00 am to 6.50 pm. The child had been allowed to walk outside by himself when he wished. The witnesses had been able to go and have lunch from 1.45 to 2.45 pm.)


YULIA BORISOVNA ZAKS. Employed at the Plastics Research Institute as a senior researcher, sister of the defendant.

Judge Bogdanov: What are your relations with Andrei Tverdokhlebov?

J.B. Zaks: I’m on very good terms with him. He’s my favourite brother…

Prosecutor Prazdnikova: I should like to ask you the following question …

J.B. Zaks: Excuse me, first I should like to state what I know about my brother’s case.

Prosecutor Prazdnikova: You are asked merely to answer concrete questions put to you.

J.B. Zaks: I know that by law I have the right to begin by stating freely what I know… Especially as no one has as yet explained to me what my brother is accused of.

Judge Bogdanov: The prosecutor has asked you a concrete question … so answer it.

Prosecutor Prazdnikova: Were you at the send-off for Litvin… on 14 April 1974?

J.B. Zaks: No, I was not at a send-off for Litvin, I was at the send-off for Litvinov.

Prosecutor Prazdnikova: Don’t quibble about word-endings. Did you see the text of the appeal on behalf of Superfin being drawn up at the send-off for Litvinov?

J.B. Zaks: I was present at the send-off for Litvinov, not when the text of the appeal was drawn up.

Prosecutor Prazdnikova: I have no more questions … Tell us about your brother as a man.

J.B. Zaks: I have rarely met anyone in my life as honest and decent as my brother … He loved his work, but he was also interested in questions of legality. In particular, he was concerned about the fate of Plyushch, who has now been acknowledged in the West to be mentally healthy,

Prosecutor Prazdnikova: Who asked you about Plyushch? Nobody asked you about him. You just wanted to bring that up!


ALEXANDER LVOVICH SHUSTER, senior research officer at the All-Union Scientific Research and Development Oil Institute, co-author with Tverdokhlebov of several scientific works, husband of his sister.

A.L. Shuster: In accordance with Article 283 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, I wish to state all that I know of this case. I have known Tverdokhlebov for about 20 years. Positive assessments of our combined scientific work, signed by Academician A, D. Sakharov and M. L. Levin, Doctor of Physical and Mathematical Sciences, are included in my declaration to the Procurator’s Office, in which I asked to be allowed to visit Tverdokhlebov, in order to discuss our future work …

Judge Bogdanov: Try to keep to matters about which you were asked at the pre-trial investigation.

A.L. Shuster: I am stating all that I know about the case. In his scientific work Tverdokhlebov always tried to achieve accurate results and carefully checked them. I cannot imagine the charge that he concocted deliberately false stories to be true.

Judge Bogdanov: Don’t try and instruct us!

The Prosecutor asked Shuster where, when, and in what circumstances he had signed the ‘Declaration of 44’.

A.L. Shuster: The way in which the signatures were collected did not interest me. I can’t tell you if there were other signatures on it, and if so whose, as I don’t remember.

Tverdokhlebov: Shura, I wrote something here in my prison cell… Did they give it to you?

Judge Bogdanov: What sort of question is that? This has nothing to do with the case!

Tverdokhlebov: The subject is my scientific activities, which give some idea of my character.

A.L. Shuster: No, they didn’t give me anything from you.


VALENTIN FYODOROVICH TURCHIN, Doctor of Physical and Mathematical Sciences, Chairman of the Soviet group of Amnesty International.

Prosecutor Prazdnikova: On 18 April 1975 a search was carried out at your flat. Do you agree with that statement?

V.F. Turchin: Before answering any questions, I should like to tell you, in accordance with //Article 283 of the RSFSR Penal Code, about the facts of the case known to me …

Judge Bogdanov: You have been summoned to the court to answer some concrete questions!

Prosecutor Prazdnikova: During the search a copy of Sakharov’s article “The World Half a Century from Now” was confiscated. Do you confirm that?

V.F. Turchin: I must repeat that I consider myself bound, as a witness in the case of Tverdokhlebov, to tell you all I know of the case, in accordance with Article 283 of the Penal Code. May I begin?

Judge Bogdanov: You refuse to give evidence?

V.F. Turchin: No. I should merely like to begin by telling the court some important facts.

Judge Bogdanov: The court decides which facts are important and which are not, Prosecutor: I consider the witness’s behaviour to be inadmissible!

The dispute went on for quite a long time. Then the judge allowed Turchin to say what he knew about the case.

V.F. Turchin:Firstly, Tverdokhlebov is the Secretary of the Soviet group of Amnesty International…

Judge Bogdanov: Well, now you’ve put your cards on the table! I tell you, that organization has nothing to do with the case … We do not have the right to broaden the scope of the judicial investigation in that way. What other facts do you have to tell?

V.F. Turchin: I know Tverdokhlebov to be a man of great honesty and high principles; he has never spread deliberately false stories and would never do so. Tverdokhlebov has studied Soviet law carefully and has often pointed out breaches of Soviet laws to various authorities. To define the facts reported by him as deliberately false statements, i.e., to allege that he knew these facts were false, would mean that you, citizen judges, are setting yourselves against truth and conscience.

Prosecutor Prazdnikova: This is seditious! I consider that the witness Turchin is insulting the court! I suggest that the examination of this witness should be ended immediately, as he is behaving in an inadmissible manner. I refuse to put any questions to him at all.

V.F. Turchin: That’s a pity, as I am willing to answer concrete questions… If the prosecutor has no questions to ask me, perhaps the defence counsel has? (Laughter in court.)

Turchin said, in answer to questions from the judge, that he had received the article “The World Half a Century from Now”, confiscated during a search, from the author, Academician Sakharov.

The court declared an intermission until the morning of the next day, 15 April.


15 April. As before, no one was allowed into the courtroom. Just before 9 am, when there were only five people in the courtyard (Vera Lashkova, Malva Landa, Yury Orlov, Alexander Podrabinek and Sergei Khodorovich), the police began to push them around and demanded that they should leave the court building altogether. No one hurried to obey.

Someone got the Constitution and read the article on the public nature of trials. A policeman wearing an athlete’s Master of Sport badge answered: “That’s for you, not for us,” and demanded that they leave the courtyard. Sergei Khodorovich, who was standing about ten metres away from the entrance, was told that he was preventing people entering the courtroom, “I’m not in anyone’s way,” he said. The police seized Khodorovich, pushed him into a car and took him to Police Station No. 103. The other four also went there. They handed in written evidence on the circumstances of Khodorovich’s detention (CCE 40.// “News in Brief”).

Later, there were about 20-30 people outside the court building, among them foreign journalists and an American diplomat. One of the agents was photographing the crowd. A foreign journalist photographed the photographer.


The whole Soviet people is ceaselessly working, in a patriotic fervour, to achieve an aim of great importance, struggling to achieve a pure life for Soviet people. The Soviet people live by a principle — that man is to his brother man a friend and comrade …

Later Prazdnikova defined the role of socialist legality in the task of building Communism and also the role of the USSR in the struggle for human rights by exposing the class character of concepts like ‘democracy’, ‘justice’ and ‘freedom’, and compared Article 190-1 of the RSFSR Criminal Code with corresponding laws in the USA, England, West Germany, Italy and Sweden, and remarked that they all provided for the defence of the state against slander (which was punished almost everywhere by sentences of 3 years).

We do not deny that there are a few people in our country who express opinions contrary to communist ideology. But we do not try people for their views, but for actions contrary to the laws.

What can we say about Tverdokhlebov’s character? These were his circle of acquaintances — his spiritual idol Chalidze, on whom his country has closed its doors because of his anti-Soviet activities; Volpin — a mentally-ill man; then there are the relatives and friends of people sentenced for especially dangerous crimes against the state and other offences.

The voluminous anti-Soviet literature which gave Tverdokhlebov the opportunity of compiling his libellous fabrications, the incitement and provocation provided by diversionist radio programmes such as those of Radio Liberty, Voice of America, the BBC and others, the politically harmful, damaging literature which casts no light on the real situation in this Soviet land, particularly materials defaming our system in every way — such was the soil, the sphere, the micro-climate that influenced Tverdokhlebov and formed his opinions.

Tverdokhlebov has stated that he acted legally. It has been proved in court that Tverdokhlebov’s correspondents made use of cryptography (Bolonkin’s letter, confiscated by the KGB from Belokhov, was written in urine). Tverdokhlebov should have known that samizdat was the most unreliable source of information and the most libellous, and he nevertheless made use of it. Why did he do so?

If you act legally, there is no need to hide or conceal anything 1 …

The judicial investigation has shown by examples that Tverdokhlebov systematically committed actions covered by Article 190-1 of the RSFSR Criminal Code. The prosecution considers that the defendant deserves the maximum penalty prescribed by this Article. However, it is to be hoped that the time Tverdokhlebov has spent in detention has not been in vain. It should also be taken into account that this is Tverdokhlebov’s first conviction. He has been given good character references both from his place of work and his place of residence, and official confirmation of this exists in the case evidence.

Therefore, I consider it possible to pass a milder sentence than that allowed for by law, by applying Article 43 of the Criminal Code. Taking all the aforesaid into account, I ask the court to find Tverdokhlebov guilty under Article 190-1 of the RSFSR Criminal Code and to sentence him to a term of 5 years’ exile.


In my speech I shall keep to purely legal points, especially as other aspects have been covered in the prosecutor’s speech. I shall state my opinion on whether the crime has been proved, whether the defendant’s motives have been proved, and whether the definitions of the charges, which you heard from the prosecutor, have been proved.

Thus, in the first instance Tverdokhlebov is charged only with signing letters, while in other instances he is also charged with compiling, reproducing and distributing material. I draw the court’s attention to the fact that Article 190-1 of the Criminal Code does not mention signing anything in the text. Signing something is not a crime. Such a broadened interpretation of the said Article is not, in my opinion, based on law.

To continue: Tverdokhlebov has categorically refused to agree that the information contained in the documents in evidence is false. I quote the comment of the authors of the Commentary on the RSFSR Criminal Code, published by Jurizdat [Juridical Publishing-house] in 1971: “The defendant definitely must admit that the information spread by him (expressed in publications) is false” (commentary on Article 190-1). The investigation has not proved that Tverdokhlebov had information, at the time when he distributed material, that this material was libellous.

I ask the court to note that the reporting of facts to state authorities with the aim of informing these authorities expeditiously of breaches of the law is not a crime. This opinion is shared by Mikhailov and Nazarov, the authors of the book Ideological Diversions (published in 1969): “…The reporting of… fabrications directly to representatives of Soviet state authorities … is not a crime and cannot be defined as such under Article 190-1” (p. 55).

The charges of illegal links with persons serving terms of imprisonment has not been proved by the investigation and is mere assertion. The persons concerned have not been questioned by the investigators.

In analysing the position of the defendant and the different points of the charges against him, defence counsel repeated more than once that intent to commit a crime had not been proved.

A few words concerning Tverdokhlebov’s character. In the character reference provided by the institute in which Tverdokhlebov had worked, it was stated that “he was an industrious and well-qualified colleague, who took an active part in the social life of the department”.

Tverdokhlebov continued his scientific work after being put in an isolation cell during the investigation. Tverdokhlebov has an under-age daughter to support, I ask the court to take into account the arguments put forward by the defence before passing sentence.


All that I am accused of is, in my opinion, an activity inseparable from my concept of man, of his natural activity in society. I have been warned more than once, by the KGB and at the Procurator’s Office, that such activity is impermissible in Soviet society. All the arguments for this… were of a political nature… In my own way I am grateful for these warnings, because they were in essence threats, and they forced me to make a final choice.

I should like to quote a conversation between a certain member of Parliament and a Soviet dissident… (the judge interrupts him). This parliamentarian asked me: “Do dissidents favour detente?” I replied that they did. He was pleased and said that in that case it would be a good thing if everyone were to become a dissident. I said that communists were also for detente, and that perhaps he considered it would not be a bad thing if everyone were to become a communist. But he did not approve of the question being put to him in this way…

Judge Bogdanov: I am warning you for the third time.

Tverdokhlebov discussed the limitations on human rights which are permitted by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. He quoted Brezhnev’s words: “We are for the exchange of information, but within the laws and customs of each country”.

Tverdokhlebov: Customs everywhere are different. And while the custom exists in communist countries of putting dissidents behind bars …

Judge Bogdanov: Tverdokhlebov! Stop making speeches! Keep to the point.

Tverdokhlebov: Are you stopping me from speaking?

Judge Bogdanov: You should change your final statement so that it concerns only the circumstances of this case.

Tverdokhlebov: I shall speak as I intended to …

The prosecutor makes a movement of the hand. The judges retire to decide on the sentence.


The court considered that Tverdokhlebov’s guilt had been proved on all counts in the indictment. It was further stated that:

Tverdokhlebov had no previous convictions. He had admitted the factual circumstances of the charges against him. Taking this into account, the court found it possible to apply Article 43 of the RSFSR Criminal Code to Tverdokhlebov and to sentence him to a form of punishment which would not involve imprisonment. On this basis, the Moscow City Court for criminal cases sentenced Andrei Nikolayevich Tverdokhlebov to 5 years’ exile.

Tverdokhlebov would be taken under guard to his place of exile. The whole time spent in detention and under guard would count as part of the term of exile, one day under guard being reckoned as three days of exile.


In defence of Andrei Tverdokhlebov

The sentence of 5 years’ exile passed on A, Tverdokhlebov cannot be called severe by Soviet standards. However, its relative mildness does not make the sentence either lawful or just.

A. Tverdokhlebov has been sentenced to exile for his activity in defence of others, for his courage and goodness. None of his activities had anything criminal in them.

As we are convinced of this, we demand a re-investigation of the case and annulment of the unjust sentence.

This declaration was signed by 144 people.


TVERDOKHLEBOV appealed against the verdict to the RSFSR Supreme Court. An appeal hearing was scheduled for 6 May but did not take place. The case was heard on 12 May and the sentence was left unchanged. Here, too, no one except relatives was allowed to attend the hearing.