The Right to Leave – 2, March 1978 (48.17)

<<No 48 : 14 March 1978>>


On 12 December 1977, members of the Moscow Helsinki group, the Christian Committee for the Defence of Believers’ Rights and the Working Commission to Investigate the Use of Psychiatry for Political Purposes appealed to the delegates at the Belgrade meeting. Academician Sakharov also supported this appeal.

The authors state that the movement of Pentecostalists for emigration from the USSR grew significantly in 1977. More than 20,000 believers submitted official applications to emigrate. The authors of the appeal see the cause of this in an intolerant attitude to believers on the part of the State, in the campaigns of slander and intimidation, in the persecution of believers’ children in school, and in the impossibility of giving children a religious upbringing and education.

“… An important role in the decision to leave the country was played by the adoption of the new [1977] constitution, in the threatening perspective it presents of the intensification of the scourge of a totalist atheistic ideology which binds the religious conscience of the believers.”

The document emphasizes that persecution of Pentecostalists for their religious convictions and for their aspiration to emigrate from the USSR, and also the refusal to give them permission to emigrate, constitute a gross violation of the Final Act of the Helsinki conference.


Pentecostalists have appealed to the UN Human Rights Committee and the delegates of the Belgrade Conference with the following proposals:

— To condemn the KGB organs which intimidate religious believers and suppress applications to emigrate, and to make those organs criminally answerable;

— to condemn the actions of Soviet OVIRs, which permit immigration only on an official invitation from close relatives;

— to ask the Soviet government to allow to leave without red tape all those who cannot get the agreement of relatives to their departure or obtain certain certificates (for example witnessing to the death of parents who died 30-40 years ago, or birth certificates lost during the war);

— to consider at the UN and at the Belgrade meeting the question of the Soviet authorities’ detention of Pentecostalists’ correspondence from abroad;

— to set up the post of Supreme Commissioner for Human Rights in the UN, with powers to form a commission for investigations on the spot, in any country from which complaints may come.

Since, under the Soviet constitution, the Church is separate from the State, Pentecostalists consider themselves entitled to have international contacts independently of the State. They ask Christian associations and government organizations of other countries and also human rights institutions and organizations to enter into religious and legal relations with them. Besides this the Pentecostalist communities invite Mr Waldheim, Queen Elizabeth and President Carter to visit them. On behalf of 10,000 Pentecostalist would-be emigres the letter was signed by about 100 representatives of communities from all parts of the Soviet Union.


On 20 February more than 200 believers appealed to the Pentecostalist and Baptist missionary societies of the countries of Western Europe, America and Australia, and also to the International Red Cross and Red Crescent to give a general guarantee for all Pentecostalists wishing to emigrate from the USSR that they will be received and supplied with whatever is necessary. In the opinion of believers such a guarantee would deprive the Soviet authorities of the opportunity of detaining them in the country.


In January 1978 the deputy senior presbyter of the Pentecostalists registered with the All-Union Council of Evangelical Christians and Baptists (AUCECB), P. K. Shatrov, together with several other representatives of the AUCECB, went to the USA and met President Carter. According to believers, to questions about the emigration of Pentecostalists Shatrov replied that only believers who are not registered want to leave the country — those who acknowledge no authority whatever, and only very few of them at that. (In actual fact among the 20,000 Pentecostalists who have submitted applications to emigrate there are many members of communities registered with the AUCECB).


In many letters Pentecostalists recall that in 1955 in China the authorities permitted all Christians who wished to do so to leave the country without any invitation from abroad of any kind.

(Primorsky Region [Soviet Far East])

If Pentecostalists who submit documents for emigration from the USSR have an invitation from a fellow-believer, the authorities reject them on the grounds that they have no relatives abroad. If the invitation is received from direct relatives, other grounds for refusal are found. Thus Valentina Polishchuk, whose invitation was sent by her mother, father and brothers, was refused with the statement that she worked well and that therefore it was desirable for her to stay in Primorsky territory. Lyudmila Drokina, who received an invitation from her mother and father, was refused on the basis that she has a son of an age at which he is liable for call-up. Alexandra Kabikovn, who has an invitation from her mother and two sisters, could not get her documents accepted due to the absence of a certificate from her drunkard husband, from whom she is divorced.

The authorities intimidate the non-believer parents of Pentecostalists so that they will not give their children who wish to emigrate from the USSR certificates saying they have no material claims.


Nakhodka Pentecostalists Chuprina, Perchatkin and Stepanov were officially invited to the US embassy in order to make essential corrections in the invitations for permanent residence in the USA. In January 1978 all three went to Moscow. They were detained outside the US embassy. With money taken from them M V D officials bought them air-tickets and forcibly sent them back to Nakhodka.


About 200 people took part in the Pentecostalist hunger-strike that started on 4 October (CCE 47). Groups of believers held hunger- strikes in turns, each for 10 days. Burlachenko, Yurovsky and Anishchenko had their salaries halved for participating in the hunger-strike.

Foreign telephone conversations and the foreign correspondence of believers are being blocked, as previously.

On 20 December Boris Perchatkin on behalf of fellow-believers sent President Carter a telegram with the following contents:

“We greet you on the occasion of Christ’s Birth: ‘Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, goodwill to all men…’

“We wish you health and success in your efforts in defence of human rights. We ask you and the whole American people to say a prayer on Christmas Day for those who do not have freedom of belief.”

Church of Christian-Pentecostalists of the town of Nakhodka

The telegram was accepted by a post-office employee. The next day Perchatkin was summoned to the post-office, ostensibly for a recalculation of the telegram’s cost. A man who claimed to be a post-office employee but who refused to give his name returned Perchatkin his money and the text of the telegram. He said that the text contradicted our laws and was designed to undermine the security of our state. Perchatkin asked that the first half of the telegram should be sent, but the post-office employee did not allow even this.


On 11 January 1978 Perchatkin was again summoned for a ‘talk’ with a KGB official (CCE 47). He was told that he must be called to account for his telegram to Carter. It was promised that it would be checked whether fellow-believers really had asked Perchatkin to send such a telegram on their behalf. Perchatkin was shown several texts of Radio Liberty broadcasts in which it was said in his name that the K. G B is forcing Boris’s workmates to give evidence against him, that his wife was intimidated during his trip to Moscow (she had remained at home), and that believers were being forced to leave their jobs. Perchatkin was told that an investigation was being conducted into his case and that the truth of these statements would be checked; he was reminded that he had been cautioned under the Decree.

After the raids on Chuprina’s home, where Pentecostalist prayer meetings were held (CCE 47), believers submitted a request to the police and KG B to find the guilty persons. ICG B officials stated that they would conduct an investigation in parallel with the organs of internal affairs, since in their opinion Chuprina’s home had been ransacked by the Pentecostalists themselves in order to accuse the authorities of persecuting believers. For a while they even asserted that the pogrom had been arranged by Chuprina herself.

On 11 January KGB officials acquainted Perchatkin with the materials of the case. The case is being conducted by investigator Vdovkin. It includes the admission of a certain Magda that he attacked Chuprina’s house and that he did so from anti-religious motives — because his friend had become a believer.


(Krasnodar Region [South Russia])

In May 1977 71 invitations from fellow-believers living abroad were sent to Pentecostalists living in the Caucasus. Of these only six were handed over. In particular, invitations were sent to 12 families in Starotitarovskaya. Only the family of presbyter N. P. Goretoi received an invitation. Through the Moscow post-office Pentecostalists applied for a search to be made for the letters with invitations, indicating their numbers. After a while the reply came that the letters ‘had not been found anywhere’.

In the summer the Goretois submitted the necessary documents to the town of Temryuk’s passport office and paid state duty. On 22 December an official of the passport office announced to them that information was required about the USA citizen who had sent them the invitation — when and where he was born, what was his occupation and how much he earned. The Goretois were warned that this information must be provided by the end of December, otherwise they would be refused permission to emigrate. At the American embassy it was explained to Goretoi that such information about American citizens who sent invitations was not needed. It was sufficient to have the assurance of a guarantor — the state governor who had certified the invitation.

Applications for emigration are not being accepted from the remaining Pentecostalists in Starotitarovskaya on the grounds that they have no invitations.


In May 1977 the presbyter of the Pentecostalist community in the village of Rokosovo, Khust district, Transcarpathian Region, Mikhail Yurkiv, submitted a request to the Presidium of the USSR Supreme Soviet for permission to emigrate from the USSR for religious reasons.

On 23 December 1977 Yurkiv was arrested. At this time, he was ill and was on sick-leave. Three of his children, minors, were also ill. A search was conducted in the house. According to Yurkiv’s wife Malvina the arrest and search were carried out without a procurator’s warrant being shown. All the money in the family was taken away — 870 roubles. During the search Yurkiv’s wife and children were driven out of the house. After his arrest Yurkiv was put in a cold cellar of the Uzhgorod KGB. The arrest and search were conducted by senior investigator of the Uzhgorod KGB E. M. Koryukin, local policeman of the Khust district OVD, F. I. Lemak, and A. I. Pogorilyak.

The Christian Committee for the Defence of Believers’ Rights in the USSR sent a letter to the USSR Procurator pointing out the procedural violations in Yurkiv’s arrest and search and that he had been shown no charge. The Transcarpathian Regional Procuracy replied that Yurkiv was arrested and is being brought to trial for embezzlement of money; no violations of legality were admitted regarding the investigation of Yurkiv’s case.


On 27 July a group of Pentecostalists arrived at OVIR in the town of Zaporozhe in order to find out the fate of their applications for emigration. The reply came that in order to emigrate from the USSR, besides an invitation from abroad it was necessary for children as well as adults to pay 500 roubles each for renunciation of citizenship; adults had to pay a further 300 roubles each in state duty. They were also told that the journey to Canada would cost 400 roubles for each adult and not less than 200 roubles for each child. The head of OVIR reckoned that a family of 11 people would need about 12,000 roubles to emigrate from the USSR.

Besides this the head of Zaporozhe OVIR said that through the fault of the postal services invitations might be held up, mislaid or lost altogether. The Zaporozhe Pentecostalists do indeed reckon that the invitations sent them should by this time have arrived.

After this visit the believers wrote a letter to the UN with a request that Voice of America should make it clear how much money it was in actual fact necessary to spend in order to emigrate to the USA, Canada or Australia from the USSR. In the same letter they ask the Tolstoy and other foundations to give them financial aid.


More than 350 families of Pentecostalists from Rovno Region submitted an application for permission to emigrate from the Soviet Union for religious reasons. The authorities refused, stating that there were no grounds for the emigration of believers and no guarantees that any country would receive them. Ten people appealed in a letter to J. Carter

in the name of all the Pentecostalists in the region who had applied to emigrate. They ask the President of the USA and the governments of other countries to give them the right of entry and to make representations to the Soviet government about their emigration.


In the autumn active propaganda work was conducted in the village of Zhaden, Rovno Region. First the USSR Deputy Procurator- General, the commissioner for Rovno Region of the Council for Religious Affairs, the secretary of the district party committee and the chairman of the district soviet executive committee arrived. Together with the collective farm administration these officials tried to dissuade all those who had submitted applications to emigrate from leaving. They said that the fellow-believers in Canada who were trying to help them emigrate were former Bandera supporters who had the Canadian authorities in their pockets. The believers were threatened that the certificate of registration of the community would be taken away from their presbyter. After a while Glukhovsky, the deputy republican presbyter of the Pentecostalists registered with the All-Union Council of Evangelical Christians and Baptists (AUCECB), and the regional presbyter arrived. Achieving no success, they returned after a few weeks with deputy senior presbyter of the AUCECB Pentecostalists, Shatrov. Their speeches in the community again brought no results.


Rovno Pentecostalists who have submitted applications to emigrate are being summoned to OVIR, where attempts are made to dissuade them. If a person appears to be hesitating, a record of ‘oral withdrawal’ is made out. Then such believers are held up as an example to other members of the community.


A conversation about emigration was held at his work with Pentecostalist Richard Primakov from Selets in Dubrovitsa district, Rovno Region, on 6 January 1978. The chairman of the trade union committee, the head of the personnel department and a KGB representative asked Primakov to sign a statement previously prepared by them, renouncing his intention to emigrate. Primakov did not do this. Then the KGB official suggested the following alternative: those present would themselves write, as witnesses, that Primakov applied to emigrate in error and no longer wished to leave the country. Primakov declared that he wished now, as formerly, to emigrate from the USSR and was waiting for an invitation. Despite this the text proposed by the officials was signed by those present.


On 12 January a band of hooligans attacked N. V. Dubinets in the village of Drabovo, Cherkassy Region. He was badly beaten up and the bridge of his nose was broken. Immediately after this occurrence Dubinets tried to submit a written complaint to the head of the Drabovo police station, but the latter asked him to complain to his presbyter.

Then Dubinets went to hospital. There he was met with the words: ‘Ah, the emigrant has arrived.’


15 Pentecostalists from Brest Region have appealed to President Carter to give them the right to immigrate to the USA, since the Soviet authorities are refusing to give them permission to emigrate, asserting that no country will receive them.


At the end of September 1977 official of Tallin OVIR V. A. Dmitriev told Pentecostalist presbyter Gorelkin that they would make out documents for emigration for all those wishing to emigrate, but asked believers to keep this a secret and behave quietly, so as not to stir up the rest of the Estonian population. In Tallinn, Tapa, Narva, Valga and Kohtla-Jarve documents were accepted from Pentecostalists for emigration. On 19 November deputy minister for Estonian internal affairs Matus announced that all who had submitted applications for permission to emigrate for religious reasons had been refused due to lack of invitations from relatives abroad. Following this there started a deliberate shadowing of believers, summonses to interrogation, blackmail and interference in family affairs. On 10 January 1978 an article “A Web of Lies” by E. Lebedev was published in the newspaper Soviet Estonia in which the presbyters of unregistered Pentecostalist communities in Tapa and Narva, Gorelkin and Matveyuk, were represented as criminals and swindlers, and the believers who had submitted applications to emigrate as hoodwinked victims.


Presbyter Vasily Ivanovich Gorelkin (CCE 47) sent a statement to official of the administrative department of the communist party Central Committee Albert Ivanov. He asks permission to emigrate from the USSR and tells about himself. Gorelkin was born in 1930 in China (his parents went to China in 1927), There he grew up, was educated and worked from 1950 as a teacher in a Russian school. In 1955, together with his parents, he came to the USSR. In November of the same year Gorelkin wanted to return to China and submitted an application for this. In April 1956 he was refused permission to leave. Nonetheless Gorelkin for another 19 years remained a Chinese citizen.

He writes that in the USSR he was everywhere treated with mistrust, he often had to change his place of residence because it was difficult to find work, and since he did not hide his religious convictions people everywhere tried to avoid him. As long as 22 years ago Gorelkin decided to move from the USSR to his sisters in Australia and received invitations from them. Since then, he has regularly sub-mitted documents for emigration and receives refusals from OVIR. While he has been living in the USSR Gorelkin has twice been condemned on criminal charges; in his opinion this happened because of his religious convictions and attempts to emigrate to Australia. In the two years he has lived in Estonia Gorelkin, who has ten children and a paralysed wife to support, has twice been dismissed from work — the second time in December 1977 from the post of caretaker with a wage of 80 roubles a month.

On 22 November 1977, in the reception office of deputy minister of Estonian internal affairs Matus, Gorelkin was told that the question of his emigration had been decided in the affirmative and that he could prepare to leave. Gorelkin sold and gave away everything that he possessed, leaving only things he would need for the journey. On 6 December in Rakveri local KGB official Smit and Tallin O V IR official Dmitriev informed Gorelkin that issue of permission to emigrate was being postponed for seven months and would take place on condition that he cooperated with the authorities; otherwise, it would be refused, Gorelkin, not wishing to hear out this proposal and also the slander against another Estonian presbyter, Matveyuk, tried to leave the investigator’s office. Dmitriev detained him by force and told him that in the K G B courtyard there was a place where they could ‘do him over’ and no-one would see or hear. Dmitriev told Gorelkin that he would be condemned and sent to Solovki and threatened him with a car crash. The conversation went on from 10 am to 5 pm.

On 18 January Gorelkin was summoned to the town police station in Tapa. This time Major-General Timusk of the republican administration talked to him. He accused Gorelkin of slanderous activity and incitement of believers to betrayal of the motherland and asked him to get out of Estonia.

On 29 January it was announced to Gorelkin in O V l R that he had been refused permission to emigrate for the reason that in the questionnaire he had indicated the higher education he received in China.

In the opinion of the authorities Gorelkin does not have such an education.


Pentecostalist and father of two sons, V. K. Vasilyev, appealed to UN Secretary-General K. Waldheim and also to the participants in the Belgrade meeting, for help in obtaining permission to emigrate to the USA. He tells how the authorities of the city of Vilnius are trying through a court to expel him and his family from the house where they live.



On 1 March one more member of A. D, Sakharov’s family, Alexei Semyonov (son of E. G. Bonner) left the USSR In the autumn of 1977 he was expelled from Moscow’s Lenin Pedagogical Institute for ‘lack of progress’ (he was in the fifth year of the mathematical faculty). His ‘lack of progress’ was due to having twice received ‘unsatisfactory’ on his military training exam. In all four years Semyonov had been among the best students of his year and had also received good results in his military training. In the head of the military department’s report to the rector of the institute, recommending Semyonov’s expulsion, it said that Semyonov was unworthy of the name of teacher, since he had said: ‘I only want to get my diploma.’


On 3 March Yury Grodetsky, an inhabitant of Leningrad, and his family left the USSR. In 1972, when the orchestra in which he worked was on tour in Mexico he decided not to go back to the Soviet Union. Eight days later he thought better of it, realizing that his family would not be allowed to join him. After his return to the USSR, he spent 18 more days in freedom (under the unflagging surveillance of the KGB), after which he was arrested and given 4 years under article 64 of the RSFSR Criminal Code (with the application of article 43). In 1976 he left Vladimir prison at the end of his term (CCE? 42, 35), and then lived in Luga (Leningrad Region).


Ninel and Yury Andreyev, inhabitants of Leningrad, have left the USSR. In 1977, when they were trying to obtain permission to leave, they sent off their passports to the USSR Supreme Soviet; the passports were returned to them via the police. From February to March 1977 the Andreyevs held a prolonged hunger-strike.