Shcharansky, The Trial, July 1978 (50.4-3)

<<No. 50 : November 1978>>

To the Judge’s question as to whether he pleaded guilty Shcharansky replied: “I do not plead guilty. I consider the charge absurd.”

While the court was determining the procedure for the investigation of the evidence, the Procurator proposed that everything connected with the charge of espionage should be examined in a closed session. Shcharansky objected categorically to this: all the investigation materials he had been shown, and also the indictment which had already been read out, contained nothing that was secret information, and nothing he intended to say contained information which was not covered by the indictment. He added that the investigation had not been carried out in an objective manner and the numerous complaints to the Procurator from those questioned demonstrated this. He had himself spent one and a half years in an investigation prison and (thank God) he had at least now seen his brother at the court session. Yet now the most absurd part of the charge — espionage — was to be examined at a closed session. The judge announced that the court had decided on the closed session at a conference on administrative arrangements.

Anatoly SHCHARANSKY, b. 1948

Shcharansky’s testimony

Then the questioning of the accused began. Shcharansky’s testimony concerning the charges and his knowledge of the circumstantial details of the case lasted over an hour.

First of all, he warned that he could not give concrete evidence, either written or spoken, on every point contained in the charge. He had stated this several times during the investigation. He said he would reply to the charge as a whole. Nonetheless, he did not deny his part in the composition of the documents he was charged with, even when his involvement had consisted of discussion only. He added that he was prepared to clarify every point in the indictment if the court really were open, and if foreign correspondents, his family and friends were admitted.

Shcharansky said that the Soviet Union, having ratified the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights in 1973 and other human rights covenants, should have brought its own laws into conformity with these documents. This, however, had not been done, and many problems had arisen as a result. For example, there were still no laws dealing with emigration in a clear, precise manner — hence the arbitrary nature of decisions made in this area. At this point Shcharansky referred to the discussions between refuseniks and A. Ivanov, which took place in February and October 1976 (CCEs 40 and 43). (Ivanov had told refuseniks that there were not and never would be any special emigration laws.) Shcharansky noted that his petition that A. Ivanov be called as a witness had been rejected.

Shcharansky then spoke about the situation of those who hand in declarations stating that they wish to emigrate: in reality, they lose many of their rights and the authorities not uncommonly regard the desire to emigrate as an act of treachery performed under the influence of bourgeois propaganda. Shcharansky cited examples from the lives of certain refuseniks. He added that the very system of emigration 4by invitation only’ was a pernicious one and that it constituted a violation of human rights.

He asserted that the emigration problem was not imported but had arisen within the country itself; its causes were various: economic, religious, national, cultural and the desire of families to be reunited. Shcharansky considered one of the causes of the emigration of Jews to be anti-Semitism, “which developed as a result of Stalin’s policies regarding national groups”. He noted that a comparison of the text of Begun’s book Creeping Counter-Revolution, recently published in the USSR, and the well-known Protocols of the Elders of Zion” showed that they were very similar. (Shcharansky’s petition that these books be added to the case file had been rejected.) According to Shcharansky, the other reason for Jewish emigration was the absence of Jewish cultural centres in the Soviet Union. The Procurator asked who, in that case, was reading the books written by the 70 authors at present writing in Yiddish. Shcharansky advised him to consider the average age of these readers and commented that even in the Jewish Autonomous Region there was not a single Yiddish-speaking school, and that the teaching of Hebrew was in practice forbidden in the USSR. He could name around 20 people who wanted to teach Hebrew on an official basis.

In reply to the charge concerning Zionist organizations, Zionist emissaries, etc., Shcharansky gave a brief account of the history of Zionism. Summing up with the words: “Zionists are those people who want to live in Israel or who consider Israel to be their native land,” he said that in this sense he was himself a Zionist. Returning to the charge concerning Zionists, the accused noted that the Jewish Anti- Fascist Committee in the Soviet Union had appealed to Jewish organizations during the war and received millions of dollars from them. But the concern of these organizations about the situation of Soviet Jews was seen as interference in Soviet internal affairs and the refuseniks’ appeals to such organizations as subversive activity.

With regard to the charges concerning the Jackson-Vanik Amendment, Shcharansky said that it was proposed in 1972 before he had applied to emigrate and before he became involved in the Jewish Emigration Movement. He stated:

“The charge that the USSR was not offered more favourable trading terms on account of the refuseniks is absurd. It was not our fault that the Soviet Union, unlike Romania for example, could not reach a compromise solution. The authorities’ lack of desire to fulfil the international obligations they had assumed was responsible for the Amendment.”

Speaking on behalf of all refuseniks, Shcharansky asserted that in letters and appeals and at meetings with American politicians they had called for compromises. The investigation and the indictment had highlighted one side of the refuseniks’ appeals, because they did not wish to look at the other.

Briefly touching on the charges of espionage, Shcharansky said that the lists of refuseniks were already in existence before he became actively involved in the emigration problem. They contained nothing secret, and their composition had never been a matter of secrecy. Shcharansky said that it was stupid to call his meetings with foreigners conspiratorial. He recounted one particular meeting with senators and congressmen. It took place on the Americans’ initiative in the hall of the Rossiya Hotel. Numerous foreign correspondents were present. In answer to the Procurator’s question as to why Soviet journalists were not invited, Shcharansky said: “There are Soviet journalists sitting in this hall. You can ask them whether they would have accepted such an invitation.” He said that several attempts had been made to invite Soviet press officials and also correspondents on East European newspapers and the Western communist newspapers Unita and Humanite.

Moving on to the charge concerning the compilation of Helsinki Group documents, Shcharansky said that the main source of information was discussions with the people who figured in the documents.

Regarding document No. 9, the Procurator asked whether the accused himself had been on the Rossiya collective farm. Shcharansky answered that he had been detained several kilometres from the village of Ilynka, but, nonetheless, he had had meetings with collective-farm workers from the Rossiya and knew there were about 70 people there who intended to emigrate. Shcharansky remarked that the investigators had questioned four people who did not wish to leave the Soviet Union, but even from this questioning it was clear that there were would-be emigrants in the collective farm.

With regard to document No. 8 the Procurator said that it was unethical to raise the question of sick people in public, as it caused anxiety to the sick. He added that Shcharansky was not a doctor. In reply, Shcharansky quoted excerpts from the medical histories included by the investigators in his case, Plyushch “suffers from the mania of reformism, needs further treatment”; Sivak (CCE 43) “suffers from emigration mania”, and, at the end of the medical report: “No traces left of emigration mania. Suitable for discharge.”

On the subject of the Group’s documents concerning the prisons and camps, Shcharansky said that the information they contained was obtained from prisoners or their relatives. The accused added that he now had first-hand experience, because he had twice been put in a punishment cell during the investigation. The Procurator wanted to clarify whether Shcharansky had been fairly punished on these occasions. Anatoly replied: “It is a question of the conditions. As for the reasons for my being locked up, I can say something about that also –” The Judge interrupted Shcharansky at this point.

The Procurator then started a discussion with Shcharansky on the document “Lessons of the Trials of Malkin and Roitburd”. The argument was about whether or not refuseniks should be called up to serve in the army, and whether the desire to emigrate was not, at times, the reason for conscription. Shcharansky said that handing in documents for an exit visa was the reason why Malkin was expelled from an institute and this, in turn, led to his conscription.

Explaining the biographical details of the accused’s life took about an hour. A long argument began on Shcharansky’s domestic situation: according to the documents before the court he was a bachelor, although in 1974 he married Natalya Shtiglits (Avital Shcharansky) in accordance with the Judaic rite. Using Judaistic terminology, the j Judge and Procurator asked whether all the details of the Judaic wed} ding ritual were observed. On the Procurator’s request, the petition of Rabbi Fishman of the Moscow Synagogue to the Supreme Rabbinate in Israel, asking for an annulment of Shcharansky’s religious wedding, was filed. Shcharansky objected that in contemporary Judaism there were differing opinions on this question, and his marriage certificate had been signed by one of the leading authorities in this sphere — Manevich.

The Procurator also asked whether there had been any anti-Semitic discrimination against Shcharansky or members of his family. Shcharansky did not embark on an answer to this question.

11-12 July, Closed Session

In the closed sessions which took place on 11 July and the first half of 12 July the charge of espionage was examined. Twelve witnesses were questioned: Lipavsky, Tsypin, Ryabsky, Rukhadze, Raslin, Igolnikov, j Adamsky, Zakharov, Zapylayeva, Doronina, Smirnova and Panchenko.

The testimonies of Lipavsky and Tsypin corresponded to what was published in the newspaper Izvestiya on 5 March 1977 and 8 May 1977 (in the Moscow evening edition, 4 March and 7 May respectively) and in the newspaper Evening Moscow on 17 May 1977. These testimonies i formed the basis of the charge of espionage against Shcharansky.

The testimony of witness Ryabsky differed little in essence from that of Lipavsky and Tsypin. (Ryabsky is an acquaintance of Vitaly Rubin. All that is known about him is that he has renounced his intention of emigrating to Israel.)

The full details of Raslin’s testimony are not known. (Raslin is a former refusenik from Kiev who changed his mind about emigrating. He is the hero of articles published in Kiev similar to the article about Tsypin).

Pyotr Adamsky, a Vilnius refusenik, testified that he had brought a list of Vilnius refuseniks to Moscow. In Moscow he had been told that such lists would be sent abroad to demonstrate the fictitious nature of “refusals on security grounds” and to help the same refuseniks to emigrate.

The testimonies of Lipavsky, Tsypin, Ryabsky, Adamsky and Raslin contained information which went beyond the limits set by the charge of espionage and concerned all the points in the indictment. In view of this, Shcharansky petitioned that these witnesses be called to appear in an open session.

Nothing has been ascertained concerning the testimonies of Igolnikov and Rukhadze. (Igolnikov lives in Minsk, has many refusenik friends and was intending to emigrate. Rukhadze is a refusenik from Georgia.)

Zapylayeva testified that she had typed lists of refuseniks and that Lipavsky had brought her this work and collected it. He said that he was doing it on Shcharansky’s behalf. To Shcharansky’s question Zapylayeva replied that Anatoly had never asked for her help himself.

The witnesses Smirnova and Doronina own the flats in which Shcharansky held telephone conversations with Michael Sherbourne. One of them said that she was in the kitchen during these conversations. The other said that she remembered Shcharansky dictating surnames over the telephone but could not hear whether he dictated any other information.

The witness Panchenko, a friend of Lydia Voronina (CCE 44), who emigrated from the USSR in January 1977, testified about the papers confiscated from her during a search on 4 March 1977 CCCE 44). She had kept these papers without reading them, thinking that they belonged to Lydia Voronina.

Many of the questions put by Shcharansky to the witnesses were overruled by the Judge. All these witnesses appeared on 11 July.

In addition, the testimonies of R. Toth and V. Petukhov were heard in the closed session. The above-mentioned letter of Vitaly Rubin and the questionnaire and lists enumerated in the indictment, along with Shcharansky’s notebooks, were examined as material evidence. The notebooks were found to contain the surnames and addresses of 15 refuseniks whose names appeared on the list. The court considered this to be proof that Shcharansky had compiled the lists. There was no stamp of “secret” on any of the documents filed in the case materials or put before the court. Not a single list was read out.

In addition, the court reviewed certain official documents concerning visits to the USSR by foreigners with whom Shcharansky allegedly maintained criminal connections and concerning the connections of these foreigners with intelligence services.

An experts’ report on the lists states that the facts they contain “are, taken together, state secrets and, as a whole, constitute a state secret of the Soviet Union”. With regard to the questionnaire the report states that, if certain parts of it were completed, secret information might be revealed.

12 July 1978, Open Session

On 12 July Sukhacheva, Yemelyanova, Platonov, Gaskova, Abramov, Susikhina and Shcherbakov appeared as witnesses in an open session. In response to a petition by Shcharansky, Lipavsky, Ryabsky and

Tsypin also appeared. It was said that Raslin and Adamsky had already left Moscow.

Shcharansky’s colleague Shcherbakov spoke about his behaviour at work: before he applied to emigrate he worked well, but afterwards his work deteriorated. Irina Susikhina, a neighbour of L. Voronina, testified that Shcharansky had lived in Voronina’s flat and that Robert Toth had visited the flat several times. Once she saw Shcharansky handing Toth a text of some 30 or 40 pages. She did not know what it contained. Of Shcharansky she said that he was a well-disciplined and educated man. On the Judge’s insistence, Susikhina confirmed the testimony she had given at the pre-trial investigation that Shcharansky was in the habit of leaving unwashed plates in the kitchen.

L. Sukhacheva, a doctor at Vladimir Prison, stated, as she had done before at Orlov’s trial, that the medical facilities in the prison were satisfactory and she cited the example of prisoner Fedorenko (CCEs 38, 39, 43 and 44), who was being treated for gastritis. (Document No. 17 stated that Fedorenko had lost a lot of weight and showed symptoms of paralysis.)

Yemelyanova, a doctor working in the Mordovian camps, asserted that the temperature in the punishment cells there was 18-24° Centigrade. (She also appeared as a witness at Orlov’s trial.)

Vyacheslav Platonov recounted events connected with the hunger-strike of Ginzburg and his friends in camp in 1969: how information on the hunger-strike and other events was gathered and how Yury Ivanov painted portraits of camp-prisoners. His testimony was of interest to the investigators of Ginzburg’s case (CCEs 46 and 47). Platonov himself stated that he could not understand what his role in the present trial was, since he was not acquainted with Shcharansky. In reply to a question about medical facilities and food in the camp he said: “OK, bearable,” Replying to the Judge’s question as to whether his punishment was justified, he said: “Yes, but the sentence could have been shorter.”

Most of the time was taken up with questions about Shcharansky’s work as a Jewish activist.

Abramov, the Deputy Personnel Manager of a canning factory in Derbent [Dagestan ASSR, North Caucasus], related speeches he had made discrediting Zionists. He stressed that he had written them himself. Evidently, Abramov’s testimony (he is a mountain Jew, or a Tat) were meant to be evidence of the defamatory character of a letter in which refuseniks wrote that the speeches at the Derbent meeting were prepared in advance. Answering the Judge’s question as to what he knew about Jewish culture, he said that before the war there were Jewish schools, but because nobody wanted to study in them, they no longer existed. He himself had no need for the Tat language.

S. E. Gaskova, the daughter of Colonel Davidovich, was summoned to appear in court. She now lives in Minsk, having returned from an unsuccessful emigration to Israel. During the questioning Gaskova remained silent and wept practically the whole time. The Judge therefore read out the testimony she had given during the pre-trial investigation, in which she spoke of the poor quality of life in Israel, about how such “Zionist emissaries” as Polyachek, Ovsishcher, Lipavsky, Rubin, Zaitsev and Ratner had seen her family off when they emigrated. The Procurator asked Gaskova about the collective letter in memory of Davidovich (CCE 40). (Shcharansky was charged under Article 70 in connection with this letter.)

Procurator: Shcharansky and others state that “the Soviet authorities are responsible for Davidovich’s death.” (The letter states: “murdered by KGB organs” — Chronicle.)

Gaskova: That is their personal opinion.

Seeing the state Gaskova was in, Shcharansky told her: “If you do not wish to answer, I will not ask you any questions.”

Gaskova agreed to answer him, but some of the questions he asked were overruled by the Judge and the rest she did not answer.

Shcharansky said the letter contained the views of Davidovich’s friends and had not therefore been discussed in advance with his relatives.

The testimonies of Ryabsky, Tsypin and Lipavsky were similar in style to the indictment and the Procurator’s speech.

Ryabsky: Shcharansky’s activities have led to a distortion of the Soviet Union’s emigration policies. Shcharansky was responsible for contacts with foreigners. At first, he acted as an interpreter. Later he became the organizer of various nationalistic get-togethers, whose aim it was to discredit the USSR’s emigration policy … Jewish activists appropriated funds allocated by Zionist organizations for all refuseniks.

Tsypin: Shcharansky’s activities were on many different levels. He wrote many letters, collected signatures to appeals concerning the Jackson Amendment and drafted a letter stating that Jews were happy with this amendment. When he met the senators, he insisted on a tougher line and was displeased with the outcome of the meeting.

Tsypin related that Shcharansky composed the letter about Malkin and Roitburd. Shcharansky intended to put the leaders of the Italian and French communist parties “in a difficult position” at the 25th CPSU Congress, i.e., he wanted to hand correspondents the letters addressed by refuseniks to the leaders of these communist parties.

Tsypin said that Shcharansky’s conspiratorial meetings took place in a cafe on Kutuzov Avenue. He mentioned that Shcharansky was acquainted with Natanson, Levitsky and Krimsky. He said that many refuseniks had sought Shcharansky’s help and had frequently looked for him at the synagogue. According to Tsypin, Shcharansky and several of his friends intended to found an organization called “Sherut Aliya”, which would have a presidium and a secretariat. Tsypin said that Shcharansky was a link connecting the emigration movement with the “Sakharov group”, for whom Shcharansky had interpreted. He testified that Shcharansky had read “provocative books written in English” and also [Solzhenitsyn’s] Lenin in Zurich and that he used The Gulag Archipelago as a textbook. The accused had given the witness books by G. Meany, a “malicious anti-Sovietist”, to read and asked him to arrange for books to come in by diplomatic mail.

Lipavsky: Shcharansky suggested an operation involving the letter to the Italian and French communist parties. On advice from the West, he knocked together a letter from refuseniks concerning the planned closure of the Jewish organization HIAS [Hebrew Immigration Advisory Service]. (According to Lipavsky, HIAS owed its continued existence to this letter.) Lipavsky said that without the letter about Malkin and Roitburd there would have been nothing to back up the appeal to the candidates for the U S presidency.

Lipavsky spoke at length about the shooting of the film “A Calculated Risk”. According to him, Shcharansky had been its director and commentator, and had also played the leading role. Shcharansky had travelled around Moscow with the camera crew and pointed out where the demonstrations of militant groups had taken place. When the film was completed Shcharansky became a film star and received invitations to take part in the shooting of other such films. In reply to a question from Shcharansky Lipavsky said that all this information was second-hand.

Lipavsky also talked at length about the trip to the Rossiya collective farm. He had taken Slepak and Shcharansky in his car, to deliver to some collective-farm workers invitations which had been urgently prepared for them in the American Embassy. On arriving at Ilynka their car was detained and searched and all the papers were confiscated.

Lipavsky asserted that Presel and Levitsky, Secretaries at the American Embassy, were CIA Agents. Shcharansky was friendly with both of them.

The three witnesses all made their testimony very colourful:

Ryabsky: Rubin and Shcharansky were a Trojan horse to stir up anti- Soviet feelings in the West.

Tsypin: Shcharansky rated much praise from correspondents who dislike our system.

Lipavsky: I am coming to the conclusion that the main purpose of Shcharansky’s activities was to alter the existing order in the Soviet Union. Anatoly Borisovich, surely with your analytical brain and your memory for dates and figures, you cannot have forgotten that our enemies have several times made such attempts. All to no avail. Did you really imagine that you would be allowed to raise your hand against the Soviet State?

Lipavsky addressed the accused several times with rhetorical questions, but on one occasion he succeeded in asking the Judge a question: 4 As a Helsinki Group member Shcharansky spoke a good deal about separated families. To whom is he intending to go himself?”

Judge: He asserts that he will go to his wife.

Lipavsky (hands apart in mock incredulity): What wife? He doesn’t have a wife!

During questioning, these witnesses handled facts, figures and dates loosely,

Ryabsky: Pipes advised founding the Helsinki Group.

Shcharansky: But the Helsinki Agreement was signed only two months after Pipes’s visit.

Shcharansky (to Tsypin): Have you ever had occasion to be present in the cafe at a conspiratorial meeting with foreign correspondents? Tsypin: Me — no. But I have heard people talk about such meetings. Shcharansky (to Lipavsky): I must, nonetheless, return to facts and figures. On 12 March 1977 you asserted in your testimony that Congressman Brooke, who had just arrived in Moscow, brought refuseniks a draft letter from Jackson. With regard to this I ask. were you present at this meeting with Brooke?

Lipavsky: No, I was not.

Shcharansky: Why did you state at the pre-trial investigation that you were at the meeting?

This question, and many others put by Shcharansky, were not answered by these three witnesses.

On 12 July, as the questioning of the witnesses continued, the situation became more and more tense. The Judge frequently interrupted Shcharansky and stopped him from asking certain questions. At the same time, he encouraged Ryabsky, Tsypin and Lipavsky. When they faltered, he helped them along with questions. The audience, who on the first day had been silent, began to liven up and the courtroom started to resound with their laughter and retorts.

At the end of the court session the Judge informed the court that Shcharansky’s mother had been called to appear as a witness but had not yet arrived. He asked the accused’s brother, who was in the court, to explain her absence. Leonid Shcharansky replied that their mother had written several letters to the RSFSR Supreme Court and to the present assizes sitting, justifying her refusal to appear as a witness in the trial. He added that there were free places in the hall and that his mother’s place was in the hall — not outside on the street. The Judge sent some officials out into the side-street to fetch the accused’s mother. On being invited to testify, Shcharansky’s mother said that she would agree to do so only if Anatoly himself requested it. Otherwise, she would continue to refuse to be a witness and would demand admittance to the hall to attend the trial. When an official reported l. P. Milgrom’s refusal to appear as a witness, the Judge said that by law it was possible to compel her to appear, but this measure would not be implemented in this instance as she was the mother of the accused and an elderly woman.

13 July

On the morning of 13 July, the court began the examination of the material evidence.

First a number of materials serving as evidence of espionage were examined: the questionnaire for refuseniks with Shcharansky’s note on the back, Rubin’s “instructional” letter to Shcharansky (neither document was read out), Lipavsky’s testimony concerning his (Lipavsky’s) connections with the CIA, and a statement of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to the U S Embassy concerning the detention of R. Toth after his meeting with Petukhov. Lipavsky’s statement was read out, along with a list of Shcharansky’s belongings which Lipavsky had handed over to the KGB. These belongings were taken from the flat which Shcharansky and Lipavsky had rented together (CCE 44). Shcharansky stated that the first time he had seen this questionnaire was during the pre-trial investigation and that at this time he had submitted several petitions to be allowed a confrontation with Petukhov. This had not, however, been allowed.

The court then reviewed the collective documents of the refuseniks with which Shcharansky was charged under Articles 64 and 70 (not a single document was read out). Shcharansky rejected the assertion that the letter of 12 January 1976 (about the Amendment) was composed on Senator Jackson’s instructions.

With regard to the statement by Jewish activists about the television film “Purveyors of Souls”, Shcharansky noted that letters sent to Soviet television in reaction to the film had also been included in the case materials. These letters were of an anti-Semitic character, and the statement with which he was charged said that the film was arousing hatred towards Jews.

After this the English television films “A Calculated Risk” and “The Man Who Went Too Far” were shown. This showing of the films was accompanied by a simultaneous translation. Shcharansky remarked that the translator was racing ahead of the text of the film and that there were many inaccuracies in his translation. In reply to the Judge’s question as to whether or not he knew that the film *A Calculated Risk” would be shown in the West, Shcharansky said that he had given British television a normal interview for unlimited use. The Procurator asked why Shcharansky spoke of a figure of 10,000 in connection with the number of Germans who had emigrated from the USSR. Shcharansky replied that official sources on German emigration put the figure at 20,000. He added that he had petitioned that these information sources be filed but had been refused. In answer to the Procurator’s question: “Where did Shcharansky obtain his information on the bad position of Germans in Central Asia?”, Shcharansky said that he was not referring to this; the question arose from an inaccurate translation of the soundtrack: the text of the commentary had been ascribed to him.

The Procurator then petitioned for the Davidovich’s’ letters from Israel to be filed. Further, he asked for a report from the Foreign Parcels Trading Organization on the number of money transfers which had arrived for Shcharansky to be produced as material evidence. (All the transfers relate to the period from the end of 1973 to the beginning of 1974; they were sent from England and Switzerland, and their total value was about 500 foreign currency roubles. The report gave the value in foreign currency and gave no indication of customs duty.) The Procurator then asked for the carbon paper taken by Lipavsky from his and Shcharansky’s apartment and given to the investigators to be filed, A forensic examination had shown that it bore the imprints of part of the lists found in the courtyard of the house where R. Toth lived. Shcharansky stated that the first time he saw this list and the carbon paper was during the investigation. The court agreed to all the Procurator’s petitions.

On 13 July at 2.30 pm the summing-up by each side commenced. Procurator Solon in spoke for about three hours. His summary of the indictment was accompanied by comments in the spirit of press articles about the ideological struggle and human rights. To the public’s applause and cries of “Quite right!” Solonin declared that the prosecution considered Shcharansky guilty. His guilt flowed from all the factual evidence examined in the court sessions. Furthermore, Shcharansky’s attitudes were subjective and hostile, a fact to which Tsypin, Lipavsky and Ryabsky were witnesses. This was also demonstrated by his persistent contact with correspondents and diplomats hostile to the Soviet Union. The Procurator remarked that Shcharansky had been called to account not for his opinions, but for breaking the law. He said that Shcharansky had been given patient explanations of the criminal nature of his actions, but it had been no use. The Procurator stated: “The prosecution finds premeditation and the presence of intent to undermine the military power of the USSR absolutely clear in Shcharansky’s actions.” Because Shcharansky had not repented, the Procurator considered it just to impose on him the “most severe penalty*; but taking into account extenuating circumstances — his age and the fact that it was his first conviction — he suggested 15 years* imprisonment in strict-regime camps with the first 3 years to be served in prison.

Closing Statement for the Defence

Shcharansky began his defence speech thus:

“I am fully aware of the fact that it is an utterly hopeless task to defend myself in this semi-open court with its specially-selected audience. All the more so when you consider that I was accused in the official press — the newspaper Izvestiya — one and a half years before the trial, ten days before my arrest and even a week before a case against me was opened. My social activities were transformed into class ones, and my open activities as a supplier of information were turned into treason and espionage, I have no doubt that the court will support the Procurator’s demand.”

Remarking that human life does not consist solely of the existence of various economic systems in the modern world, Shcharansky took up the theme of the national rebirth of the Jewish people. In its time the Dreyfus affair had spurred the emergence of the Zionist movement, while the events lived through by Soviet Jews from 1948 to 1952, especially the “doctor’s plot”, had led to the appearance among them of people wanting to emigrate to Israel. In the 50s, such people landed up in the prisons and camps, but in the 60s the Jewish emigration movement was reborn. Shcharansky considers the emigration of Jews from the USSR to be a natural phenomenon and connects it with the emergence of a national self-awareness among Soviet Jews, Shcharansky stated that the Jewish emigration movement was the basis on which all his activities were founded.

Shcharansky then repeated that he was not going to conduct a defence on each individual episode but would touch on only a few in order to show how his case had been distorted.

Speaking of the Senator Brooke episode, Shcharansky pointed out that the charge was based entirely on Lipavsky’s testimony, which was particularly inconsistent at this point. Apart from the lack of chronological coordination in Lipavsky’s testimony, it was vital to remember that Brooke was a Republican and could not therefore have been helping the pre-election campaign of Jackson, who was a Democrat. A single two-hour meeting between Brooke and the refuseniks had taken place; Lipavsky was not present at this meeting and his testimony on this point was false.

By comparing dates, Shcharansky demonstrated the falsity of Ryabsky’s testimony with regard to the meeting with Richard Pipes, Shcharansky said that he had met Pipes and discussed his history book with him, but the details contained in the charge concerning this meeting had been invented by Ryabsky.

At the closed court session Lipavsky had testified that Shcharansky and Rubin had allegedly tried to persuade Miles, a diplomat with whom they were acquainted, to use his connections to stop grain supplies to the USSR. Shcharansky emphasized in particular that his position in this matter was the exact opposite: “I considered, and still consider, that the position which Lipavsky attributes to me is anti-humane.”

Shcharansky pointed out that all Lipavsky’s information was culled from other people’s accounts: “Most sinister of all is Lipavsky’s role in the testimony relating to espionage. This part of his testimony was given in a closed court session.” Shcharansky said that the material “clues” — the carbon paper handed in by Lipavsky, the fragment of a list found by the caretaker Zakharov, and the questionnaire with a note from Rubin’s wife — contained nothing written in his own hand, and that the first time he saw them was during the investigation. Then Shcharansky stated that despite Lipavsky suggesting several times that he seek the assistance of the typist Zapylayeva, he had never given her any material for retyping, neither personally, nor via Lipavsky, nor in his presence.

With regard to Robert Toth’s article “Soviet Union Indirectly Reveals Centres of Secret Work”, Shcharansky said that it was about those refuseniks who personally communicated information on themselves for open use in the West. Concerning R, Toth’s testimony at the pretrial investigation, Shcharansky said that there were many discrepancies between the Russian and the English texts. He pointed this out several times during the investigation. Even the translator had agreed with him. More than a month had been needed to correct the Russian text. Nevertheless, the old, distorted text had been used in the indictment.

Shcharansky expressed his certainty that all these facts concealed a single purpose: to compromise him by a charge of espionage and to place him outside the law.

Moving on to the charges under Article 70, Shcharansky said: “I consider it immoral to institute criminal proceedings against someone for defending another person.” After repeating all he had said at the beginning of the trial about the Helsinki Group documents, Shcharansky added: “I want to say that I am personally acquainted with Pentecostal believers. They are honest, open people. They want to carry on living in their communities, living as their religious outlook directs them.” Shcharansky stressed that his activities were open and in no way did he disown them. He considered all the documents he had compiled to be correct and not in the least libellous.

Concluding his defence speech, Shcharansky again stated that he considered himself innocent and the charges against him tendentious and absurd.


On 14 July Shcharansky made his final speech:

“During questioning from March to April 1977 the chief investigators warned me that because of the position I was maintaining under investigation — the same position I have kept to at this trial — I was threatened with the death penalty or a minimum of 15 years’ imprisonment. They told me that if I agreed to cooperate with the security organs in their task of destroying the Jewish emigration movement I would be given only a short sentence, would be quickly released and could even have a meeting with my wife.

“Five years ago, I handed in an application to emigrate to Israel. Now I am further than ever from my dream. One might think that I ought to regret what has happened, but not at all — I am glad.

“I am glad that I have lived honestly, at peace with my conscience, and have not acted against it, even when threatened with death. I am glad that I have helped people. I am glad that I have come to know, and have worked with, such honest and brave people as Sakharov, Orlov and Ginzburg — people who are carrying on the traditions of the Russian intelligentsia. I am glad that I am a witness to the rebirth of the Jews of the USSR. I hope that the absurd charges against me and the whole Jewish emigration movement will not hinder the liberation of my people.

“My family and friends know that I wanted to exchange my work as an emigration activist for life in Israel with my wife.

“My people have been scattered for more than 2,000 years, but wherever Jews have wandered they have always repeated the words: ‘Next year in Jerusalem!’ Now that I am further than ever from my people and from my Avital, and many hard years in prison stretch ahead of me, I say to my people and to my Avital: ‘Next year in Jerusalem!’

“To the court, which can but confirm the sentence proposed earlier, I have nothing to say.”


The court was in conference for over four hours. The verdict virtually repeated the indictment word for word. The reading of the verdict took about two hours.

The court sentenced Shcharansky to 13 years’ imprisonment, the first 3 years to be served in prison and the remainder in strict-regime camps. As well as the tape-recorder, calculator, camera lens and two typewriters belonging to Shcharansky, three further typewriters taken during searches on 4 March from other refuseniks were also confiscated.

The courtroom received the sentence with applause and cries of *He ought to be hanged!”


During the trial Shcharansky’s mother made several appeals each day to the commandant and other officials to be admitted to the hall. They either did not answer her or promised to pass on her request to the members of the court. Neither was she allowed in during the reading of the verdict. At several points during the trial, she sent telegrams to the assizes sitting, which was hearing Shcharansky’s case, and to the Supreme Court of the RSFSR and the Supreme Soviet of the USSR, requesting them to intervene and allow her the chance to attend the trial.

Every day relatives and friends of the accused gathered outside the court-building. They were not allowed to come close. A place was allotted them in an unfrequented side street.

While the case was being heard the authorities took extreme precautionary measures. The side-street which the court-building overlooked was cordoned off at both ends by policemen and vigilantes. The side-street perpendicular to it was also cordoned off. All approaches to the court from yards or side-streets were barricaded with iron fences or wire netting. Standing in large numbers on the court side of these barricades were special operations men. Within a radius covering several blocks every courtyard was patrolled by special operations cars and agents. At the very least there were at any one time 300 operations men in the vicinity. Several large buses would bring the police guard. On the day the verdict was read a further bus full of vigilantes appeared in the side-street, but the occupants did not get out.

The court-building was thoroughly protected: about 50 policemen patrolled it outside, and in the courtroom, apart from the guards, there were several dozen operations men. On his way to the courtroom Leonid Shcharansky would be stopped several times by guards for his passport to be checked. At the entrance he was checked by a portable instrument which reacted to metal objects, and then had his clothing frisked. Several times guards came up to Leonid with this instrument right inside the courtroom.

Nothing of the sort happened either in October 1968, when the “demonstrators” were tried in this building (CCE 4), or in June 1978 during the trial of I. Begun (see current issue).

The accused himself was guarded no less vigilantly — either the Chief or the Deputy Chief of Lefortovo Prison was continuously in the court-building. Shcharansky was brought and taken away in a special car with a siren and a flashing light. When it arrived or left the court-building, without fail the siren was turned on, to prevent Anatoly hearing his friends’ greetings. In the side-street where Shcharansky’s friends were standing the operations men behaved correctly. There were hardly any “ordinary people”; their few “representatives* keeping silent on the whole. Even on the day the verdict was given, when more than 100 people gathered outside the court, the side-street was relatively quiet. The operations men paid special attention to people who did not look Jewish and whose faces were not yet familiar from other trials. These people were occasionally detained, their documents checked, and at times their bags and briefcases also. They were told their workplaces would be contacted. The operations men also detained several chance passers-by, and with them they did not try to be especially polite.

Numerous journalists and diplomats requesting the authorities’ permission to attend the trial. They were not allowed to do so and had to stand outside on the street with the Soviet citizens. During the trial, however, a press-centre was at their disposal, putting out information twice daily on the court sessions. Only procedural points, the general section of the indictment and the Procurator’s speech were adequately covered in these bulletins.


In August 1978 Anatoly Shcharansky arrived at Vladimir Prison.


The Trial of Shcharansky (introduction)

The indictment (50.8-2)