Arrests, Searches, Interrogations, May 1978 (49.7)

<<No 49 : 14 May 1978>>

Alma-Ata, Tashkent.

On 19 March, a member of the Moscow Helsinki Group, Tatyana Osipova, flew from Moscow to Alma-Ata. On leaving the plane she was stopped by a policeman and one other person, who told her that it was necessary to check her ticket.

Tatyana Osipova, b. 1949

Despite the fact that there was nothing wrong with her ticket, Osipova was taken to a police station, where a search of her luggage was carried out ‘to check for explosive and highly flammable substances’. Osipova tried to object that at Domodedovo airport her luggage had already been searched with no result. During the search issues of the Chronicle of Current Events and Helsinki Group documents were taken from Osipova’s briefcase and confiscated as being ‘unsuitable for circulation on the territory of the Soviet Union’. (The search was nominally headed by Senior Police Sergeant V. V. Sapozhnikov. In actual fact a man in plain clothes, who did not introduce himself and whose name was not entered in the record, was in charge.)

On the evening of the same day Osipova went by taxi to the town of Issyk. Not far from Issyk a policeman got into the taxi and ordered the driver to go to the police station. There a lieutenant-colonel of the MVD, admitting that he had pursued Osipova from Alma-Ata, tried to find out from her whom she was visiting and why. Then police officials sent Osipova off in the same taxi to Alma-Ata, demanding that the next day she fly to Moscow.

Osipova left for Tashkent (see “Persecution of Crimean Tatars”, CCE 49.12).

On 25 March, before Osipova’s flight to Moscow, she was again searched at the police station in Tashkent airport. Her personal notes, addresses, a postal-order receipt and the record of the search in Alma- Ata were confiscated. After the search Senior Police Lieutenant Ivanov said: ‘What is he to you? D’you want to complain about the police? You mustn’t complain about the police!’ This time Osipova was not given a record of the search and was not allowed to take notes from it.

On 10 April Osipova sent the Procurators of the Kazakh and Uzbek SSRs a declaration demanding that the police officials who had carried out the illegal searches be punished and that the confiscated things be returned to her.


On 22 March, a search was carried out at the home of artist Igor Burikhin and his wife Elena Vargaftik in connection with case no. 86 — ‘engagement in illegal printing’ (article 162 of the Russian Criminal Code — ‘engagement in forbidden crafts’). In the record of the search 46 items were listed: copies of books by Tsvetayeva, Pasternak, Khodasevich, Berdyaev, Bulgakov, Zernov, Solzhenitsyn, Kopelev and others. V. A. Malikov, a fourth-year student who attended the search as a witness, pointed out books by Kopelev (in German) to Senior Lieutenant Balanev, who was in charge of the search.

After the search Burikhin and Vargaftik were interrogated. V. V. Yegerev conducted the interrogation. To the question ‘Where did you get the books from?’ Burikhin replied: ‘From people who have emigrated and from foreign tourists.’ Vargaftik said that she did not know anyone taking part in forbidden printing production and, therefore, could not answer questions on the case in question. Both refused to answer questions concerning other people. On the same day three of Burikhin’s acquaintances were interrogated.


Since November 1977, when Lyubov Murzhenko, the wife of ‘aeroplane case participant’ Alexei Murzhenko, returned from Moscow where she had attended the departure parties for T. S. Khodorovich, she has been constantly harassed: local policeman P. N. Fesenko has been spreading slanderous rumours about her, insulting her in the presence of her eight-year-old daughter, and threatening her.

On 29 March 1978, when L. Murzhenko returned home from a shop and went into her courtyard, Fesenko went up to her and told her to accompany him to the police station in order to sign a warning about finding employment. Murzhenko asked for the opportunity to take her shopping home and tell her child what was happening. Fesenko and four unidentified men demanded she go with them without delay. Then Murzhenko gave her neighbours the key to her flat and asked them to take her shopping home. As soon as her neighbours had gone into the house, on the command ‘Drag her!’ the five men seized L. Murzhenko by the arms and legs and dragged her along. Murzhenko cried out with pain and started to call for help. People began to gather. Then Fesenko and the others threw L. Murzhenko to the ground. Fesenko wrote out a record that on being detained L. Murzhenko had insulted him. On the same day Momot, a judge of the Darnitsky district people’s court in Kiev, ordered the detention of L. Murzhenko for a ten-day period. She ignored Murzhenko’s request that eyewitnesses be called.

During Murzhenko’s arrest she went on hunger-strike in protest. On 20 April she sent the Chairman of the Kiev City Court a complaint about the actions of Judge Momot.

Dnepropetrovsk Region.

On 7 April a member of the Ukrainian Helsinki Group, Vitaly Kalinichenko (CCE 48.2) was arrested for two weeks on a charge of ‘hooliganism’. His refusal to attend a meeting to discuss the Ukrainian SSR’s draft Constitution was used as grounds for his arrest.


On 14 April, on the instructions of E. Shcherbitsky, Senior Investigator of the Investigations Department of the Sverdlov district UVD, searches were carried out at the home and workplace of Julia Zaks, Andrei Tverdokhlebov’s sister, at the home of their mother S. Yu. Tverdokhlebova, and at the flat of the mother of Julia Zaks’s husband Alexander Shuster.

The searches were carried out in connection with case no. 47152, instituted under article 196 of the Russian Criminal Code (‘the forgery… of documents). According to investigator Shcherbitsky, who carried out the search of Zaks, the case was instituted because in a petition (from the institute where Zaks works) concerning the acceptance of her parents into a Housing Construction Cooperative the word ‘Dzerzhinsky’ (in the phrase ‘To the Executive Committee of the Dzerzhinsky District Soviet’) had been erased and the word ‘Sverdlov’ printed in its place.

File cards on 86 political prisoners in the Mordovian camps containing details of the articles they were sentenced under, the length of their sentences, biographical information and their family situations, were confiscated from Zaks. From A. Shuster were confiscated literary manuscripts and note-books. During the searches, issues of the Chronicle and Solzhenitsyn’s The Oak and the Calf were not confiscated.

Bagdarin settlement (Buryat SSR).

On 20 April, two months before the completion of his term of exile, A. A. Bolonkin was arrested (CCEs 30, 42, 44 to 46). He was charged under Article 92, part 2, of the Russian Criminal Code (“The stealing of state … property effected through … abuse of position at work”). Bolonkin worked in a repair workshop for ordinary people’s radio equipment. The essence of the charge: his earnings for work done in his spare time, according to contracts made with various organizations, are “stealing of State property through abuse of position at work”. (Although he did this work outside normal working hours, apparently the real point was that working in a State workshop he used state radio components, electricity, etc., Chronicle.) He was sued for 1,806 roubles.

On 21 April a search was conducted in his room. His correspondence was confiscated.

The investigation was carried out by local investigator A. A. Korenev and an investigator from Ulan-Ude, B. F. Alexandrov. The investigators are threatening Bolonkin with beatings, assaults and murder at the hands of criminals if he does not plead guilty. They are also shouting at witnesses, threatening and intimidating them.

From 1 to 6 May Bolonkin went on hunger-strike in protest against the way the case had been fabricated.

On 6 May he was brought in handcuffs by aeroplane to Ulan-Ude and placed in cell no. 74 of investigation prison 2/1.

A. A. Bargeyev, Procurator of Bauntovsky district and a Junior Counsellor of Justice, informed Bolonkin’s wife: ‘I inform you that your husband A. A. Bolonkin is under investigation in connection with the appropriation of state property. I am informing you of this at the request of the prisoner under investigation, A. A. Bolonkin.’

Lvov Region.

At the end of March a search was conducted at the home of Miroslav Gadvo (Butin village, Sokolsky district). Photocopies of a Russian translation from Italian of Tivoli’s book The Truth-Seeker’s Catechism, were confiscated. He was then interrogated several times by the KGB. The investigator tried to make M, Gadvo show that the confiscated photocopy belonged to his son Vasily Gadvo, a resident of Lvov. At the beginning of 1978 Vasily Gadvo was summoned to the KGB: he is suspected of preparing to become a Uniate priest.


In April taxi-driver Boris Melnik was summoned several times to the KGB because of ‘anti-Soviet conversations’ he had had with passengers.


The sections ‘In the Prisons and Camps’, ‘The Persecution of Crimean Tatars’, ‘Events in Lithuania’, ‘The Persecution of Believers’, and ‘Miscellaneous Reports’ (‘A Free Trade-Union’) contain further information on arrests, searches and interrogations.