Extrajudicial Persecution (48.18)

<<No 48 : 14 March 1978>>

[1. Vsevolod Kuvakin]

In 1976-77 a legal inspector of labour of the Central Committee of the Trade-union of Oil and Gas Industry Workers, Vsevolod Dmitrievich Kuvakin (b. 1942, jurist, no party affiliation), sent the Communist Party Central Committee and L. I. Brezhnev several letters in which he pointed out the crisis situation in the country, the complete inertia of the people and the growth of alcoholism and crime. Kuvakin criticized the government for the gap between word and deed and the hushing-up of problems, and pointed to the people’s lack of trust in the government. Criticizing Communist Party policy, he wrote that the Party was not managing to fulfil the role of the leading force in society.

He received his sole reply on 20 October 1977, when an instructor of the Moscow city Party committee’s department of science and higher educational establishments, N. N. Fedotov, officially informed Kuvakin that not one of his letters would be considered, while he himself would be dismissed from work and would not in future be permitted to work in his profession. The same day, head of the legal inspectorate of labour V. F. Voronin and secretary of the Party bureau of the Central Committee of the oil and gas trade-union V. I. Gusev forced Kuvakin to submit his resignation. In doing this they referred to the arrival of a demand from the Party organs. (As it transpired, the order of the Presidium of the trade-union central committee about relieving Kuvakin of his post was prepared three hours before the conversation with him.) His identity card, pass for the canteen and key to his office were taken from him there and then.

Subsequently Kuvakin repeatedly complained to the All-Union Central Trade Unions’ Council about this order, pointing out that his resignation was offered as a result of pressure from the administration. These complaints brought no concrete results.

On 24 October 1977 Kuvakin sent a letter to the Presidium of the USSR Supreme Soviet, asking permission to renounce Soviet citizenship, with the right to live on the territory of the USSR as a stateless person. Giving reasons for his request he wrote that in effect he was deprived of the rights given to Soviet citizens by the USSR Constitution.

Endeavouring to defend his right to work in his profession Kuvakin appealed to the Supreme Soviet (three times), the Trade Unions’ Council, the eighth session of the USSR Supreme Soviet, Yu. P. Andropov, V. V. Grishin, I. V. Kapitonov and A. 1. Shibayev — without receiving any reply. In his letter to Andropov he wrote:

“I am not a dissident, but the officials of the Moscow city Party committee have made me a dissident…

I have not performed any illegal action…Where then is that right to ‘think differently*, of which you spoke in your report?”

On 26 November Kuvakin sent off his passport to the Supreme Soviet. In an accompanying letter he pointed out that the period for consideration of his application to renounce his citizenship had expired, and asked for the issue of documents on the right of residence in the USSR as a stateless person to be expedited.

On 12 December deputy head of Moscow OVIR A. E. Zotov informed Kuvakin that there were no grounds to satisfy his request for renunciation of citizenship since he did not intend to emigrate from the USSR.

In December Kuvakin tried to get in touch with the chairman of the Soviet group of Amnesty International, G. N. Vladimov. Not finding Vladimov at home, he left Vladimov’s wife his own home telephone number. Two days later a man calling himself Vladimov rang Kuvakin and, after having listened to his story about himself, said that Amnesty did not deal with such cases. He advised Kuvakin to appeal to A. D. Sakharov and gave him his telephone number. A few days later Kuvakin found out from Vladimov that the latter had never rung him up, but that he himself had a few days ago had a call from a man calling himself Kuvakin who insulted him and generally behaved in a boorish fashion.

On 7 February 1978 Kuvakin sent the MVD an application for the return of his passport since he was effectively being denied renunciation of citizenship and was deprived of any sort of social status. On 24 February Kuvakin’s passport was returned to him.

On 10 February at a press conference for foreign journalists V. D. Kuvakin made a statement. Kuvakin assessed himself to be under ‘an unconstitutional ban on the practice of my profession*, resulting from the critical comments he had expressed on the Communist Party Central Committee. He pointed out that he had violated no laws but had only attempted to make use of the right given him as a citizen to be responsible for all that took place in the country and to express his opinion about the social policy conducted.

[2. Alexander Zinoviev]

A. A. Zinoviev (CCEs 43-45) continues to be persecuted. His scholarly works have been withdrawn from publication in the USSR and other socialist countries. It is forbidden to mention his name in scholarly literature. His books, which should have been published in Bulgaria and Poland, have not been.

Pressure is being put on Zinoviev’s relatives and wife and on their friends. One of Zinoviev’s brothers, a colonel, was dismissed from the army. An acquaintance of Zinoviev had his telephone disconnected because his wife had used it to telephone her sister in Hungary. A former research student of Zinoviev’s was forbidden to defend her dissertation. A friend of his wife’s, living in France, was not permitted to visit the Soviet Union. On 19 January Zinoviev made a statement:

“It is the custom with us to mark all kinds of anniversaries. I too wish to celebrate an original anniversary. One year has passed since I was dismissed from work…

“During this year l found out for myself that discussion of the violation of human rights in our country does not correspond to reality, since such rights are altogether non-existent by the very nature of our society…

“Together with this I wish to note one extremely important positive result of this year: the authorities’ attempt to entirely isolate me and my family from society has been a failure, …”

On 25 January, eight months after he submitted his documents, Zinoviev was informed that he had been refused permission to travel to the Federal Republic of Germany.

In mid-February the Moscow Helsinki Group spoke out in defence of Zinoviev (Document No. 33):

“… Alexander Zinoviev is being persecuted and deprived of work and means to live not for any kind of actions, but for his thought. For independent, unregimented thought that is not subject to anyone’s bidding, for his own philosophical view of things and events …”

[3.  Boris Zolotukhin]

During the investigation into the case of Konstantin Simis’s book (CCE 43) jurist Boris Zolotukhin was expelled from the Party for a second time. (Zolotukhin was excluded from the Moscow Bar and expelled from the Party after defending Ginzburg at his trial in 1968. He subsequently managed to be reinstated in the Communist Party.)

Zolotukhin was accused of the fact that, knowing about the book ‘of anti-Soviet, slanderous content’ that his friend Simis was writing, he had not had a talk with him and had not informed Party or other official organs. To this Zolotukhin objected that there was no point in hurrying — the investigation had not yet ended, and only the court could call the book anti-Soviet or slanderous. In his view the book was simply of a critical nature. Besides this, he remarked that to inform someone of the affairs of other people, and all the more of the affairs of his friends, was not one of his principles. To the question as to whether he trusted the investigation agencies Zolotukhin replied that in his work both as a procurator and as a defence lawyer he had many times proved to the investigation agencies that they were mistaken.

At a Party meeting called to decide the question of Zolotukhin’s expulsion there were about 20 people, not one of whom was a worker (Zolotukhin works as a legal expert in a manufacturing enterprise). The majority voted for expulsion, and about four of those present voted against. Zolotukhin did not go to the bureau meeting of the district Party committee which confirmed the expulsion.

[4. Vadim Nechayev]

In December 1977 an attempt was made to hospitalize the Leningrad writer Vadim Nechayev.

On 6 December a nurse came to his home from the district polyclinic with a demand for him to come for investigation with regard to the pneumonia he had suffered from in February 1976. Nechayev refused. On the evening of the same day a nurse came to him from the district psychiatric dispensary; she demanded that Nechayev come to the dispensary for investigation and possible hospitalization. (Nechayev has been on the dispensary’s register since 1964, when he went there complaining of headache. Since then he has not once been to the dispensary.) Nechayev again refused.

Vadim Viktorovich Nechayev was born in 1937. He started to publish in 1957. Four of his books have been published in the USSR and two of these have been translated and published in six countries. In 1967 he was accepted into the Writers’ Union. Since then, however, he has not managed to publish anything.

In a letter of 21 December to the secretariat of the Writers’ Union board he writes:

“My fate is not an exception. The manuscripts of bright, original writers in Leningrad are castrated, they marinate for five to seven years in publishing houses and on leaving them lose their immediacy. Tragic consequences of this are the fates of Rid Grachev and Genrikh Shef. Many unquestionably talented authors, known in literary circles for the last decade, to this day have not had one book published: V, Bakhtin, S. Dovlatov, V. Gubin and the poets D. Bobyshev, O. Okhapkin, V. Krivulin, E. Shvarts and Yu. Alekseyev — I could give more than fifty names.

“Over the past years I have openly spoken out in support and defence of the culture of unofficial writers and artists, for which actions I in turn ended up on the ’black list’. I felt its effect on myself for the first time in 1963, after N, S, Khrushchev’s attack on the intelligentsia, when a cycle of my stories was withdrawn from the journal Zvezda. For the last two years I have been deprived of any earnings and live on the proceeds from my library. But I am not ashamed of my fate — there was a time when Osip Mandelstam also lived like this.

“A year ago the Museum of Contemporary Art grew up on my initiative. I participated in organizing an exhibition in solidarity with the Biennale-77 in Venice, in order to draw attention to the work of contemporary artists. After my return to Leningrad from Moscow, where this exhibition was closed down by police officials, a strange situation arose: I was presented with an ultimatum from the secretary of the Leningrad section of the Writers’ Union — to stop any activity which supposedly contradicted the Writers’ Union statutes.

“Simultaneously came a threat to examine me and intern me in a psychiatric hospital.

“At the secretariat on 14 December 1977 I in my turn tried to raise openly urgent problems. The sole reaction was an accusation against me of being a defender and ideologist of an unofficial, so-called ‘alternative culture’. And I was reminded of the slogan of the civil war period: ‘Who is not for us is against us.’ The ultimatum was repeated: ‘Either you stop all activity in defence of this culture, or you will be expelled from the Writers’ Union and forced to emigrate.”

In January 1978 Vadim Nechayev was expelled from the Writers’ Union “for activities incompatible with the Statutes of the USSR Writers’ Union, preparation and distribution of the underground journal Archive, for support of the anti-Soviet Biennale in Venice, and for preparing materials intended for publication abroad which were confiscated from a Swedish tourist”.

The basic accusation at the session of the secretariat of the Leningrad section of the Writers’ Union was formulated by Yevgeny Voevodin, who had shortly before this visited Vadim Nechayev as a guest and leafed through Archive in his home (in CCE 43 the two first issues of Archive were summarized and Nechayev was named as one of its two publishers).