On 14 February 1978, a policeman came to the parents of Vladimir Voinovich, who live in the town of Ordzhonikidze (Dnepropetrovsk Region), and demanded that his father come with him at once to the police station. While the father was getting ready, the policeman glanced into a neighbouring room where his wife was lying after a new heart attack and asked; ‘Who is that lying there? Your son?’ At the police station the station head and a man in plain clothes told the father that on 3 February his son had disappeared and was probably no longer alive.
At the same time similar rumours were circulated by police officials amongst Voinovich’s relatives in other towns.
Two weeks after the policeman’s visit Voinovich’s mother died.
In mid-March Vladimir Voinovich sent a statement to N. A. Shchelokov, [USSR] Minister of Internal Affairs:
“… there are not and could not have been any grounds for anxiety about my life on the part of police officials if only because on 4 and 5 February a district policeman visited me and wanted to know about my means of support.
“I would like to know for what purpose this loathsome provocation was set up and who is the subhuman creature who thought of it?…
“If I do not receive from you a considered reply within the period prescribed by law, I shall know that you have taken upon yourself the responsibility for this provocation.”
In March 1977 painted slogans started to appear here. On the walls of the polyclinic where Central Committee officials and their families are treated was written: ‘Whites only.’ On a shopfront with a portrait of Brezhnev: “Wanted Criminal”. On the house where First Secretary of the Moldavian Central Committee Bodyul lives: “A Nest of Gentlefolk”. And so on.
Pensioned Party members and voluntary militia were mobilized to patrol the streets at night, but the slogans continued to appear. Finally, the culprits were found — they were three ninth-form pupils. The ringleader is described by his teacher as an intelligent, inquisitive youth who asked keen, searching questions. The boys had formed their own ‘party’, K I S (the slogans were always signed K I S), after the first letters of their names. The ‘programme’ of this ‘party’ was: ‘To study well, go to an institute, reach a high position in society and make a revolution from above.’
Thanks to the (woman) procurator for cases involving minors, who made representations to Bodyul for the boys to be punished wisely, they were not put on trial but sent to a special school. It is thought that the boys had been helped by their old teacher, who taught them in the fifth and sixth forms: she used to give them money for paint. This teacher, who is the daughter of a late secretary of the Moldavian Central Committee, was expelled from the Party.
In December 1977 leaflets of a religious content, signed ‘Jehovah’s Witnesses’, were scattered over Novosibirsk from a small AN-2 aircraft. The leaflets had been hectographed on sheets of squared paper.
On 6 January 1978, the secretary of the Pervomaisky district Party committee said in a report to the Party activist group that during the past year four people in the district had been expelled from the Party for christening their children.
On 8 December 1977 in Leningrad a doctor visited the mother of Vladimir Borisov (CCEs 43, 44, 46). He was from the psychoneurological dispensary at which Borisov is registered and wanted to know about his state of health: ‘We have been told that on 5 December he was detained in Moscow.’
On 9 December Borisov was detained in Moscow by officials of the Moscow and Leningrad Criminal Investigation Department and forcibly taken to the Leningrad station. An official of the Leningrad CID demanded that Borisov go to Leningrad and put in an appearance at his place of registration, where CID officials would ‘have a talk’ with him. Borisov was also told that he was required to live at the place where he was registered and that if he did not go to Leningrad by 10 December it would ‘be the worse for him’. Borisov ignored this threat and continued to live in Moscow — with his wife.
White Mikhail Kukobaka was in the Mogilev psychiatric hospital (CCE 47) he lost his hostel room on the orders of director of the Bobruisk leather combine P. S. Kuzmich. In the initial period after leaving the hospital Kukobaka was obliged to sleep in the railway station. Then he was once more temporarily (until 1 May 1978) registered at the hostel, after he had signed a pledge that he would not exhibit in his room the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, photographs of activists in the human rights movement, or objects of a religious character.
On 23 December 1977 chief doctor of the Mogilev Regional psychiatric hospital M. T. Kuznetsov sent Viktor Nekipelov a reply to his statement of 15 October on the forcible hospitalization of Mikhail Kukobaka (CCE 47):
“the interests of the mentally sick who have no relatives and guardians are defended, first and foremost, by the doctor in charge, while private individuals sometimes do not act in the interests of the sick person; in the case in question we see a tendency, on the pretext of ‘defending’ a sick person, to make use of him for the purposes of political insinuation…Your statement on the hospitalization of Kukobaka being ‘illegal’ is unfounded and has a purely declarative character. Kukobaka was discharged from the hospital on 25 November 1977.”
In mid-December 1977 Vladimir Rubtsov (CCEs 43, 44) was ‘cautioned’ under the decree of 24 December 1972. The record listed literature confiscated in a search on 30 November 1976 (CCE 43). Rubtsov signed the record but wrote at the end:
“In view of the fact that I have been shown no documents to prove that the literature found in my possession during the search has a slanderous content and is politically harmful for our society and state, I consider the record of caution that has been compiled to be unfounded; in my future actions I intend to rely only on my personal conscience, the law, the Constitution and an objective (from my point of view) conception of what is useful for society and the state.”
In mid-December 1977 Boris Mityashin (CCE 46) was cautioned ‘according to the decree’.
On 9 February 1978, the specialist council for the defence of dissertations in the USSR Academy of Sciences’ Institute of the Russian Language ‘reconsidered’ a decision of the institute’s Academic Council of 25 February 1965 and made representations to the Higher Degrees Commission to deprive Master of Philological Science Larisa Josifovna Bogoraz of her academic degree. L. Bogoraz was one of the participants in the demonstration on Red Square on 25 August 1968 against the invasion of Czechoslovakia by Soviet troops (CCE 3).
At the session all members of the council, apart from one who spoiled his ballot-paper, voted in favour of ‘reconsideration’.
In December 1977, a commission inspecting the student hostel of the Mining Institute took measures to remove from the wall of one room ‘naked women’ (a reproduction of a picture by Rubens), and from the wall of another — a portrait of President J. Carter.
The opening of an exhibition of 20 Moscow artists — members of the painting section of the Moscow city committee of graphic artists — was set for 3 March 1978. The exhibition was arranged in the Exhibition Hall at 28 Malaya Gruzinskaya Street. At a preparatory meeting it was demanded that works by V. D. Linitsky (12 canvases in the series ‘Apocalypse’) and four works by V. Provotorov be removed, Chairman of the section Ashcheulov and the head of the department of culture accused Linitsky of religious propaganda. Especially unacceptable, in their opinion, were the depictions of a swastika (the Hindu sign of Shiva), of the Star of David (symbol of Judaism) and of John the Baptist prostrate before God.
In protest at this a demonstration of artists taking part in the exhibition was set for 4 pm on 3 March in front of the City Party Committee building. It was planned that artists would show passers-by photographs of their works. As a result of the compromise that was reached (Linitsky removed his sign of Shiva, and Promotor removed two of his works ‘Crucifixion’ and ‘Old Woman’) the exhibition opened on 7 March and the demonstration was cancelled.
It was forbidden to put up the posters which had been specially printed for the exhibition.
On 22 December 1977 chairman of the Committee for Broadcasting and Television Lapin spoke at a conference of creative and management employees in television. Mentioning a case where in a certain television film the speech of the hero, a Latvian who spoke Russian with an accent, has been dubbed in pure Russian precisely because of the accent, he condemned this action. ‘All accents of the brotherly peoples who study and speak Russian should only be welcomed by us, since they are studying Russian in addition to their own native language. Under no circumstances should this be considered a defect… True, there is one accent that irritates us all…recently we have been hearing it less often, but there should be as little of it as possible.’ There were 200 people at the conference, of whom not less than a quarter were Jews.
On 3 or 4 January 1978, during discussion of the New Year ‘Little Blue Light’ programme, Lapin made himself even clearer: ‘The programme was compiled in such a way that one might think we had no Russian national culture. Raiken, Krastev and Levchenko, up until 31 December there was Khazanov…And the songs: Fredkin, Feltsman, Frenkel…In all this can be heard an unpleasant accent that irritates us all. In future there should be as little of it as possible.’
In connection with the cancellation of the celebration of Constitution Day on 5 December the question arose as to what would happen about the traditional demonstration on Pushkin Square in Moscow which has taken place on this day every year since 1965 (see, for example, CCE 43).
On 30 November 1977 14 people sent a letter to the chairman of the Moscow City Soviet:
“… we inform you that the silent demonstration is being transferred to Human Rights Day, i.e., to 10 December, at 7 pm. We ask you to instruct the police authorities not to permit hooliganism on the square …”
There was also another point of view — to keep to tradition. On 5 December, several people were detained at about 6 pm on the approaches to Pushkin Square and taken to a police station. After a while they were released. Several people succeeded in reaching the square. However, there was in effect no demonstration.
On 10 December more than 20 people in Moscow found themselves under house arrest from the morning, among them: members of the Helsinki group N. Meiman and V. Slepak; chairman of the Soviet group of Amnesty International, writer G. Vladimov; I. Zholkovskaya and I. Valitova, P. Podrabinek, N. Shatunovskaya and O. Joffe (Iofe), K. Velikanova and I. Kristi. V. Bakhmin was not allowed to leave the house where he was staying as a guest. A. Podrabinek and T. Osipova were taken to police stations on attempting to leave home.
The demonstration nevertheless took place. Near the Pushkin monument at 7 pm from 20 to 30 people removed their hats for several minutes. Conditions on the square, unlike in the previous year (CCE 43) were, although tense (there were many ‘onlookers’), at least outwardly calm.
On 11 December N. Meiman, T. Osipova, A. Podrabinek, V. Bakhmin, E. Bonner, V. Slepak, V. Nekipelov, V. Kapitanchuk and priest G. Yakunin sent a letter to the Belgrade Conference, Kurt Waldheim and G. Meany,
Saying that about 20 people had been kept in their flats and several seized on the streets, the authors of the letter state:
“This is an arbitrary act not only and not so much against separate individuals as against the very idea of human rights, and for this reason it cannot be allowed to pass. On the anniversary of the adoption of the U N Declaration of Human Rights a total disregard of the basic idea of the Declaration has been demonstrated with the utmost clarity to the whole world.”
The letter emphasizes that the practice of blocking people in their flats without any kind of legal basis is becoming systematic. The authors call on official and public organisations to ‘express their attitude to these actions’.
A demonstration for the anniversary of the ‘aeroplane’ trial of 1970 was set for 24 December 1977 at 10 am. As always it was to take place outside the Lenin Library, opposite the reception office of the Presidium of the USSR Supreme Soviet. About 30 people signed a previously prepared statement for the press about the forthcoming demonstration.
On the 24th all those who had signed the statement and a few other people were prevented from leaving their houses or were detained on the street. Gershuni, Kristi, Pliskova, Pinkhos Podrabinek, Slepak, N. Fyodorovna, Grimm, Dulcin, Ginter, Nudel, Valitova, Zholkovskaya and others were subjected to house arrest. Several people nonetheless made their way to the appointed place and were seized when they got there. N. Meiman was detained at 2 pm, when he was leaving his house on other business. He was taken to police station 43 where about seven potential demonstrators were already being held. Both house and police arrests came to an end at about 5 to 6 pm.
On 8 March 1978 Moscow Jewish refuseniks (see The Right to Leave’) decided to hold a demonstration on the steps of the Lenin Library. Almost all the participants were detained on the way there or not allowed to leave their houses.
Only N. Rozenshtein and I. Gildengorn managed to make their way to the appointed place in time. Before they were seized, they managed to unfold their placards with texts in Modern Hebrew. They were both, like all the other detainees, taken to one of the police bases and held there until evening. The policemen were very polite. Some major had had a talk with them and instructed them to show good manners.
On the evening of 12 March 1978 near Moscow’s ‘House of Friendship’ (the building of the Societies of Cultural Links with Foreign Countries) a protest demonstration took place against the attack by Palestinian terrorists on peaceful inhabitants near Tel-Aviv.
A. D. Sakharov and E. G. Bonner took part in the demonstration. The majority of the other demonstrators were Jewish refuseniks. The demonstrators raised placards saying, ‘Shame on the Murderers of Children’. The surrounding public, amongst whom were KGB agents, were extremely hostile to the demonstrators. Placards were snatched away and ripped up. Shouts were heard: ‘Clear off to your Israeli’ Police politely asked the participants in the demonstration and the crowd that had gathered to ‘disperse’.
About 25 to 30 people took part in the demonstration.
A FREE TRADE-UNION
On 25 November 1977, a press conference took place in Moscow at which it was announced that a group of workers and engineering and technical employees from various towns who had been dismissed from work as a result of conflicts with the management (often for criticism) had formed an association which they had called a ‘Free Trade-Union’. Leader of the group Vladimir Klebanov and other members of the group told journalists about the dissatisfaction of many workers with their situation, the violation of labour laws, the dismissals and other persecutions to which they themselves and other workers had been subjected.
A request for the registration of the Free Trade-Union was sent to the International Labour Organization. A draft of the statutes has been written.
In December representatives of the Free Trade-Union held another press conference. From December to March, members of the Free Trade-Union met more or less regularly at the Central Telegraph building in Moscow.
Several members of the Free Trade-Union have been subjected to forcible psychiatric hospitalization.
On 19 December V. Klebanov was detained by the police and interned in Moscow psychiatric hospital No. 7. The chief doctor of the hospital M. S. Rubashov refused to give Klebanov’s wife any information on his condition. Four days later Klebanov was transferred to Makeyevka psychiatric hospital, from where he was discharged on 28 December, On 7 February Klebanov was again detained in Moscow and sent to Donetsk psychiatric hospital.
It is known that in January and February Moscow worker Gavriil Yankov was held in a hospital for two weeks, and Varvara Kucherenko for three days.
Also in February several members of the Free Trade-Union were detained and sent to a special remand centre.
One of the responses to the formation of the Free Trade-Union was a statement from Mikhail Kukobaka (CCE 47) sent by him on 11 February to Brezhnev. Kukobaka writes that, as he is a worker, the concerns of Klebanov and his comrades are close and comprehensible to him; he gives examples of the gross violation of safety measures and other infringements of workers’ rights that he has come across in his career (Kukobaka is now working as a loader in Bobruisk). Kukobaka states that ‘a state trade-union covers up the authorities’ ‘abuses’, and he protests against the persecution of the organizers of the Free Trade-Union which is being carried out with the purpose of ‘intimidating the workers who are most aware and who speak out in defence of their rights’.
The Moscow Helsinki group has expressed its opinion on the formation of the Free Trade-Union (document No. 36 of 16 February 1978), The group writes:
“We are following this activity with interest and await information on the aims and tasks of the association. We hope that the formation of a free trade-union will have significance in the development of legal consciousness in our country. In this connection the Helsinki group considers it essential to remind the Soviet and world public that its formation is legal and based on the law.”
The last assertion is documented by reference to article 225 section 15 of the Code of Labour Laws where it says, in particular, that ‘Professional unions act in accordance with the statutes promulgated by them and do not require to be registered with state organs’.
Vladimir Alexandrovich Klebanov was born in 1932. He graduated from a mining technical college and worked in the Donbass as a miners’ foreman and an engineer-planner. In 1965 he began to speak out in defence of miners’ interests. In 1968 he was arrested and charged under article 187-1 of the Ukrainian SSR Criminal Code (equivalent to article 190-1 of the Russian Code). Klebanov was ruled not responsible with a diagnosis of ‘paranoia’ and underwent compulsory treatment first in Dnepropetrovsk SPH, then in Makeyevka in an ordinary mental hospital.
Leaving hospital in 1973 he was unable to get a job anywhere. Addressing complaints about his case to central official bodies, he became acquainted in Moscow with many people whose fate was similar to his. In 1976 a group of about 40 people composed, with his participation, an Appeal to Soviet and International Bodies about the infringement of their labour and housing rights and about persecution of them for their complaints. In February 1977 Klebanov was forcibly hospitalized in Moscow and then sent to a Donetsk hospital. He spent two months in psychiatric hospitals but was not subjected to ‘treatment’. V. Klebanov lives in Makeyevka.