The Expulsion of P.G. Grigorenko, 13 February 1978 (48.1)

<<No 48 : 14 March 1978>>

Pyotr Grigorevich GRIGORENKO has been deceitfully expelled from the USSR.

On 10 March 1978, Soviet subscribers received issue No 8 of the Gazette of the USSR Supreme Soviet (22 February 1978). There they learned that on 13 February the Presidium of the USSR Supreme Soviet had stripped Pyotr Grigorevich Grigorenko of his Soviet citizenship “for activities discrediting the title of citizen of the USSR”.[note 1]

On the same day, 10 March, when the Grigorenkos asked at the Soviet embassy [in the USA] if it was true that P.G. Grigorenko had been stripped of his citizenship, they were told: “The rumour has not been confirmed.”

Pyotr Grigorenko, 1907-1987

In early November 1977, a KGB official informed P.G. Grigorenko that permission had been granted for him to visit his son, and assured him that he could “book a return ticket this very instant”. In a statement for the press made on 11 November P.G. Grigorenko expressed his certainty that he and his family would safely return home (CCE 47.8). On 30 November 1977, the Grigorenko family flew to the United States.

On 11 March, P.G. Grigorenko held a press conference in New York. This was the saddest day of his life, said Pyotr Grigoryevich. The Soviet government had illegally and unjustly deprived him of his homeland. With great emotion he said that now he would not see his sons and grandchildren who remained in Russia, and his many friends, and he would not be able to visit his native Ukraine or blessed Crimea. “They have deprived me of the right to die in my Motherland.”

Alluding to the cruel persecution which has hit members of the Helsinki groups, P.G. Grigorenko said, “They have decided to deal with me differently.” He recalled that the authorities had deceived him when giving him a visa and emphasised that the decree on deprivation of citizenship had been announced in cowardly fashion “the day after the Belgrade Conference closed” [note 2].

Grigorenko called upon his friends in the Soviet Union and upon the governments of countries participating in the European Conference [in Belgrade] to support his protest. He read out his statement to the Presidium of the USSR Supreme Soviet in which he demands to be given the opportunity to return to his native land in order to prove his complete innocence before an open court.

On 14 March Andrei Sakharov made the following statement:

“To statesmen and public figures of all countries, veterans of the Second World War and defenders of human rights throughout the world.

“The Presidium of the USSR Supreme Soviet has deprived one of our country’s worthiest citizens, Pyotr Grigorevich Grigorenko, of his citizenship on a charge of activities detrimental to the prestige of the USSR and incompatible with the title of citizen of the USSR. This charge is of an unsubstantiated nature; it is not even specified where these activities took place — in the USSR or abroad — or what they consisted of. The charge is not based on a judicial investigation. It is in fact absolutely false!

“Pyotr Grigorevich has rendered great services to the State, the people of our country and to mankind by his selfless struggle against fascism at the front in wartime and his no less heroic fight against arbitrariness, lawlessness and the violation of human rights in time of peace, by his defence of the victims of injustice: the Tatars of the Crimea, political prisoners, the inmates of psychiatric hospitals, religious believers. Immediately after his first public statements Grigorenko was stripped of his military rank of Major-General and his academic degree; at the end of the 1960s he became a victim of severe oppression culminating in unlawful incarceration for four years in a psychiatric prison. Although gravely ill when he emerged, Grigorenko did not cease his noble activity in defence of human rights. Grigorenko is a transparently honest, broad-minded, intelligent and courageous man who commands the profoundest respect of his friends and of all with whom he comes into contact.

“Grigorenko is attached to his country by all the threads of his life. Now he has been stripped of citizenship of the USSR, stripped in fraudulent, treacherous fashion. I support Pyotr Grigoryevich’s demand to be given an opportunity to return to the USSR and to prove before an open court the injustice of the accusations made against him. I call upon veterans of the Second World War, defenders of human rights, statesmen and public figures throughout the world to support Pyotr Grigorenko’s right to return to his homeland, which is the indubitable right of every person!”



[1] Others were subjected to the same treatment in 1978, for instance cellist Mstislav Rostropovich and his wife soprano Galina Vishnevskaya. The Soviet authorities had second thoughts in the late 1960s about expelling two noted rights activists, Ilya Gabai and Anatoly Marchenko (draft edicts in Bukovsky Archive).

[2] The Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe (CSCE), held in Belgrade between 4 October 1977 and 8 March 1978, was attended by all the signatories of the August 1975 Helsinki Accords.