Shcharansky, The Indictment, July 1978 (50.4-2)

<<No. 50 : November 1978>>

The Trial of Shcharansky, 10-14 July 1978 (50.4)

Shcharansky was charged with “espionage” and “helping a foreign government to carry out hostile activities against the USSR”, under Article 64 of the RSFSR Criminal Code.

Anatoly SHCHARANSKY, b. 1948

“Espionage” is detailed in the indictment in the following way:

Shcharansky collected and sent to the West information about 1,300 people in possession of military and other Soviet state secrets. This information consisted of details about the location, bureaucratic subordination and security rating of 200 enterprises in various towns in the Soviet Union, and details about the leading officials of these enterprises. The text of the indictment indicates that the information comprised a list of people who had been refused exit visas from the USSR in the interests of state security. The indictment asserts that right up to his arrest Shcharansky was building up, arranging and preserving these lists, and, through various channels and by conspiratorial methods transmitting them to the West.

According to the indictment, in November 1976 Shcharansky gave such lists to “agent of American military intelligence” Robert Toth (CCE 46.5, pdf pp. 26-28), who worked in Moscow “in the guise of a journalist”. Toth used them against the interests of the USSR, an example of this being his article “Soviet Union Indirectly Reveals Centres of Secret Work”, which was published in several American newspapers.

Shcharansky, it is claimed, did all this on the orders of foreign intelligence services. He received his assignment in a letter, sent through the diplomatic mail by Vitaly Rubin, who emigrated from the USSR in June 1976 (CCE 41.8). According to the indictment, Rubin had long been a CIA agent. Shcharansky also received, again through the diplomatic post, a certain questionnaire containing questions of an information-gathering nature. On the reverse side there was a letter addressed to Shcharansky. According to a handwriting expert this text was written by Rubin’s wife Inessa Axelrod.

The indictment also says that Shcharansky helped R. Toth to establish conspiratorial contacts with scientists and specialists who were party to secret information. By arranging confidential meetings with these people, Shcharansky helped Toth to collect secret information. In this way R. Toth received information not authorized for publication in the press concerning parapsychology and cosmic and sociological research. At Toth’s request Shcharansky questioned a Soviet specialist about the development of genetics in the USSR and the prospects of this science, and about the institutions working on problems of genetics.

Witnesses and material evidence

At this point in the indictment testimony given during the pre-trial investigation is referred to. The following witnesses are mentioned: Lipavsky, Tsypin, Ryabsky, Adamsky, Raslin, Rukhadze, Igolnikov, Zapylayeva, Panchenko, Doronina, Smirnova, Petukhov, Toth, Popova (Toth’s Moscow secretary) and Zakharov, janitor of the apartment house where Toth lived.

Material evidence took the form of: lists of people refused exit visas, presented by Zapylayeva; a list of refuseniks taken from Tatyana Panchenko’s flat (CCE 44.9); part of a photocopied list of refuseniks found by janitor Zakharov in Toth’s dustbin; a questionnaire for collecting information from refuseniks, with a letter to Shcharansky on the back, which was confiscated at the end of 1976 during a search at the home of a Moscow refusenik; and a letter from Rubin to Shcharansky which reached Moscow via the American Embassy’s diplomatic bag and was given to the KGB by Lipavsky.

“Helping a foreign government to carry out actions hostile to the USSR is described in the indictment in the following manner:

Shcharansky systematically fabricated and sent abroad material which deliberately distorted the reality of life in the USSR. Having established illegal contacts with foreigners living in the USSR, including some who did not conceal their links with intelligence agencies, and also with Zionist emissaries who came to the USSR in the guise of official representatives, religious activists or tourists, Shcharansky, on his own initiative and on the orders of these people, supplied them with such material. The material consisted of fabrications about Soviet emigration policy, about the violation of the civil rights of those who applied to emigrate from the USSR, about discrimination against Jews, and about an alleged increase in anti-Semitism in the USSR. The material was used extensively by reactionary circles in the West for purposes hostile to the USSR, as Shcharansky knew.

Shcharansky appealed to the governments of various countries to use concern over human rights as a pretext for exerting continuous pressure on the Soviet Union, urging it to change its internal and external policies.

It is asserted in the indictment that Shcharansky was the author or joint compiler of letters and telegrams, and also analyses, which discredited Soviet emigration policy, that he organized nationalistic gatherings for this same purpose, and collected signatures for appeals about the Jackson-Vanik Amendment. These activities led to the U S Congress accepting the aforementioned amendment and USSR-USA trade negotiations were hampered. The Soviet Union was not given Most Favoured Nation status in trade, and this affected the country’s economic situation.

Shcharansky is charged in connection with the following incidents.

In 1974-1976 he personally prepared and sent to the West no fewer than 17 documents of a slanderous nature. These were:

  • a telegram to Senators Jackson, Javits and Ribicoff, sent in connection with the adoption of the amendment (1974);
  • greetings on the occasion of the bicentenary of the USA (1976);
  • a letter to U S presidential candidates Jimmy Carter and Gerald Ford (1976);
  • congratulations to J. Carter on his election to the Presidency (1976);
  • a letter regarding the Jackson-Vanik Amendment (12 January 1976);
  • an appeal to the American people and the Congress;
  • collective letters by refuseniks entitled “We Turn to You . , and “Dear Brothers” (1975);
  • the documents “Emigration of Jews” and The Emigration Policy of the USSR”, sent at the beginning of 1976 to the Zionist Congress in Brussels;
  • the document “Lessons of the Trials of Roitburd and Malkin” (17 September 1975);
  • and four reviews of the situation regarding Jewish emigration in various towns of the Soviet Union, covering the years 1974 to 1976.

In addition, Shcharansky took part in conspiratorial meetings of Jewish activists with American senators and congressmen who came on an official visit to Moscow in 1975. He made a speech to them, in which he called for a severe and uncompromising policy with regard to trade with the Soviet Union and gave them a letter from refuseniks asking them to demand from the USSR a change in its emigration policy.

On 4 June 1975, in the lobby of the Sovetskaya Hotel, Shcharansky had a secret, conspiratorial meeting with the American scholar Richard Pipes [1923-2018]. Pipes, who was a link between the refuseniks and American Zionists and diplomats, gave Shcharansky instructions regarding Zionist activities. He approved of Shcharansky’s speech to the senators and said that they had gained an advantage through meeting Jewish activists before their official engagements. Then Pipes gave Shcharansky instructions on the formation of the Helsinki Group.

Shcharansky is also charged with meeting the American Senator Brooke: in February 1976 Shcharansky brought Brooke to Vladimir Slepak’s apartment, where Slepak, Shcharansky and a few other Jewish activists signed a letter to Jackson on the subject of the Amendment (letter dated 12 January 1976). This letter had been prepared earlier by Jackson himself and sent to Moscow with Brooke. It was intended to help Senator Jackson, who was running as a presidential candidate, in the primary elections of the Democratic Party.

“conspiratorial association”

At this point in the indictment Shcharansky is charged with having a conspiratorial association with American journalists and diplomats of anti-Soviet inclination: M. Levitsky, J. Presel, A. Natanson, P. Osnos, G. Krimsky, A. Friendly and Robert Toth. The indictment asserts that all the above-named were involved with secret services and gave Shcharansky instructions concerning hostile activities.

The indictment now mentions Shcharansky’s contacts with representatives of foreign Jewish communities and Zionist organizations, and also his telephone conversations with the well-known Zionist activist in Britain, Michael Sherbourne. It is stated that representatives of Zionist organizations gave Shcharansky instructions to carry out hostile activities in the Soviet Union.

Shcharansky is charged with organizing a press conference following a meeting of Jewish activists with Albert Ivanov, Deputy Head of the CPSU Central Committee Department of Administrative Bodies (CCE 40), in February 1976. He is also charged with organizing two other press conferences: one following an incident in which Jews were beaten up after they visited the reception rooms of the Supreme Soviet Presidium on 19 October 1976, and the other after Shchelokov, the USSR Minister of Internal Affairs, had received chosen representatives of the refuseniks in connection with the aforementioned incident, on 21 October 1976 (CCE 43).

Evidence to support this section of the indictment is provided by the testimony given by Lipavsky, Tsypin, Ryabsky, Raslin and Adamsky during the pre-trial investigation. The documents already mentioned above serve as material evidence.

Under Article 70 of the RSFSR Criminal Code Shcharansky is charged with preparing and sending abroad materials which deliberately defame the Soviet political and social system. The indictment says that these materials were used by reactionary circles to wreck important Soviet foreign policy undertakings and to put pressure on the USSR regarding its internal affairs. Shcharansky was a link between Zionistically-minded people and foreign journalists. The activities of Shcharansky and his colleagues were inspired and supported from abroad.

Activities in Moscow Helsinki Group

The main weight of the charges then shifts to Shcharansky’s activities in the Moscow Helsinki Group. Shcharansky is charged with all the Group’s documents and appeals which he signed. These are: Documents 2-6, 8-9, 11-14, 16-19, the document “Evaluation of the Influence and a number of appeals and statements by the Group”. All the Group’s documents are referred to in the indictment as “anti-Soviet lampoons”.

Several collective letters by Jewish activists also fall under Article 70. These include an “Appeal to the French and Italian Communist Parties”, written in January 1976 on the eve of the 25th CPSU Congress, the appeal To the USSR Supreme Soviet and U S Congress”, the letter “To Jewish Communities in America” (concerning the organization HIAS [the Hebrew Immigration Advisory Service, a Jewish organization serving Jews who want to settle in countries other than Israel.]) and a statement on the death of Colonel Davidovich (CCE 40.6). Also featuring here is a press statement issued by several refuseniks who were portrayed in the television programme “Buyers of Souls”, shown in the autumn of 1976 on the Central Television Network.

The indictment says that the materials which Shcharansky helped to compile or sent to the West were used by such hostile organizations as the Possev Publishing House, YMCA Press [Paris] and Khronika Press [New York], the journal Kontinent, the radio stations Liberty, Free Europe, Deutsche Welle and Voice of America.

In addition, Shcharansky is charged under Article 70 with taking part in the British television film “A Calculated Risk”, filmed in Moscow in 1976. A film about Anatoly Shcharansky, “The Man Who Went Too Far”, made by an English television team after his arrest, is also included in the charges.

The indictment refers to the following as evidence of slander: numerous official reports from places of imprisonment and special and ordinary psychiatric hospitals; testimony from officials employed in these institutions; the testimony of former political prisoner V. Platonov (CCEs 1, 32, 47) and the “political from among the criminals” Epelfeld (the political prisoners in Mordovian Camp No. 1 mentioned him in letters written in the summer of 1977 as one of the rabble set upon them by the administration); and also the testimony of Lipavsky and Tsypin and the daughter of Davidovich, who returned from Israel.

The indictment asserts that Shcharansky acted with mercenary aims, trying at any cost to establish a reputation for himself in the newspapers of certain circles in the West so as to make sure that he would be able to live comfortably if he should ever leave the USSR. With reference to some money which Shcharansky had received from abroad in 1973-1974, it is claimed that he was paid for his activities by foreign intelligence agencies.

The indictment says that Shcharansky does not deny his involvement in the preparation of the documents incriminating him but pleads not guilty.


The Chronicle considers it necessary to comment on certain documents, events and people mentioned in the indictment, and also the content of the two television films produced at the trial as material evidence.

As is already known (CCEs 44, 45), S. L. Lipavsky played a particularly important role in the Shcharansky case. Having got to know many Moscow refuseniks in 1972-1973, he began regularly to help well-known activists as a doctor. While keeping an eye, in his medical capacity, on protest hunger-strikes by Jewish activists, he got to know the family of Vitaly Rubin. Up until the Rubins’ departure from the USSR, Lipavsky was a frequent guest at their home, where many friends, including foreigners, were made welcome. Shcharansky too was a frequent visitor.

At the end of January 1977 Lipavsky suggested to Shcharansky that they rent a room together in the centre of Moscow (they both had residence permits for the Moscow suburbs). He soon found a room and helpfully transferred Shcharansky’s possessions there. Having settled in together, they saw each other rarely, since Shcharansky was in those days entirely absorbed by his work in the Helsinki Group, which was under official attack, and often spent the night with friends. At the end of February Lipavsky suddenly disappeared and on 4 March his open letter appeared in Izvestiya, denouncing Jewish activists and exposing himself as a spy. In March 1978 US President Carter announced to the press that, on checking CIA files, he had not found Shcharansky’s name, but had come across Lipavsky’s and explained that Lipavsky had been working for the CIA for about nine months.

As regards Zapylayeva’s testimony, it is known that Lipavsky helped her to find a room in the communal flat where the Rubins lived. Lipavsky constantly advised his friends to ask Zapylayeva to do their typing for them.

L.B. Tsypin’s testimony is described in detail in the article “According to a Foreign Scenario” (Evening Moscow, 17 May 1977). To this may be added the fact that from the time in 1972 when the 20-year-old Leonid Tsypin was refused a visa for Israel (his parents refused their consent), he spent most of his time among Jewish activists. In 1976 it was discovered that Tsypin was cooperating with the KGB. Sensing that reactions towards him had changed. Tsypin made several unsuccessful attempts to explain himself. After this he disappeared from refusenik circles.

The American journalist Robert Toth worked in Moscow as official correspondent of the Los Angeles Times from 1973 to 1977. R. Toth’s reports on the Soviet Union included articles on the development of science, human rights problems and official emigration policy. Shcharansky sometimes helped Toth as a translator. Neither Toth nor Shcharansky ever concealed their close association.

In June 1977, a week before his departure from the USSR, Toth was detained in the street after a meeting with the biologist Petukhov. There followed a statement by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs concerning Toth’s inadmissible activities” and he was twice questioned by the K G B in connection with the Shcharansky case (CCE 46). Sometime later, TASS and the Literary Gazette (31 August 1977) announced that Toth was a spy. After his return to the USA Toth on several occasions publicly denied these accusations.

Valery Petukhov has been described in M. Popovsky’s samizdat report Muscovites on the “Case” of R. Toth (CCE 46). Popovsky writes that Petukhov is a biophysicist with a doctorate and a member of the Communist Party. In 1973 he worked at the World Health Organization in Switzerland, then became head of a laboratory at the Tarasevich State Drug-Testing Institute. Petukhov insistently proclaimed his interest in parapsychology and in this connection, he asked Shcharansky to introduce him to Toth. R. Toth was detained by the KGB immediately after Petukhov had given him an article of his on parapsychology for publication in the West. The investigative organs claimed that Petukhov’s materials were secret. According to Popovsky, Petukhov is a KGB agent of long standing.

Richard Pipes is a well-known American historian and a professor at Harvard University. Pipes specializes in Russian history: his subject is liberalism in Russia. He is the author of several books, he has visited the Soviet Union several times and is well known to Soviet historians. In the summer of 1975 Pipes spent about a month in Moscow, working in specialist libraries and meeting many Moscow friends.

Senator Brooke is a member of the Negro movement and an important political activist in the USA. He came to Moscow on an official visit in February 1976 and visited Moscow refuseniks.

The American journalists and embassy officials listed in the indictment — Osnos, Krimsky, Friendly, Levitsky, Presel and Natanson — mixed widely with members of the movement for the rule of law and Jewish activists. Allegations that they cooperated with the CIA first appeared in the Soviet press in the winter of 1977, at the time of the vigorous campaign in connection with the human rights question.

The list of refuseniks

The following is known about the list of refuseniks. Jewish activists began to keep such a list when it transpired that several people had been refused visas over a long period of time, while the majority of those who submitted documents for emigration to Israel were being allowed to leave without much difficulty. Those who were refused passed on information about themselves to those keeping the list, either directly or through a “chain” of acquaintances.

Occasionally Jewish activists waited at O V I R offices and questioned people who came for an answer to their applications. The name, surname and patronymic of those refused visas, the town and sometimes the address, the date of application and date of refusal and the reasons for refusal, were entered in the list. Since there are three main reasons for refusal, either “served in the army”, “family refuses consent” or “security reasons” was entered in this part of the list. (Nowadays the entry “no reunification of family involved” appears with increasing frequency.) In some exceptional cases the place of work was entered, in order to show the in- appropriateness of a refusal on grounds of security.

The names of refuseniks who have already left are kept in the list, as the list is cumulative. (Thus, the list to date has about 800 names, including about 250 from Moscow and about 150 from Leningrad.)

The existence of this list has never been kept secret; it is known to the wide circle of people who apply to emigrate and to those interested in the problem of emigration from the USSR. Many refuseniks knew the identity of those who kept the list. The list was checked thoroughly and sent to Jewish organizations in the West concerned with the emigration of Soviet Jews. More often it was read out over the telephone during international calls. Sometimes it was sent out with representatives of Jewish communities when they visited the USSR.

On the basis of this list, analogous lists were kept abroad. An additional source of information for these lists was those people who had left the Soviet Union. Due to the untrustworthiness of some informants, the foreign lists occasionally contained names of non-existent refuseniks. Nevertheless, the overall structure of the Moscow and foreign lists, and the extent of the information they contained about those refused visas, were generally the same.

In the autumn of 1976, a group of Jewish activists proposed that a list be started of those who were refused visas for reasons of state security. It was decided to include in this some information about the institutions which served as grounds for refusal for those who had worked in them. The compilers of the list worked on the following principle: if the officially open institutions in which the refuseniks were employed were engaged in secret work, then foreign firms should not be selling them complex technical equipment; if, however, these institutions were really open, the grounds for refusal were non-existent.

Such a list was begun in February 1977. In addition to the information contained in the traditional list, this one also named the place of work and in some cases the name of the institute director. Enterprises were referred to by name, regardless of whether there was a nameplate on the buildings or not. (Some enterprises without name-plates [i.e. secret institutions] did appear in the list). The directors of institutions were named only in cases where they were well-known scientists authorized to travel abroad, so that Western colleagues could appeal to them directly on behalf of refuseniks.

The list contained no other information. It consisted of about 70 names (three typed pages).

The existence of this list was not kept secret either — those wishing to be included in it gave their particulars either in person or through friends.

Those who compiled the list made use of Zapylayeva’s services. They gave the manuscript to Lipavsky, who shortly afterwards returned it, together with typed copies. No one apart from Lipavsky had direct contact with the typist. In February 1977, when the list of those refused for reasons of state security was typed, Lipavsky returned the typed list without the manuscript, telling an involved story about how the manuscript had been lost. During the searches which took place on 4 March the typed copies of the list were confiscated. (Shcharansky was not searched on that day).

The manuscript of the new list was prepared by Dina Beilina, who regularly undertook the compilation and collation of the lists and gave them to Lipavsky for typing. There is no doubt that all this was well known to the KGB, especially as Beilina made no secret of her participation in the compilation of the lists. In March 1978 it was proposed to D. Beilina, a refusenik of long standing, that she leave the USSR immediately (CCEs 48, 49). The involvement of Shcharansky, as of many other Jewish activists, in preparing the lists consisted of his occasionally waiting at OVIR offices or reading out the lists during telephone calls to England. Shcharansky took no part at all in preparing lists of those refused on grounds of state security,

The lists given to the investigation organs by the janitor Zakharov were found by him, according to the case documents, on 14 April 1977 (a month after Shcharansky’s arrest). These were photocopies of some typed lists annotated by Robert Toth. During the pre-trial investigation, Toth testified that when he discussed with Shcharansky the plan for his article “Soviet Union Indirectly Reveals Centres of Secret Works”, Shcharansky advised him to use the lists of refuseniks in the possession of Jewish organizations in the USA and England, R. Toth said that he was planning to write a series of articles about Soviet scientific institutions whose former employees were being detained in the USSR, and about American firms which traded with them. His first article had already evoked the displeasure of such firms and Toth pursued the subject no further. Toth’s meetings with scientific officials which are mentioned in the indictment and which took place with Shcharansky’s assistance, provided him with material for articles about the development of Soviet science, published in the American press. Toth also collected information for his articles at official meetings with Soviet scientists.

As regards the questionnaire sent to Shcharansky by Rubin’s wife, it is known that it arrived in Moscow via the American Embassy’s diplomatic bag. The envelope was given by the Americans to Lipavsky. Lipavsky took it to the home of one of the refuseniks with a request that it be given to Shcharansky. They did not manage to do this — the house was searched a few days later and the envelope with the questionnaire was confiscated. The questionnaire was compiled for those who had refused visas for undisclosed reasons.


The appeals of refuseniks to American politicians were signed by many people, including Shcharansky. These documents express gratitude for their concern about the refuseniks’ problems and give a positive assessment of the defence of refuseniks from the West. Some of them also contain information on the current emigration situation. Letters written to foreign Jewish communities and to the Zionist Congress contain requests for support in various matters and for the defence of various individuals. The document “Lessons of the Trials of Roitburd and Malkin”, signed by 38 people, is a resolution of an assembly of Jewish activists in Moscow. It expresses their alarm at the criminal prosecution of Jews who have handed in their documents for an exit visa from the USSR, and discusses the problem of their conscription into the army (CCE 37).


Jewish activists and foreign correspondents took part in the meetings of refuseniks with senators and congressmen. These meetings took place openly and Shcharansky acted as an interpreter at them.


The British television film “A Calculated Risk” describes the problems of several national minorities in the USSR: Crimean Tatars, Germans, Lithuanians and Jews. It includes an interview with Shcharansky on the subject of emigration. It also contains film of the Moscow sites of Crimean Tatar and Jewish refusenik demonstrations.

The British film “The Man Who Went Too Far” contains excerpts from “A Calculated Risk”, an interview about Shcharansky with Jewish activists in Moscow, interviews with Michael Sherbourne and Shcharansky’s wife, and also film of demonstrations and meetings organised in the West in defence of Shcharansky.

Shcharansky, The Trial (50.4-3)