In the Prisons and Camps (49.8)

<<No 49 : 14 May 1978>>

Vladimir Prison

On 19 March 1978, at the end of his 5-year sentence, Bagrat Shakhverdyan began serving a 2-year period of exile. On 20 April he was transferred to the village of Chulakkurgan (Suzaksky district, Chimkent Region) in the Kazakh SSR. His exile ends in January 1980. He is working as a watchman in a state-farm.

The song ‘Jerusalem’, which Shakhverdyan composed during his imprisonment, has been performed on Israeli radio.


In March Izrail Zalmanson was refused a visit. The reason given was a quarantine, although no quarantine had been announced in the prison. On 15 June I. Zalmanson is to be released.

Since May 1977 prisoners have been put in the punishment cells without a preliminary doctor’s check. Since 1 January 1978 writing materials have been sold only for ‘prison shop money’. (Earlier it was possible to buy them with money from personal accounts.)


The Mordovian Camps

Camp 1 (special regime)

Alexei Tikhy has begun a hunger-strike ‘to the death’ (i.e., with no time-limits, lasting until his demands are met). He demands the re-examination of his cases of 1957 (CCE 46) and 1977 (CCE 46) and an open trial to which foreign correspondents and lawyers would be admitted.

Alexei Tikhy, 1927-1984


Svyatoslav Karavansky has adopted the ‘statutes of a martyr’. He has refused to conduct correspondence and to receive packets or parcels, and also declines to talk to the administration. This was brought about by the deprivation of a visit, the deterioration in the quality of food, the lack of medical aid and the crude behaviour of the camp administration towards the political prisoners.


On 20 March Ivan Gel was to have a visit from his 70-year-old mother, his wife and his daughter. When they arrived they were told that he had been deprived of the visit and advised to go back home. Gel’s relatives refused to leave and declared that they would go on hunger-strike until he was allowed a visit. On the evening of 21 March he was allowed a visit of 24 hours. Gel’s wife did not agree to so short a visit. Section head Nekrasov then promised to extend the visit after it had started. Before the visit Gel’s relatives were searched for two hours. They were completely undressed. Four hours before the end of the 24 hours a search of I. Gel was carried out and the inner tube of a ball-point pen was found on him. The visit was cut short.

Gel had been deprived of the visit because he had not gone out to work. The day before he had had heart trouble, but despite his request a doctor had not come. Gel had been unable to go out to work.


In April Eduard Kuznetsov was offered the three-day visit which he did not receive in December (CCE 48). His mother and Bella Koval (CCE 48) travelled to visit him. Only his mother was allowed in to see him. The length of the visit was two days.


Camp 19

In April, after a 4-year imprisonment, Mikhail Kheifets was dispatched for a term of 2 years’ exile (CCEs 32, 34).


In March the quality of meals deteriorated severely. True, dairy products were introduced on to the list of products which can be sold on the ’camp stall’, but none are delivered to the stall.


On 22 December 1977 Mykola Rudenko had a meeting with his wife lasting three days. Soon after the meeting his poetry was again confiscated from him (CCE 48). He was transferred to more arduous work. Rudenko refused this work, which was beyond his strength, and declared a hunger-strike. After three days the poetry was returned to him.

On 20 January Rudenko was sent to the camp hospital for an examination (he has a spinal injury). On 10 February he was discharged after being designated a group 2 invalid. He was allocated work as an orderly.

In March and April his injury became troublesome again, and he again spent a month in hospital.


On 23 March 1978 Vladimir Osipov was sent to the tuberculosis section of the camp hospital (CCEs 47, 48).


Artyom Yuskevich was taken to Tallin and Saransk in March ‘for prophylactic talks’. He was then sent to Perm camp 37.


On 4 April the sister of Pyotr Sartakov, who is in camp 3, arrived from Siberia for a visit. Here she was told that he was in the punishment cells (CCE 48), so she could not see him. She tried to obtain permission to visit him in camp 19, where the punishment cells are, and in Yavas, which is the administrative centre of Institution ZhKh-385. In Yavas she talked to Spirin. He told her that her brother had refused to work and was carrying on anti-Soviet agitation and propaganda. This referred to Sartakov’s statements in personal letters and also to his declarations to the procurator.

G. K. Sartakova asked that her brother be released from the punishment cells, as he was a sick man and the work he was assigned was impossible for him; she also asked for a visit, if only of five minutes, as she was about to undergo a serious heart operation (she is an invalid of the second group) and this might be her last opportunity to see her brother. She was not allowed to visit him.


The Perm Camps

Vasily Lisovoi has been transferred from camp 36 to camp 35. At the same time, his co-defendant Yevgeny Pronyuk was transferred from camp 35 to camp 36.


Camp 35

At the beginning of March Yevgeny Sverstyuk was put in the punishment cells for 4 months.

Camp 36

In March there were about 60 prisoners left in camp 36.


Since October 1977, Zukauskas and Mattik have refused to correspond with anyone, because letters addressed to them have frequently been lost or delayed for long periods by the censors. The supervisory bodies to which they appealed partially acknowledged that the law had been broken and pointed this out to the administration, but the situation has remained practically unchanged,


As already reported (CCE 48), some prisoners are boycotting the deputy camp head responsible for security, Major Fyodorov. After a short respite Fyodorov has gone back to goading the prisoners.

On 1 March Fyodorov reported Kazachkov and Vulf Zalmanson for not greeting him. On 2 March Zalmanson again refused to greet Fyodorov. A few hours later, after being reported by Fyodorov, Zalmanson was deprived of a visit. That same evening Zalmanson, Gluzman, Kalynets and Mattik refused to have dealings with Fyodorov. A few days later, Zalmanson and Gluzman were punished because of a report by Fyodorov, by being made to shovel snow in an extra shift.


On 7 March Kazachkov was put in the cooler for 5 days after being reported by Fyodorov, Nikomarov and Rozhkov. Nikomarov twice said to Kazachkov, concerning the procurator’s replies about infringements of the period for censorship: That’s what the procurator told you, that the administration was breaking the law, but it’s got nothing to do with me.’ After this Kazachkov refused to talk to Nikomarov.

On 6 April Kazachkov was transferred to camp 35. There he was immediately informed that he was being put in the punishment cells for 3 months. The reason lay in a page from a letter to Carter (see below), which was confiscated from Kazachkov. Another reason was his refusal to talk to Second Lieutenant Nikomarov.

Mikhail Petrovich Kazachkov was born in 1944. In 1966 he graduated from the Physics Faculty at Leningrad University. He worked in the Joffe Institute of Physics Technology as a junior research officer. He was arrested on 20 November 1975. The investigation went on for 9 months. The investigator was V. N. Repchuk, deputy head of the Leningrad KGB Department of Investigation. Kazachkov was charged under article 64 (‘treason to the motherland’), article 88 (‘infringement of the currency regulations’), article 78 (‘contraband’) and article 154 (‘speculation’). He was the only defendant. Kazachkov was tried in the Leningrad city court. The prosecutor was Katukova, the judge was Isakova. He was sentenced to 15 years in strict-regime camps. See also CCE 43, which contains two inaccuracies about him.


On 16 March an assizes court decreed that Antanas Dziaugys, who had served 13 years of a 15-year sentence (CCE 46), should be ‘conditionally released and bound over to work’.

Such a ‘release’ of prisoners sentenced for ‘especially dangerous crimes against the state’ has become possible as a result of last year’s changes in the Criminal Code and the Corrective Labour Code (in February / March).


On 18 March [Alexander] Sergiyenko was deprived of parcels and access to the camp shop for refusing to go out to work.

In March Demidov was deprived of access to the camp shop for not fulfilling the work norm. The next day he was sent off on a prison convoy (see ‘Releases’).


On 21 and 23 March Kalju Mattik was interrogated by KGB Major Chernyak about the Chief Committee of the Estonian, Latvian and Lithuanian National Movements (i.e., in the case of V. Petkus, CCEs 47, 48). Chernyak’s questions concerned Erik Udam, Viktors Kalnins, Inc Calitis, Paulaitis, Balys Gajauskas and Sergei Soldatov. Mattik refused to answer the questions.


On 31 March a general search of the barracks and workshops was carried out in the camp zone, with soldiers guarding the buildings. Nothing of any significance was found.


The prisoner Dovganich (CCE 48) has been taken from the camp to Moscow for the trial of [Yury] Orlov.


Nikolai Slobodyan has suffered from a duodenal ulcer for over 10 years. Since January 1978 his condition has worsened. It seems that his ulcer has begun to haemorrhage again. Slobodyan already had such a haemorrhage in April 1977. In addition, he has infections of the ears and throat — tonsillitis, pharyngitis and double otitis. Both Slobodyan and the other prisoners have written declarations repeatedly, asking that he should be medically examined and hospitalized. Instead, Slobodyan is being punished for not fulfilling the work norm (CCE 48). On 10 March he was again put in the cooler. That same evening the prisoners went on hunger-strike. Abankin, Gluzman, Kalynets, Kovalyov, Zukauskas and Demidov went without food for four days. On 11 March they were joined by Kazachkov (who had just been released from the cooler). Sarkisyan, Mattik, Monastyrsky and Safronov fasted for two days, Popadichenko for one day. Zalmanson and Sergiyenko, who were in the cooler, refused to go out to work for a day.

On 13 March KGB Captain Chepkasov summoned Abankin, Sarkisyan, Zalmanson and Sergiyenko and threatened them with punitive measures. He declared that Slobodyan was quite well and that they were not going to give him medical treatment.

On 14 March the administration promised to summon medical specialists to examine Slobodyan. That evening the prisoners called off their hunger-strike.

On 16 March Slobodyan was examined as an outpatient by two doctors, who found no cause for a hospital examination or treatment.

On 20 March Slobodyan was given a sentence for not fulfilling the work norm. He wrote a declaration, asking to be hospitalized, to Zhuravkov, commandant of camp 36. Slobodyan insisted that doctor Vuzhakov had falsified a number of entries on his medical card and failed to record the results of some examinations.

On 23 March Slobodyan was again punished for not fulfilling the work norm. On the night of 28/29 March, Slobodyan’s condition took a sharp turn for the worse: he began to have violent pains in his stomach. On 29 March he was moved to the medical section.


From 1 February, as a result of the quarantine declared in camp 36 ‘because of an outbreak of influenza and respiratory infection’ (CCE 48), the prisoners were not allowed to have visits.

On 26 February Sergei Kovalyov appealed in a letter to Doctor Samoilova, who was in charge of the Chusovoi medical epidemic centre (with a copy to the USSR Ministry of Health). He wrote that the epidemiological conditions in both Kuchino and Moscow, where his relatives live, were now favourable, Kovalyov suggested that it would be enough to vaccinate the prisoners and their visitors as a precautionary measure, without cancelling visits.

On 13 March Kovalyov sent another declaration to the same addressees. He wrote that the quarantine had lasted for one and a half months and enquired if the World Health Organization had been informed of this epidemic; he also asked why Academician Zhdanov, the director of the Institute of Virus Research, had not mentioned this February /March epidemic in Perm Region in the article he had written for Literary Gazette. In conclusion Kovalyov asks:

“Is this selective epidemic now spreading, by any chance, to the town of Vladimir and certain districts of the Mordovian SSR? Do the quarantine measures apply only to places of detention or also to certain other institutions?”

On 30 March Kovalyov again sent declarations to the same addressees. He said he had received no reply to his first and second declarations.

“I regard your silence as quite an expressive reply. I am now far from believing, if I ever did, in any influenza epidemics or quarantine in the Chusovoi district.”

On the same day Kovalyov was read an answer dated 23 March from the Chusovoi Medical Epidemic Centre. He was told that the quarantine had been ended on 20 March and had been instituted on the basis of a document about the threat of an epidemic from the Perm Medical Epidemic Centre, which had been received on 14 December 1977. ‘This year, because of the big distances from the town of Chusovoi and the sparse population, the influenza reached its peak in February and March, so preventive measures were carried out at that time.’


At the end of March, [Irina Valitova, Sergei] Kovalyov’s wife received two telegrams, signed “Sergei”, which informed her that the quarantine had come to an end and that a visit was possible. It later turned out that Kovalyov, who had renounced all correspondence back in October 1977 (CCE 47), had not sent any telegrams.

When Kovalyov’s wife and son arrived at Kuchino on 7 April, they were informed by Zhuravkov that Kovalyov had been sent to camp 37 for the visit, as he, Zhuravkov, had been afraid the thaw would begin and his relatives would not be able to reach Kuchino. When asked how long the visit would be, Zhuravkov replied that it was now in the hands of the camp 37 authorities. On Saturday, 8 April, there was no one more senior than the duty-officer in camp 37. He gave Kovalyov only a 24-hour visit, referring to orders from Zhuravkov.

It later turned out that on 7 April the camp administration, after ringing up Moscow, had realized that the Kovalyovs were about to arrive; S. Kovalyov was sent from camp 36 to camp 37 a few minutes before they arrived in camp 36.

On 6 May Kovalyov was transferred to camp 37 and put in the punishment cells for six months. When his relatives asked the reason for his punishment, the reply from the Central Administration for Corrective Labour Institutions was: ‘Numerous infringements of the regime, deliberate failure to fulfil the work norm, disobedience to the orders of the administration. In 1976-1977 Kovalyov on average fulfilled only 85.6 per cent of the work norm.’


On 10 December 1977 E. Sarkisyan sent a letter of greeting to A. D. Sakharov. On 18 December he was told the letter had been confiscated (CCE 48). The next day, in a declaration addressed to the camp commandant, he asked for an explanation of what exactly in the letter had been considered ‘anti-Soviet fabrications and expressions’. On 28 December Chepkasov told Sarkisyan that there was nothing anti-Soviet in the letter and that it should be sent to the addressee.

On 5 January 1978 E. Sarkisyan sent the following declaration to S. N. Gusev, deputy Procurator-General of the USSR:

“… Today I am sending this same text to Academician A. D. Sakharov, without changing a single letter or punctuation mark. I ask you, citizen Procurator, to make sure it reaches the addressee, in accordance with the existing Soviet laws.”

On 15 February Chepkasov handed Sarkisyan two letters and a postcard from Switzerland and advised him to answer them. On 22 February Sarkisyan gave the censor an answering letter, but on 14 March he was summoned by Chepkasov, who expressed his dissatisfaction that Sarkisyan had not handed the reply to him. Chepkasov said the letters from Switzerland issued to Sarkisyan had not been authorized by anyone and asked him not to say anything about the letters to Rozhkov, the head of the administrative section. On 26 March Sarkisyan sent a declaration to the procurator of Perm region, describing this episode, pointing out the infringement of censorship time limits and thanking Chepkasov for giving him the letters,” ‘especially as neither he nor his colleagues ever before allowed themselves such a display of humanity, even civil courage.”

On 28 March Sarkisyan was informed that his letter to Switzerland had been confiscated because it was ‘tendentious’. On 30 March Sarkisyan wrote to the Inspection Commission of the Perm regional Soviet executive committee, stating that he had not included in his letter:

  • (a)          any secret information;
  • (b)          censorable or cynical expressions;
  • (c)           a distorted picture of internal or international life;
  • (d)          any libellous fabrications.

He noted that no such reason as a ‘tendentious letter’ was given as a reason for confiscation in a perusal of the relevant instructions issued by the USSR MVD and that without knowing precisely what was ‘tendentious’ in his phraseology, he could not change the text. The full text of Sarkisyan’s letter to Switzerland is given below.


In March Jonas Krivinskas (CCE 46) was released from the Mordovian camps at the end of a 15-year sentence.

In April, after a journey of 40 days on a prisoner transport to Ivano-Frankovsk, Dmitry Demidov (CCE 33), a prisoner from Perm Camp 36, was released at the end of a 5-year sentence.