Repressive measures against the Helsinki Groups: Moscow, 1977-1978 (48.2)

<<No 48 : 14 March 1978>>

In November 1977 nine months had passed since the day that Alexander Ginzburg and Yury Orlov were arrested; December 1977 marked nine months since the arrest of Anatoly Shcharansky (CCE 44.2). For all three men, therefore, the maximum period of detention in custody during the investigation of a case had ended (see Article 97 of the RSFSR Code of Criminal Procedure).

The Extension of Pre-trial Detention.

Their relatives were told orally that this period had been extended by half a year by special decrees of the Presidium of the USSR Supreme Soviet. On 25 December 1977, the Moscow Helsinki Group published a statement on this matter (document No. 27 [see CCE 48.23]), addressed to the Belgrade Conference [CSCE, October 1977 to March 1978] and to the Presidium of the USSR Supreme Soviet.

The issuing of such secret “decrees aimed at a particular individuals” to extend that person’s period of detention “has become common practice in Soviet legal procedure”, the Group says: it regards these decrees as illegal, anti-constitutional and inhumane. The statement cites the Fundamentals of Criminal Legal Procedure of the USSR (Article 34) and those articles of legislation in the Union Republics corresponding to Article 97 of the RSFSR Code of Criminal Procedure. Reference is also made to Article 18 of the Statute on Pre-Trial Detention in Custody: this directly stipulates expiry of the period of detention in custody “as a basis for the immediate release of the arrested person”. The Group notes:

No other grounds for extending the term of detention in custody for a prisoner under investigation are prescribed either by the Constitution of the USSR or by any other Union law now in force.

Not once has any of the three men seen his relatives or received permission to write even a single letter, continues the statement, although the law allows both meetings and correspondence during pre-trial imprisonment. The MHG statement concludes:

In a law-governed State, all the more so in one which calls itself socialist, it is impermissible (even with regard to rapists, murderers and terrorists) to violate one’s own laws so flagrantly and to trample on the rights of a citizen who has not yet been judged a criminal by a court.

In a letter accompanying its statement, which it sent to the Presidium of the USSR Supreme Soviet, the Group insists that “these anti-constitutional and illegal decrees” be repealed and that Orlov, Shcharansky and Ginzburg be released immediately from prison.

*

In December 1977, I.P. Milgrom, the mother of A. Shcharansky, sent a statement to L.I. Brezhnev, Chairman of the Presidium of the USSR Supreme Soviet. She reminded him that no one may be punished without trial and requested that her son be released from prison until the start of the court examination. On 3 January 1978, I.P. Milgrom wrote a statement to Procurator-General of the USSR Rudenko. In her view, she says, her son is in fact already serving imprisonment without trial. In the same statement Milgrom asks for a doctor to be allowed access to Shcharansky in order to examine his state of health.

On 7 January 1978, Leonid Shcharansky, Anatoly’s brother, also wrote to the Presidium of the USSR Supreme Soviet:

On 16 December 1977 I inquired in the reception rooms of the USSR Supreme Soviet concerning the illegal detention in custody of my brother A. Shcharansky for over nine months during pre-trial investigation (see Article 97 of the Russian Code of Criminal Procedure).

I talked with a reception official, Comrade Fiklistov.

The purpose of my visit was to elucidate whether there exists a decree of the Supreme Soviet on the extension of pre-trial detention in custody beyond nine months, as the investigation is referring to it without producing any document.

This claim by the investigating organs appears dubious, since extension of detention in custody beyond nine months is not provided for by the law (see Article 97), irrespective of the duration of the pre-trial investigation.

Comrade Fiklistov evaded the issue and recommended that I apply to the USSR Procurator’s Offic. I did not consider this necessary since by the time of my conversation with Fiklistov the Procuracy’s term of authority in the case had already expired. I left my complaint at the reception room’s despatch office and to the present day have received no reply.

There is nowhere else I can complain to. Once more I am writing to the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet and I draw your attention to the fact that a basic law is being violated with regard to my brother. Article 156 of the Soviet Constitution states that “Justice in the USSR is administered on the principle of the equality of all citizens before the law and the courts.” Thus Article 97 of the Code of Criminal Procedure and Article 34 of the Fundamentals of Criminal Legal Procedure apply to all citizens — but they do not apply to my brother A. Shcharansky. This means that with regard to my brother the principle of equality before the law is being violated.

One more question to which I would like to receive an answer is: if a decree has been issued, why are they refusing to show it to me? Is it permissible that such decrees relating to individual freedoms and rights of citizens should be secret?

*

On 17 January 1978, the day that the second round opened at the Belgrade Conference [CSCE conference, October 1977 to March 1978], Irina Zholkovskaya-Ginzburg, Irina Valitova-Orlova and Leonid Shcharansky sent conference delegates a letter about the situation of their near ones. In this letter, as in the Helsinki Group’s statement, the illegality of detention in custody for over nine months is examined. The wives of Ginzburg and Orlov and the brother of Shcharansky write about the investigation’s methods:

In order to obtain the necessary evidence, they are putting pressure on witnesses, even threatening them with legal proceedings as accused persons. They are refusing to include in the case the testimony of obvious witnesses for the defence. On the other hand, they are trying to lure certain other witnesses with promises of a job or an apartment, while those who want to leave the country are promised that their emigration cases will be speeded up.

They write about the violation of the right to a defence: a special ‘security pass’ is required of Soviet defence lawyers; many lawyers are themselves afraid to undertake the defence in such trials; and “without reference to any law, defence lawyers from abroad are being refused access to the case.”

The Ginzburg Case.

On 28 November 1977, a former political prisoner sentenced in the case of the Leningrad group “The Bell, Valery Smolkin, was summoned to Kaluga from Vilnius. Smolkin did not go to the interrogation. He sent a letter firmly refusing to participate in the investigation of such a case.

At the end of 1977, Sergei Korekhov was taken from Nizhny Tagil to Kaluga for new interrogations (see also CCE 46.5; he was arrested in May 1977 for circulating leaflets and sentenced in September,  CCE 47.14). He refused to give evidence and declared a hunger strike.

At previous interrogations in the spring of 1977 Korekhov testified that he first heard about Ginzburg as manager of the Relief Fund for Political Prisoners in 1975 in Perm Camp 36, where remittances for 30 roubles used to arrive for political prisoners. After his release he had received money from the Fund while in the Urals; then in Moscow he had become acquainted with Ginzburg, had seen Malva Landa at his fiat, and had told them he intended to struggle against the Soviet regime.

Dmitry Verkholyak, who served a sentence with Ginzburg in Mordovia, was brought from Perm Camp 35 to Kaluga. On 3 November he returned to the camp.

On 7 December 1977, S. Kovalyov sent to the Moscow City Procurator’s Office, the KGB, the Kaluga Regional Procuracy and the Kaluga KGB statements asking that he be interrogated as a witness “in the case or cases of A. Ginzburg and Yu. Orlov”. Kovalyov referred to the fact that many prisoners in Camps 35 and 36 had already been questioned in Perm and Kaluga in connection with the Ginzburg case; in particular, Mikhail Sado (CCE 47.9) and A. Zeitunyan (in CCE 33.6, Nos 84-100, it was indicated that he was a ‘war criminal’) had been repeatedly interrogated. Informing his addressees of his close acquaintance with Ginzburg and Orlov, Kovalyov expressed his wish to give testimony as a witness:

  • on the personalities of the accused;
  • on conditions in Soviet political camps, since the accused were doubtless being charged with distorting information about them; and
  • on other specific episodes about which Kovalyov would prove knowledgeable. Kovalyov asked this his statement be included in the files on the accused.

Kovalyov only receuved a reply from Kaluga. On 12 January 1978 investigator Saushkin wrote to Kovalyov that there was no need for him to be interrogated in the Ginzburg case. Later a representative of the KGB in Camp 36, Chepkasov, in reply to Kovalyov’s question, told him that his statement had not been attached to Ginzburg’s file.

In December 1977, when he had already been pardoned, interrogations of Mikhail Sado (CCE 47.9) continued in Kaluga. Sado said to someone that for his testimony during the pre-trial investigation “they gave me Kaluga” and for his testimony in court ‘they will give me Leningrad’.

*

On 22 December 1977, the Lenin district court in Kaluga (chairman, S.T. Levteyev) examined the case in which Vladislav N. Uzlov (CCE 33.6. Nos. 10-11; CCE 46.5) was charged with refusing to testify in connection with the Ginzburg case (CCE 47.3). At the trial Uzlov pleaded not guilty. The sentence was 6 months of correctional tasks at his place of work with a deduction of 20 per cent of his wages.

When the court retired to confer, Uzlov went out on to the street and took several photographs of the court building. After the verdict had been read out he was called by an unknown person into the court chairman’s room who confiscated his film.

Similar trials for refusal to testify in the Ginzburg case (CCE 47.3) took place in January 1978 in Kaluga for Svetlana Pavlenkova and Leonid Borodin. Pavlenkova got the same sentence as Uzlov. Borodin was sentenced to a fine of 40 roubles.

*

On 3 February 1978, the anniversary of Ginzburg’s arrest, an appeal was sent to the Belgrade Conference signed by 164 persons from various cities in the Soviet Union. The appeal says, in part:

As long as Alexander Ginzburg is in prison the forces of human good are suffering another defeat.

Will your principles be embodied in life, or will this defeat prove to have been inevitable? The outcome depends, if not entirely, then to a very great extent on you, Messrs. Delegates!

On 2 February, a press conference took place in Ginzburg’s Moscow flat at which this appeal was handed to correspondents. Several people spoke at the press conference. Yuly Daniel said:

I do not presume to assess Ginzburg’s public activity or to pass judgement on his arrest from a legal or political standpoint. I want to speak of something else…

I had the bitter joy of being imprisoned together with Alexander Ginzburg… Both he and Yury Galanskov enjoyed in our midst not only love but also great respect for the clarity of their moral positions, for the spiritual principles to which they always remained true.

I do not think anyone will succeed in compromising Ginzburg, whatever his fate may be. All must know that any accusations of persona] self-interest made against Ginzburg are false, and one should not believe, either here or abroad, those people who, whether out of weakness, self-interest or baseness, are spreading such information.

Maria Petrenko stated that the charges against Ginzburg in newspaper articles, and what was transpiring from the interrogations of witnesses, “stagger one by their utter groundlessness”. She said that on behalf of herself and her late husband Grigory Podyapolsky she wished to testify as to “what kind of a person this man is”.

In the 1960s, before we ever knew Ginzburg, we felt for ourselves the charm and moral force of his personality. His “White Book” [1] showed us to what extent we were not alone in our aspirations to breathe freely…

Then, recounts M. Petrenko, when they made his acquaintance,

Alik turned out to be a very kind, very cheerful and very ill man… We were struck by his unparalleled kindness and his capacity to hear out, understand, encourage and help in word and deed every person who turned to him.

In a statement made in the name of the “True and Free Adventists” Rostislav Galetsky appraised Ginzburg’s activities as profoundly Christian and called for the protection of Ginzburg and his family ‘against the tyranny of the brutal butchers of state atheism”.

Pyotr Vins spoke of the gratitude of prisoners of conscience, Baptists and Ukrainian dissidents, to Ginzburg.

Information about the activity of the Relief Fund for Political Prisoners was given in statements by Irina Zholkovskaya-Ginzburg and Sergei Khodorovich, the Fund’s managers. They said that in addition to its basic source, Solzhenitsyn’s royalties, the Fund was being swelled “also by donations from many people inside the country”. They announced that their Fund had now amalgamated with the Children’s Fund (aid for the children of political prisoners), founded by Andrei Sakharov in 1974 with his ‘Cino del Duca” prize money, and that Yelena Bonner, who had earlier managed the Children’s Fund, was now regularly assisting them.

Valery Smolkin and Alexander Podrabinek addressed their statements to Ginzburg’s lawyer Edward B. Williams. Smolkin expressed his readiness to make available to Williams detailed evidence on Ginzburg’s personality and his own friendly meetings with him. A. Podrabinek, who has carried out some commissions for the Fund (for instance, in 1976 he journeyed to visit exiles in Siberia, CCE 44.14), also asked Williams to make use of his statement in his defence of Ginzburg.

The defence of Ginzburg, stated A.D. Sakharov,

must be most forceful and have a world-wide character…The defence of Ginzburg is also the defence of all his comrades and a fight against political repression in general.

Most of the materials of the press conference went into a samizdat brochure In Defence of Ginzburg. Also included in the pamphlet are document No. 27 of the Moscow Helsinki Group (see above) and a cycle of poems by Vitaly Pomazov dedicated to Ginzburg.

*

On 6 February 1978, Irina Zholkovskaya took her regular parcel to her husband. At the prison Kaluga Procurator Kagarov (CCE 36) was waiting for her. Kagarov told Zholkovskaya that he had been authorized officially to inform her of the extension of the investigation of Ginzburg’s case until 3 May 1978. To her question as to who had extended the term of the investigation, Kagarov replied, ‘The USSR Procurator-General”.

After this conversation Zholkovskaya was called to investigator Saushkin “on a matter of great importance to her”. At the KGB they handed her a note from Ginzburg dated 3 February 1978 asking her to find him a defence lawyer. They allowed Zholkovskaya to reply to her husband there and then, but they did not permit her to take away either his note or a copy of her reply.

On 16 February, Zholkovskaya was invited to Kaluga and Saushkin returned to her some of the things that had been confiscated during searches at the homes of Ginzburg and his mother (160 listed items). Returned to her, among other things, were tapes from which (as it turned out when she got home) recordings of Galich, Kim and Vysotsky had been erased (Zholkovskaya wrote a protest calling this ‘vandalism’), some books in Russian and foreign languages and an all-purpose power of attorney given to Ginzburg by Solzhenitsyn’s mother-in-law, E.F. Svetlova.

Then Saushkin asked Zholkovskaya about the lawyer. Zholkovskaya said that her husband had two lawyers, the American E. B. Williams and the Moscow lawyer E.A. Reznikova. Saushkin asked her to tell Reznikova that in a few days she would have to start studying the case materials. Two days later he himself telephoned Reznikova and summoned her. On 23 February, Reznikova had her first meeting with her client and began to study the ‘Case’.

The Orlov Case.

On 6 February 1978, investigator Trofimov (CCE 29.3) informed Yu.F. Orlov’s wife, Irina Valitova, that on 29 December 1977 the charge against her husband had been altered from Article 190-1 to Article 70 of the RSFSR Criminal Code and that the investigation of her husband’s case had been extended until 10 May. He also said that she should seek a lawyer.

In mid-February investigator Kapayev summoned Valitova (he came for her in a car) and told her she should find a lawyer urgently, within two days. Valitova refused to do this without a note from her husband. They then handed her a note from him with a request for a lawyer. Moreover, they unexpectedly told her she could even engage a lawyer without a ‘security pass’.

In connection with the anniversary of his arrest of 10 February, 109 people signed a statement calling on world public opinion to defend Orlov:

…The arrest and impending trial of Orlov constitute persecution of free thought, of free expression, of the free exchange of information…

The Moscow Helsinki Group issued a statement:

…With all responsibility we declare that Professor Orlov has not broken any Soviet laws and that his arrest on 10 February 1977 and ensuing prosecution are accounted for by purely political reasons, namely his founding and leadership of the activities of the “Group to Assist the Implementation of the Helsinki Agreements in the USSR” …

The law and civilized norms have been violated not by Yury Orlov but by the KGB’s investigating bodies who have kept Yury Orlov in severe prison confinement for a year without any meetings or correspondence with his relatives and without legal assistance…

The self-damning callousness and indifference to human lives displayed by the investigating authorities are characteristic: only after 40 days did they inform Yury Orlov’s wife of the radical change in the nature of the charge.

The principles according to which the KGB plays its sinister game of patience are unknown to us, subjecting some defenders of human rights to arrest and forcing others to emigrate. We merely note that its manifest aim, namely to crush the movement for the rule of law, has not been achieved…

The Christian Committee for the Defence of Believers’ Rights in the USSR also published an appeal on the anniversary of Orlov’s arrest. The authorities’ attitude towards members of the Helsinki Groups gives reason to suppose, the Committee feels, that the signing of an agreement providing for the observance of human rights was merely a propagandist step.

They regard detention in complete isolation as a method of exerting psychological pressure on Yu. Orlov, in an attempt to force him to admit non-existent guilt. Alteration of the article of indictment to a severer one shows that they have not succeeded in breaking Orlov.

The Shcharansky Case.

On 20 January 1978, Anatoly Shcharansky, who is in the KGB’s Lefortovo Investigation Prison, marked his 30th birthday.

In November and December 1977 more interrogations took place in connection with the Shcharansky case (see also CCEs 44-47).

On 29 November 1977, investigator Skalov interrogated Yelena Sirotenko a second time. She refused to take part in the investigation. In a statement of the same day addressed to Andropov she wrote:

… Everything said and known to me patently shows that the investigation has been falsified in advance. They even hint to one witness that he too could easily become a defendant …

(CCE 47.3 contained two inaccuracies regarding Sirotenko’s first interrogation: the interrogation took place on 14, not 15 November; Yelena’s father was not present at the interrogation — he refused to appear owing to illness.)

Between the first and second interrogations the Sirotenko family was subjected to aggressive tailing.

In the first days of December the exiled Mark Nashpits was brought to Chita for interrogations. The interrogations lasted for three days. He was confronted with the testimonies of L. Tsypin (CCE 47.3) and Lipavsky (CCE 44.2), pointing to Nashpits’s friendship with Shcharansky and to the active participation of them both in demonstrations by ‘refuseniks’. They hinted to Nashpits that if he behaved well at the investigation his release from exile and his departure for Israel would be speeded up.

On 13 December 1977, the exiled Boris Tsitlyonok was summoned to the Krasnoyarsk KGB for interrogation. In a complaint to the Procurator made on 18 December Tsitlyonok drew attention to the fact that during the interrogation there were violations of the Code of Criminal Procedure: his testimony had been entered in the record with glaring distortions and the investigator Mikhailov had threatened him with incarceration in a camp.

(Nashpits and Tsitlyonok were exiled for their part in a Jewish demonstration on 24 February 1975,  see CCE 36.4).

On 2 December 1977, Alexander Zinoviev (CCE 43-46) was summoned for interrogation. Next day, in an interview given to Swedish journalists, Zinoviev stated:

…I have only met Shcharansky once. He was acting as interpreter during my conversation with an American correspondent, Robert Toth… The point is that my talk with Toth was about the state of Soviet philosophy and sociology. There was absolutely nothing criminal about either Toth’s questions or my replies to them. Even if l view Soviet philosophy and sociology with utter contempt there is still nothing felonious about that. Still less is there anything felonious about A. Shcharansky’s participation in the episode. This is perfectly obvious. If, in spite of that, they have decided all the same to bring me into the case as a witness, it leads me to the supposition that the charge of betrayal of the Motherland brought against A. Shcharansky has no serious juridical basis.

On 5 December Zinoviev once more received a summons to interrogation but refused to appear. At the end of December Zinoviev was ‘brought in’ to Lefortovo Prison under guard; however, he declined to take part in the interrogation.

On 4 December Professor Naum Meiman, a member of the Moscow Helsinki Group, made a statement for the press explaining why he had twice refused to appear for interrogation in connection with the Shcharansky case: one, the interrogations go on for eight to ten hours and Meiman fears that in view of the state of his health he would be threatened with the same fate as the Czech professor Jan Patocka, who died of a stroke resulting from an eleven-hour interrogation; two, he does not feel it possible for him to take even a passive part in the investigation of a case “the aim of which is not to elucidate the truth but to endeavour spiritually and physically to break the accused”. He feels that “the pre-trial imprisonment of Shcharansky is nothing other than the practical application of the principle of presumption of the accused’s guilt, since…were Shcharansky at liberty, he would not evade trial”.

On 6 January 1978, KGB Colonel Volodin summoned I.P. Milgrom to Lefortovo and informed her that the investigation in Shcharansky’s case was completed; that Shcharansky was still charged under Article 64 of the RSFSR Criminal Code; and that his family must find a lawyer for him by 13 January. In a statement sent on 8 January to the head of the KGB Investigation Department I.P. Milgrom writes:

“It has become quite clear to me that the opportunities for a Soviet defence counsel, a professional lawyer, in the defence of my son are restricted. Furthermore, the investigation supervisor, Volodin, has told me that only a member of the Soviet Bar association with a special KGB security pass may be appointed counsel for the defence. This restriction, which contravenes the law, has made my task impossible.

“I have therefore appointed a professional barrister from Paris, Maître Roland Rappoport, who is independent of the KGB. He has kindly consented to participate in the case as defence counsel for my son.

“The supervisor of the investigation, Volodin, without reference to any law, has rejected the appointment of M. Rappoport. He has told me: ‘That is impossible.’ I have addressed a statement to USSR Procurator-General Rudenko requesting that he point out to Volodin the need to observe the law, but I have received no proper reply…”

(R. Rappoport is a member of the French Communist Party, Chronicle.)

In January 1978, the English barrister Isadore Fisch visited Moscow as a tourist. Having learned of Fisch’s forthcoming trip, Shcharansky’s wife, Natalya Shtiglits, asked him to meet Anatoly’s mother in Moscow and undertake his defence. Fisch agreed. On 12 January Milgrom and Fisch went to the KGB’s Investigation Department. Shcharansky’s mother requested that Fisch be allowed to defend her son. She had addressed the same request to Ilyukhin, the Procurator for Supervision of Investigations by the Security Agencies. An official in the Investigation Department refused to talk on the subject of Fisch. However, he said that the relatives must appoint a lawyer by 25 and not 13 January, as had been said earlier.

On 17 January refuseniks D. Beilina, V. Slepak, B. Chernobylsky, L. Ulanovsky and G. Khasin, who have repeatedly demanded in their statements to the Procuracy and the Supreme Soviet an end to violations of legality with regard to Shcharansky, were received by N.V. Tsybulnik, an assistant to the USSR Procurator-General. They put several questions to him:

1. On what grounds had Shcharansky’s detention in custody been extended? The Supreme Soviet has no powers under the Constitution to punish someone. It may pardon, decorate, amnesty and so forth, but not punish.

In reply Tsybulnik said that the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet, as a legislative organ, has the right to issue decrees valid for a particular case only, in exceptional instances authorizing detention in custody even after nine months. Being in prison is not a punishment. These six extra months will be taken into account later. To their remark that Shcharansky might even be acquitted, Tsybulnik said that in that case those guilty of prolonging his detention would be punished.

2. Ought not Shcharansky’s mother know her son’s position with regard to the appointment of a lawyer, or the name of the lawyer he wanted, or, perhaps, his wish that it be any lawyer of his mother’s choice?

Tsybulnik replied that Shcharansky’s rights were wider. He could choose a lawyer himself, making his application through the investigators. It was nothing to do with his mother. When they informed his mother of the need to find a lawyer by 25 January the investigation had been passing on her son’s instruction. To the question whether Shcharansky had really asked for a lawyer with a KGB security pass Tsybulnik replied: “If they said with a security pass, they meant with a security pass.”

Tsybulnik avoided discussing the question of what a lawyer’s security pass is. He admitted, however, that it is issued by the KGB.

The visitors insisted on the need for the mother to see her son in order to ascertain his position on the matter of a lawyer, remarking that this could not possibly be a secret of the investigation.

In conclusion they declared that they were not satisfied with the replies they had received, and they felt that Tsybulnik was not an objective third party in their dispute with the investigating organs.

*

On 10 February 1978, Leonid Shcharansky was summoned to the KGB. Colonel Volodin and Procurator Ilyukhin talked with him. Once again, the subject was the defence lawyer. Leonid said the family had a nominee, the French barrister R. Rappoport. Volodin replied that that was impossible. He showed Shcharansky a page of typewritten text on which it was written that Anatoly Shcharansky entrusted the search for a lawyer to his mother and brother. However, Leonid demanded a personal note from Anatoly or a meeting with him. He was refused both.

On 17 February, Volodin again summoned L. Shcharansky. He suggested that Leonid write a statement to the Investigation Department that his family was unable to find a lawyer. Leonid refused to write such a statement, saying that a lawyer had been found: Maître R. Rappoport.

On the same day I.P. Milgrom wrote a complaint to USSR Procurator-General Rudenko requesting his intervention in her son’s case.

On 23 February 1978, a representative of the KGB Investigation Department, Gubinsky, informed Shcharansky’s mother by telephone that a lawyer had been appointed by the investigation. He did not give the name, saying merely that the lawyer was a member of the Moscow Bar association.

The defence counsel so appointed is the lawyer Silva Abramovna Dubrovskaya (legal advice office 21).

*

On 15 February 1978, Literaturnaya Gazeta published an anonymous comment by a TASS correspondent entitled “An Adventurer on Tour”. It concerns Anatoly Shcharansky’s wife Natalya Shtiglits.

Anatoly’s relatives wrote an Open Letter about this to A. Chakovsky, the editor-in-chief of Literaturnaya Gazeta. The year of N. Shtiglits’s emigration is misrepresented, they noted: instead of 5 July 1974 the article has 5 July 1973. This was no accidental misprint. In this manner the documents relating to Shcharansky and Shtiglits’s religious wedding ceremony, dated 4 July 1974, were called into question. The letter’s authors go on to inform Chakovsky and Zamyatin, the Director-General of TASS, that in accordance with Jewish rites a marriage ceremony may be performed (“under the chupa [canopy]” as the Jews say) not only in a synagogue but also at home in the presence of ten men of age and an ecclesiastic. All this was fulfilled on 4 July 1974 at the flat where the newly-weds were living, and Natalya Shtiglits is in possession of an official document to this effect, on the basis of which the Supreme Rabbinate of Israel has declared the marriage legal. As well as this, the Shcharansky family refutes a letter from Shtiglits’s parents, cited by the paper, in which it is said that she has never been Shcharansky’s wife. The Shcharanskys write that Natalya’s mother not only was acquainted with Anatoly as her daughter’s husband: she was even a guest in their home, and in his parents’ home, both before and after Natalya’s departure. (The TASS correspondent’s comment in Literaturnaya Gazeta also contradicts the article “Anti-Soviets at Work” issued by TASS for foreign countries; the full text of the article is published in CCE 47.3.)

On 8 March 1978, a statement in defence of A. Shcharansky was issued by Andrei Sakharov:

Whether they are going to try him on an absurd charge of espionage or whether the authorities, reluctant to enter into direct conflict with the US President’s statement, will confine themselves to an ordinary accusation of anti-Soviet propaganda, either case will be an act of injustice and a challenge to world public opinion…

Today the total number of Helsinki Group members arrested has reached 18. At the Belgrade Conference the Soviet authorities have demonstrated before the whole world their unwillingness to fulfil the pledges made at Helsinki and even simply to discuss the issue of human rights. Under these circumstances the defence of Shcharansky, the defence of every person who is a victim of injustice, acquires especial significance as a matter of principle.