The Right to Leave, March 1978 (48.17)

<<No 48 : 14 March 1978>>

Since 1 January 1978 people emigrating from the USSR have not been permitted to take out officially stamped copies of their workbooks. Instead, they are issued with certificates listing the posts held (but not places of work!) and the period of work in each post.


The Case of Smogitel

In August 1977 the Kiev musician and composer Vadim Smogitel (b. 1939) sent the Presidium of the Ukrainian SSR Supreme Soviet an application for permission to emigrate from the USSR. He wrote that he could not conceive of his life without music, but that he had lost any hope of realizing his creative plans and of professional activity in the Soviet Union, and he describes how he came to this conviction.

In 1963 Smogitel was expelled from the conservatory after the fourth year for failing some exams. He was not permitted to retake them after a short interval. In subsequent years Smogitel several times started work with musical ensembles engaged in popularizing folk music. His work, which met with the approval of specialists and artistic organizations, was nonetheless put a stop to at the orders of the authorities. One of the examples given by Smogitel: recordings of the ensemble conducted by him were made for radio and broadcast several times, but then they turned out to be hidden in the chairman of the Ukrainian radio committee’s safe. The reasons were not explained to him.

In Information Bulletin No. 1 of the Ukrainian Helsinki Group it says that the oppression of Smogitel as a populariser of national music was especially stepped-up after 1972 — Smogitel was close to several of the Ukrainian intellectuals arrested at that time.

Recently Smogitel has been working as a part-time singing teacher in a school.

In his statement Smogitel indicates his purpose in emigrating to be to continue his musical education and to form an ensemble. Smogitel has not received a reply to the statement.

On 12 December 1977 Smogitel said in a telephone conversation to Canada: “Get me out of here somehow.”

The next day, when Smogitel was walking alone down the street in the evening, a man fell under his feet — and immediately police and voluntary militia appeared at his side. Smogitel was arrested. He declared a hunger-strike and maintained it until his trial.

On 14 December a search was conducted at Smogitel’s flat — papers and tape-recordings were taken away, including recordings of his musical compositions.

On 3 February 1978 the people’s court of the Soviet district of Kiev considered Smogitel’s case. He was charged under article 206, part 2 of the Ukrainian Criminal Code (‘malicious hooliganism’) with having, on 13 December 1977, attacked a man in the street and struck him, causing him to fall and receive physical injury. As witnesses at the trial, there appeared policemen, voluntary militia and a passer-by who gave evidence that he had not seen the brawl with which Smogitel was charged but had only seen scratches on the leg of the ‘victim’ at the police station. Smogitel rejected the defence lawyer appointed by the court, but his rejection was not accepted. At the trial it transpired that the lawyer was almost unacquainted with the case. The Procurator demanded that Smogitel be given 4 years in camp. The sentence was 3 years in an ordinary-regime labour camp.

No-one was admitted to the building where the trial was held. In the courtroom, apart from the ‘invited’ public, were only Smogitel’s mother and uncle. Furthermore, the trial, which had been set for 2 pm, began four hours earlier.

Agents guarding the court explained to people who started talking to Smogitel’s friends that these people were anti-Sovietists and slanderers. Among others at the court building was the recently released Nikolai Gorbal (CCE 47). His wife was specially summoned to take him away from the court.


On 10 February Nadezhda Svetlichnaya and Nikolai Gorbal sent a letter to the Prime Minister of Canada. They ask him to do all he can to obtain Smogitel’s release and to help him emigrate to Canada.


On 2 February 1978 the Kievan Grigory Alexandrovich Tokayuk (b. 1947) appealed to the Western public and to President Carter to help him emigrate.

In 1970 Tokayuk graduated from the Kiev State Pedagogical Institute of Foreign Languages having specialized in French philology. In 1972 Tokayuk, who was then teaching French language in an institute, went to France as a member of a specialist language group. In Paris he visited a friend with whom he had become acquainted in Kiev. When he returned to the hotel four KGB officials, who were among the members of the group, told him that he was 20 minutes late (he returned at 11.20 pm) and that besides this he had visited friends alone, which was against the rules. A few days later Tokayuk was sent back early to the USSR.

There, without any warrant for arrest, he was interned in the investigation prison of the KGB at the Ukrainian SSR Council of Ministers. Tokayuk was interrogated for 14 days and accused of intending to appear on French television with an anti-Soviet statement and of appealing to the French government for political asylum (according to the KGB investigators’ version the government rejected Tokayuk). After 14 days he was released, but he was forced to leave the institute and began working as an electrician.

In 1977 Tokayuk worked at the Atomic Research Institute of the Ukrainian SSR Academy of Sciences (doing technical translation).

In October 1977 Tokayuk was subjected to a series of interrogations lasting many hours. KGB investigators demanded that he give evidence against his friends and acquaintances, in particular against the writer Igor Pomerantsev (the investigators asserted that Pomerantsev had given him The Gulag Archipelago to read). Then they began to ask him about his foreign acquaintances, stating that they were all spies.

On 18 November 1977 Tokayuk was asked to sign a ‘Record of a Caution’ (according to the decree of the USSR Supreme Soviet Presidium of 25 December 1972), in which it said that he had ‘entered into contacts with foreign citizens suspected of cooperation with foreign intelligence and had transmitted information to them; he listened regularly to foreign radio stations and circulated ‘anti-Soviet fabrications’. Tokayuk refused to sign the ‘Record’, stating that all the charges were fabricated.

In January 1978 Tokayuk was asked to leave his job voluntarily.


In January 1978 member of the Ukrainian Helsinki group Ivan Kandyba (CCE 47) was summoned to the Lvov OVIR and told that a paper had come from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs requiring OVIR to clarify whether Kandyba had relatives abroad and in which country, whether he had asked them for a formal invitation, and also whether he had received an invitation. Kandyba was asked to reply in writing to the listed questions. He refused, stating that if there were an invitation, then they were obliged to give it to him personally, if not, then let them either allow him to leave the country without any invitation or else say straight out that they would not allow him out under any pretext. At this the conversation came to an end.


At the beginning of December, the Ukrainian Helsinki Group composed Memorandum No. 18, “On Discrimination Against Ukrainians in the Sphere of the Right to Emigrate”, addressed to the Belgrade Conference.

The memorandum notes that until recently the Soviet government did not allow any emigration, seeing it as a phenomenon that would destroy the myth of the ideal nature of Soviet society, where, in particular, the national question had been resolved in the most just way. Since the seventies the situation had begun to change.

“The present leadership has already ceased to call a man’s aspiration to emigrate treachery and does not bring him to trial for the mere expression of this aspiration (the memorandum was written before Smogitel’s arrest, Chronicle), but it takes many steps to reduce emigration and to suppress the predisposition to emigrate. In this context we are dealing with a differentiated approach by the government to three different categories of citizens who are potential emigrants: Jews, Russian dissidents and non-Russian dissenters. We are indignant that the natural aspiration of Jews towards the land of their fathers is turned by the government into a path fraught with ordeals; we are indignant that it tries to present the emigration of Russian dissidents from the USSR to Soviet citizens as the expulsion of unworthy people; but most of all we are indignant at the discrimination on grounds of nationality shown in the deprivation of non-Russian dissenters of the possibility of emigrating from the USSR.

“Leaving aside the question of discrimination against us Ukrainians in other spheres of life, we note that in the question of emigration discrimination is shown in the fact that up to now not one Ukrainian dissenter has received permission to emigrate from the USSR. Even in cases when someone has served a term of imprisonment for an attempt to leave the USSR and after release has continued to try to emigrate, the government does not allow him the opportunity of doing so.”

Three lists are included in the memorandum.

[1] The following are vainly trying to obtain permission to emigrate: V. Kalinichenko, E. Gritsyak (CCEs 43, 45), O. Berdnik (has been trying to obtain permission for about four years); N. Svetlichnaya, N. Strokatova, V. Zatvirsky, L Kandyba, L. Lukyanenko, G. Prokopovich, P. Kampov, V. Ovsienko, M. Lutsik, I. Terelya and V. Smogitel.

[2] The following are serving terms of imprisonment for an attempt to cross the border illegally: A. Bernichuk (in CCE 33 spelled Berniichuk, Chronicle), A. Murzhenko and V. Fedorenko.

[3] The following political prisoners have stated their wish to emigrate: Yu. Shukhevich, A. Turik, D. Verkholyak, A. Sergiyenko, I. Svetlichny, V. Romanyuk, D. Basarab, I. Shovkovy, G. Gerchak (he has now been released, Chronicle), V. Vasilik and Z. Krasivsky. The memorandum ends with the words:

“The situation in which the individual is not permitted either to circulate his ideas or to leave the country represents the height of injustice, for it completely deprives a man of his individuality, condemning him to spiritual death. Unfortunately, many Ukrainian dissenters find themselves in this situation. This is what forces us to appeal to the Belgrade Conference, asking it to discuss the question of discrimination against Ukrainians in regard to the right to emigrate, in order to further a just solution of this problem by the Soviet government.”


In 1975 Vladimir Gornostayev (b. 1952), an inhabitant of the town of Velikiye Luki (Pskov Region), made three telephone calls to the Russian department of Swedish radio in Stockholm. He expressed his opinion of their broadcasts and asked them to send materials for the study of Swedish. In November 1975 Doctor Korolkov came to Gornostayev’s home from the psychiatric clinic and said that if Gornostayev did not stop coming into conflict with the authorities he would end up in a psychiatric hospital (Gornostayev and his wife Galina are on the psychiatric register). In February 1976 KGB officials demanded from Gornostayev that he should stop telephoning Swedish radio. He promised.

In September 1977 the Gornostayevs submitted to OVIR documents for emigration to Israel, On 20 December the newspaper Pskovskaya Pravda published an article by head of the Pskov KGB V. Karasyov in honour of the 60th anniversary of the secret police. This article said, among other things:

“A favourite occupation of the Gornostayevs was listening to anti-Soviet foreign broadcasts on the radio. Having a low level of political education, they were unable to distinguish truth from falsehood and decided to emigrate abroad and let the initiators of the broadcasts know of this.

“Soon an official invitation arrived for the Gornostayevs, indicating that their relatives, an uncle and aunt, were inviting them to come and live with them in that country. However, it soon became clear that the invitation was a fake, that they had no relatives abroad and that their actions in trying to obtain permission to emigrate in this manner were illegal …”

On 22 December it was announced to the Gornostayevs in OVIR that they could not emigrate to Israel until they had received their parents’ permission.

On 27 December a summons arrived for the Gornostayevs from the psychiatric clinic; they did not go. On 4 January 1978 a nurse came to their home from the clinic and demanded that they should visit the clinic.

Galina Gornostayeva sent a statement to the Israeli Foreign Ministry with a request to give her Israeli citizenship.

On 12 January A. Podrabinek sent chief doctor of the Velikiye Luki psychiatric clinic G. I. Novikov a letter. Citing the conclusion of a psychiatric expert of the Working Commission to Investigate the Use of Psychiatry for Political Purposes (‘Gornostayev exhibits no symptoms of mental illness…’), Podrabinek writes:

“Any compulsory measures of a medical nature applied to V. I. Gornostayev will be viewed as the use of psychiatry for political purposes. If such occurs, the Working Commission will give Gornostayev’s case wide international publicity.”


On 14 March 1976 Nikolai Petrovich Shatalov, his wife Antonina Sergeyevna and children Tatyana, Vasily and Alexander (Stavropol Region, Petrovsky district, Sukhaya Buivola village, 5 Zelyonaya St) sent a statement to the USSR Supreme Soviet in which they renounced Soviet citizenship and asked permission to emigrate from the USSR. Later in a letter to Brezhnev they gave reasons for their request as follows:

“We were all born in the years after the present regime was founded the only thing we have received in abundance, the only benefit among those promised us by the Soviet constitution, has been un-paid compulsory labour. Sated with unfulfilled promises, we express our protest. We do not agree with the socio-political and economic system set up to secure the power of feudal princes and to rob the working mass of the people, and we, as representatives of this people, are not content with our lack of rights and the hypocrisy that surrounds us.

“We are indignant at the ordering of us about, degrading to human dignity, from the day of our birth right up to the grave, we are not content with economic beggary and moral poverty, we are not content with an unlimited perspective of being in the embraces of the Gulag on any pretext and even without one. We are not content with falsehood and hypocrisy raised to the level of official policy, and finally we cannot reconcile ourselves with the tyranny and violence of your henchmen for whom, due to the decline of morality and decency in society, there is no sacred matter, sacred place or sacred principle.”

On 6 June 1976 the Shatalovs submitted a statement to the Stavropol OVIR. Head of the Stavropol OVIR N. G. Krol refused on various pretexts to accept their statement, saying that they should all undergo psychiatric investigation. Nonetheless 2,000 roubles in duty were taken from the Shatalovs for their renunciation of Soviet citizenship.

In August 1976 Tatyana Shatalova went to Moscow in order to find out how to complete the documents for emigration. In OVIR they told her that they would not make out the documents and that they would not go anywhere. In the reception office of the USSR Supreme Soviet Presidium, she was told that their request was unfounded. Then Tatyana went to the American embassy for advice. Not far from the embassy she was again detained by the police. Tatyana was sent to Stavropol psychiatric hospital; there she was submitted to treatment for four months.

Then ‘for refusal to carry out duties in connection with his post’ N. P. Shatalov was dismissed from his job. After this they attempted to prosecute him for ‘parasitism’, but this intention was dropped when it was found out that he had been in his job for 33 years (plus five years in the Stalin camps under the ‘decree on ears of corn’ for stealing a few kilograms of maize).

On 19 November 1976 18-year-old Vasily Shatalov was arrested ‘for refusal to answer to routine call-up for military service’ (article 80 of the Russian Criminal Code). The Shatalovs thought that ‘29 November’ had been written on the order, while the authorities asserted that it was ‘19 November.’ On 1 March 1977 the court sentenced him to 2 years in a camp. Neither a defence lawyer nor any of the Shatalov family were present at the trial. Vasily is in camp post-box 17/6 in the Stavropol Region.

On 23 June 1977 the Shatalovs wrote a letter to Brezhnev. The beginning of the tetter is summarized above. It ends thus:

“We appeal to you as to the halo that encompasses the whole system and ask you to bring to bear a modicum of good sense and the same amount of authority so as to put an end to our martyrdom — and let us out of the USSR.”

On 10 August 1977 N. P. Shatalov was arrested. He was charged under Article 190-1 of the Russian Criminal Code for his statements and complaints to Soviet official bodies.

Shatalov was sent for diagnosis to the Serbsky Institute. V. Bakhmin and A. Podrabinek sent a letter about this on 8 February 1978 to the director of the Serbsky Institute, Professor G. V. Morozov.

On 9 February A. S. Shatalova and Tatyana and Alexander Shatalov appealed to the Moscow Helsinki group for help:

“Our fellow-villagers are set on us and activists in civilian dress nose around near our house. A car stuffed with employees often stands outside our house, directing blinding headlamps through the windows for hours on end. At the club a civil show trial of our family was organized (to egg other people on) and villagers, voluntary militia and KGB men were packed in. And they abused and branded our family.

“Since we submitted an application to emigrate life has become a hell for our family.”

In mid-February, immediately on their return from Moscow, the 2,000 roubles’ duty was returned to the Shatalovs.


Muscovite M. P. Belyakov and his family applied for permission to emigrate. In September 1976 the Belyakovs received a refusal, based on the Russian nationality of M. P. Belyakov and his wife. A complaint to head of Moscow OVIR Fadeyev, in which M. P. Belyakov pointed out that his mother is Jewish (she was even married by a rabbi), remained unanswered.

In June 1977 M. P. Belyakov and his family again submitted an application to emigrate. On 19 December 1977 M. P. Belyakov’s eldest son, 29-year-old P. M. Belyakov, a schizophrenic and a 2nd group invalid who lives separately from his family, was summoned to OVI R. He was told without any reason being given that they had again been refused permission to emigrate. On 26 December P. M. Belyakov committed suicide.

On 12 January 1978 M. P. Belyakov sent a complaint to Brezhnev. The complaint ends thus:

“Our efforts to obtain permission to emigrate have already taken from me and my family one-and-a-half years of our lives, and now they have taken my son as well. After his death in such a tragic fashion it is quite impossible for me to remain in this country.

“I ask you to permit me to emigrate from this country together with that part of my family that remains alive — my wife and two children — without making any further mistakes leading to such tragic results.”


On 25 January 1978 Lydia Alexandrovna Drozdova (CCE 47) and Lydia Artemovna Valendo, inhabitants of Minsk (74 Kalinin St, flat 70) sent Brezhnev a joint statement (copy to heads of delegations to the Belgrade Conference and the Helsinki group):

“… We demand that our request to emigrate from the Soviet Union be complied with.

“We have renounced Soviet citizenship and declared our disagreements with the existing system.”


See also “Threats to Reshat Dzhemilev” in the “Persecution of the Crimean Tatars” (CCE 48.14).


Document No. 32 (2 February 1978) of the Moscow Helsinki Group tells of violations of the right to choose one’s country of residence (the right to emigrate) and the right to visit other countries.

A list of graduates of MFTI (Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology) who have been allowed to leave the USSR is cited (Anatoly Shcharansky, who graduated from MFTI in 1972, was in 1973 refused permission to emigrate on the pretext that during his study at MFTI he had come into possession of ‘secret information’), and also a list of MFTI ‘refusenik’ graduates.

The document also tells of Vera Fyodorovna Livchak, who is unable to see her daughter who emigrated to Israel in 1971 (CCE 39). She has not been allowed to visit her daughter, since the USSR does not have diplomatic relations with Israel, has not been allowed to visit relatives in Austria since they are ‘distant relatives’, and has not been allowed to invite her daughter to come to her — no reason for this being given.


Germans Ivan Teirer, Helmut Martens and Valentin Klink from the town of Issyk (Alma-Ata Region) were released on 6 January 1978 at the end of their terms of 1 year (CCEs 45, 46).

After six months’ imprisonment in the camp, they were offered conditional early release if they would take back their passports. They refused. On leaving the camp they were again asked to take their passports, again without result.

From 17 to 19 January all three, and Teirer’s wife Nellie Teirer (CCE 46), were summoned separately to the town soviet. They were told: if you don’t take your passports back, we’ll put you in prison; if you do take them, we promise you can emigrate. They refused.

The attempts at persuasion continued at the town police station. Deputy head of police Sakenov promised that they could emigrate before the end of 1978, and then all four finally agreed. The passports were made out in a day. In the applications for issue of a passport they all wrote why they had previously handed in their passport and why they were now taking them back; they also wrote that if the “promise about emigration was broken, they would again hand in their passports and that time for good. At the police station attempts were made to persuade them to rewrite the applications, but unsuccessfully. When the passports had been issued the documents for emigration were quickly accepted from all of them — they were even hurried to submit them.

The campaign of renunciation of citizenship with sending-in of passports and other documents (CCEs 41, 42) has evidently come to an end — all have agreed to accept their documents back. Applications for emigration have been accepted from participants in the campaign, but many have already received a refusal. However, the number of those emigrating is nonetheless rising; in Issyk, for example, latterly one or two families have been receiving permission almost every month.

During her participation in the Germans’ emigration movement Nellie Teirer was summoned to various official bodies of the authorities 38 times and complied with the summonses 11 times.


In February 1977 the Estonian German Pyotr Bergman left camp at the end of a 3-year term (CCEs 32, 34).

In 1977 Bergman again received a refusal for permission to emigrate from the USSR on the pretext that two of his sons were married to Estonians.

At present two of P. Bergman’s younger sons are faced with call-up for the army.

On 16 February 1978 A.D. Sakharov appealed to President Scheel of the Federal Republic of Germany and to Chancellor Schmidt to help Bergman’s family emigrate from the USSR. Sakharov recalls the fact that P. Bergman’s grandfather and father began to try to obtain permission to emigrate to Germany as long ago as 1926, for which, in 1929, they were arrested and exiled.


A group of Moscow Jewish women refuseniks have, since October 1977, been demanding to be received personally by L. I. Brezhnev (CCE 47). In January 1978 12 refuseniks sent a new statement to L.I. Brezhnev. They write:

“Among us are mothers, separated from their children: Khana Elinson, Faina Kogan and Batsheva Elistratova; children separated from their parents: Mikaela Kornovskaya-Ass, Natalya Rozenshtein and Natalya Khasina; and women separated from their close relatives: Dina Beilina, Yanella Gudz, Lidia Likhterova, Larisa Vilenskaya, Elena Dubyanskaya and Irina Gildengorn. For this reason, refusal of permission to emigrate on the grounds that families would not be reunited is invalid.

“The refusal of permission to emigrate to Khana Elinson, Dina Beilina, Yanella Gudz, Faina Kogan, Natalya Khasina, Natalya Rozenshtein, Batsheva Elistratova, Mikaela Kornovskaya-Ass and Irina Gildengorn on security grounds clearly contradicts the statement by M V D minister N. A. Shchelokov when he received Jewish refuseniks on 20 October 1976: ‘No-one can be detained for more than five years on security grounds, and if such cases exist, it is a misunderstanding which must be quickly put right’…

“We are ready to take the so-called reasons for refusal to an international court. We declare with every determination that we are not prepared to be refused emigration any longer, and in connection with this we demand to be received.”

Each of the 12 women supplemented her signature under the letter with details of the dates and officially stated reasons of refusal of permission to emigrate and a reasoned refutation of these reasons.

On 27 January representatives of the refuseniks tried to hand in a petition and were received by head of the administrative organs department of the Central Committee, Ivanov, and deputy head of Moscow OVIR, Zotov. A. Ivanov said, as he had previously (CCE 40), that the procedure for taking decisions on the issue of visas would not be subject to any juridical changes; that there would be no laws on emigration and each case would be individually considered. The visitors were promised that their applications would be considered at the highest level in the very near future and that each case would be individually considered.


At the beginning of March Dina Beilina was given permission to emigrate and was ordered to leave the USSR within two weeks. Beilina had prior to this been refused permission for more than six years. During this time the reasons for refusal were changed four times.


On 8 March the same women tried to stage a demonstration (see “News in Brief”, CCE 48.21).



At the end of November 1977, three weeks after his arrest, refusenik Valery Sorin (CCE 47) was released from detention. The case of his ‘parasitism’ was dropped. Sorin found a job.


On 9 December 1977 refusenik Alexander Paritsky (CCE 47) was again summoned to the KGB. There he was told that he was transmitting, in letters and by telephone, slanderous information to the West. Paritsky was told that next time he would be called to account. After the conversation Paritsky sent a complaint to the procurator of Kharkov region.


Some peasants in the village of llynka (Pavlovsk district, Voronezh Region), who are Jews by confession, want to emigrate to Israel (CCE 43). Many of them are unable to submit documents for emigration, since chairman of the ‘Rossiya’ collective farm V. D. Tarasov will not give them the necessary certificates. In May 1977 four Matveyev families and the Piskarev family (in all 40 people) submitted an application to leave the collective farm, but Tarasov will not call a general meeting.

On 7 October 1977 the Matveyevs and Piskarevs submitted complaints about this to the USSR MVD OVIR. Their complaints were sent to the regional Procuracy. On 21 October that procuracy sent them to the procuracy of the Pavlovsk District with a request to ‘take measures’. On 3 November the procurator of Pavlovsk District sent the chairman of the Talovaya district soviet executive committee a letter ‘on eliminating violations of the Collective Farm Statutes’.