The Russian Relief Fund for Political Prisoners (CCE 44.3) here gives the names of political prisoners and exiles known to it in mid-August 1977
[N.B. These 275 names exclude those in psychiatric hospitals, and almost all religious prisoners. For more details on the men and women listed here see previous issues of the Chronicle, especially CCE 33.]
Completeness and Accuracy
This list is far from being complete. Many political prisoners are wholly unknown to the Fund, others are known to us only as surnames, and we are ignorant of many important details about others. In particular, there are many gaps in our information about those sentenced under Article 190-1 of the RSFSR Criminal Code who are, therefore, held in ordinary camps.
The Fund appeals to anybody wanting to help to fill in the blanks on the published list, and to make additions and corrections to it. This information can be given to the person who passed on this list to you or the Fund’s distributors.
Many corrections are needed, particularly in the “place of detention” section — the transfer of zeks from one camp to another goes on continuously and it is essential to keep track of them.
Help and Support
The Fund gives aid to many political prisoners and their families: this is its main task. Without doubt this help will continue to be given. However, the Fund’s opportunities are limited. The obstacles which the authorities have put in the way [see CCE 44.3] of anyone receiving aid from the Fund Director since the beginning of this year limit those opportunities even more. Any person who wishes to give individual aid to a political prisoner will give the Fund considerable support, which it needs very much. Such support would be not merely material but would have an even more important moral significance.
The Fund hopes that the sympathy for prisoners traditionally felt by the people of our country, especially in relation to political prisoners, is still alive today.
If you wish to respond to our appeal, may we draw your attention first to those prisoners whose names are relatively little known. As a rule, help given to such prisoners is especially useful. Many of them are elderly people and have no family to help them.
If you decide to help a prisoner, do not rush to send him a parcel or package. Their contents and numbers are subject to strict limits. First make preliminary enquiries. If a prisoner is alone in the world, he can write you a letter in reply, out of the cruelly small number allowed to him; if not, he can reply to you through his relatives. In many cases you can receive helpful advice from the new distributors of the Fund.
A money order can be sent to a prisoner at any time, even if it is only 10 roubles.
If you want to help a prisoner’s family, tactfully enquire beforehand if they wish to receive such aid: years of terror have led to many people reacting warily to aid from strangers and refusing to take it even when they need it. Be ready for this. If you receive a refusal, your intuition will help you to see if it is prompted merely by pride (in which case there is no need to pay any attention) or by an active dislike of receiving such aid (and this must not be ignored).
Always remember that, apart from material aid, moral support is enormously important. A letter (of any length, even a couple of lines), a telegram or a card on a birthday or feast-day are invaluable in a camp, even (or especially) if they come from a stranger. Never be embarrassed at having “nothing to say”. The fact of receiving a letter is incomparably more important.
The Fund appeals to all organs of the press — whether those of samizdat or those abroad — to publicise this appeal and prisoner list widely.
We thank in advance those who respond in any way to this appeal.
Kronid Lyubarsky, Tatyana Khodorovich
15 August 1977.
On 4 March 1977, the day after the arrest of Alexander Ginzburg, three rights activists — Malva LANDA, Kronid LYUBARSKY and Tatyana KHODOROVICH — announced that they would henceforth represent the Relief Fund for Political Prisoners and their Families (CCE 44.3).
Compare this to the earlier attempt in 1970 by Chronicle editors to compile a similar list before the Relief Fund came into being. In a 1 February 1987 report to the Politburo, KGB chairman Chebrikov spoke of 288 political prisoners, one third of whom were being held in psychiatric hospitals.