The Trial of Ida Nudel, June 1978 (50.8-2)

<<No. 50 : November 1978>>

Ida Yakovlevna NUDEL (b. 1931) has been a refusenik since December 1971. During all this time she has been actively involved in the Jewish emigration movement. In 1972 she was twice imprisoned for 15 days.

Her case file contains a statement to the chief of the 72nd police station of Moscow, signed by Novikov, Kurguzova and Fomichev, who live in the same building as Ida Nudel. It reads:

“In flat No. 28 of our building lives citizen Nudel, whose behaviour is a disgrace to the name of Soviet citizen She hangs out anti-Soviet banners and slogans on her balcony and shouts slander about the Soviet system. As a result, living conditions in the building have become abnormal.

“We ask that decisive measures be taken to protect us from citizen Nudel.”

Attached are instructions dated 2 June: “Comrade N. G. Vlasenko. Institute criminal proceedings under Article 206, part 2, of the Russian Criminal Code and investigate the case.”

Ida Nudel (b. 1931)

On the evening of the same day, Ida Nudel was notified that proceedings had been instituted, and her flat was searched (CCE 50.8-1, item 6).

On 12 June investigator Vlasenko issued Ida Nudel a “Resolution on Your Prosecution as an Accused Person”:

“… I. Ya. Nudel has committed acts of malicious hooliganism rudely disrupting the public order, showing open disregard of the public and of a particularly impertinent content involving resistance to authorities fulfilling their duty to preserve the public order, and to the citizens who interrupted her acts of hooliganism.

“Thus, on 1 June 1978 at approximately 11 am, at her place of residence — Moscow, Yunykh Lenintsev Street 79-6-28 — I. Ya. Nudel prepared and hung out on the balcony of her flat, situated on the fourth floor of the building, placards slandering government institutions, and by means of a home-made paper loudspeaker shouted from her balcony insults directed at government institutions and citizens, disturbing the peace and rest of the inhabitants of the building during a prolonged period. She did not respond to the admonitions of citizens and of local Inspector V, V. Tokarev to cease her acts of hooliganism, she behaved extremely provocatively, and when the above-mentioned attempted to remove the placards from the window and balcony of her Hat, she put up resistance, acting with extreme impertinence, and, motivated by hooliganism, obstructed the removal of the placards by pouring hot water on the above-mentioned persons. I. Ya. Nudel continued her acts of hooliganism until 10 pm on 1 June 1978, disrupting public order in the yard and hindering the inhabitants of the building from resting normally; i.e., she committed the crime stipulated in Article 206, part 2, of the Russian Criminal Code.

“Moreover, the same I. Ya. Nudel, on 4 June 1978, at approximately 6 pm went to Trubnaya Square, Moscow, not having come to the right conclusions, and, disrupting public order, held up placards slandering and insulting government institutions, behaved extremely provocatively, and paid no attention to the demands to cease her hooliganism made by citizens indignant at her hooliganism and by police officers. Having been taken to the 18th police station, Moscow, she continued her acts of hooliganism, behaved provocatively, showed open disrespect towards police officers, refused to go into the office to give an explanation, and hindered the normal work of police officers; i.e., she committed the crime stipulated in Article 206, part 2, of the Russian Criminal Code.”

Nudel was made to sign an undertaking not to leave Moscow.


On 14 June I. Nudel made the following statement:

“In 1971 I applied to the Soviet government for permission to emigrate to Israel. My decision was dictated by the conditions of extreme anti-Semitism which I began to sense especially acutely after 1948. Throughout my conscious life, and most of all after I left the Institute, I have been confronted at work, in the street, in newspapers and books, with open hatred, contempt, slander and refined forms of degradation of my national dignity.

“As a sensitive person, with an understanding, gained through suffering, of the destiny of my people and of my own duty vis-a-vis my people, as soon as I had handed in my documents for an exit visa, I began to participate actively in the life of the Moscow Jews who shared my feelings and convictions.

“I was singled out by the KGB organs and in December 1971 received a refusal of my petition to emigrate.

“On 12 June I was told that the investigation was over, that there was enough material to corroborate the charges, and that my case would be handed over for a court hearing. T was permitted to study the investigation material. Since all the testimonies were written by Investigator Vlasenko himself, they are fairly uniform, and I have copied out only some of them or parts of them. I would like to point out in particular the report of V. P. Ivanov, who searched my flat and used his official position for criminal purposes, which show in the fact that he knowingly gave false testimonies with the intention of concealing the hooliganism of the KGB and their inflicting of material damage on me. In the place of the broken pane in a window of my flat, a yellow Star has hung since 7 June of this year, as a symbol of my suffering and persecution.”

Ida Nudel sent telegrams recounting First Lieutenant Ivanov’s false testimony to Brezhnev, to the Ministers of Justice and of Internal Affairs, to the Plenum of the USSR Supreme Soviet, to the Volgograd district Party Committee and to the Volgograd district people’s court.

On 15 June, a Judge of this court, A. A. Anashkin, set the date of Ida Nudel’s hearing for 21 June.

On 16 June I. Nudel sent a telegram to the Dutch Embassy, that read:

“… As a citizen of Israel since 1972 (the document confirming my citizenship is in the possession of the K G B; the certificate number is 642, dated June 1972), I ask the consul representing the interests of Israel in the USSR to petition the Soviet government to allow him to be present in court during the hearing.”

On the same day she sent telegrams to Brezhnev, the Procurator- General of the USSR, the Editor-in-Chief of the newspaper Pravda and to the Reuter agency in Moscow:

“… As a sign of protest against the use of terror on me I hung a yellow Star of David in my window. Today I received an ultimatum from the KGB ordering me to remove the Star. For over two hours now my windows have been under attack and are being broken. I demand immediate intervention.”

At the same time Ida Nudel sent the following telegram to the Central Committee of the C P S U and to the Council on Religious Affairs:

“I would like to be informed immediately whether hanging out a Jewish religious symbol — the Star of David — constitutes grounds for persecution and eviction from one’s flat.”

24 activists of the Jewish emigration movement sent a telegram to Brezhnev, Andropov and Shchelokov demanding that the terror against Ida Nudel be stopped.


On 17 June V. G. Kurguzova (see above) handed in the following statement to the chairman of the Housing Construction Cooperative: For a week in June 1978, every day at nightfall, stones were thrown at the placard hung in the window of flat 28, that of citizen Nudel, and once the words “Show your face, Jewish carrion!” were shouted. On 16 June 1978 at 11 pm my window-pane was broken with a stone. I ask you to take necessary measures and replace my broken window-pane.


On 17 June Nudel asked the Volgograd district procurator to recall her case from the court. On 18 June she addressed a similar request to the Moscow Procurator.

On 20 June Nudel sent the Volgograd district people’s court several petitions (asking for a number of persons to be summoned as witnesses and for an investigation to be made in order to establish whether the slogan “KGB! Give me a visa!” constitutes slander “of government institutions”, etc.):

“Only after the court has satisfied all these petitions can it establish the truth, which has been deliberately misrepresented by the investigation.”

On the same day, Ida Nudel made the following statement:

“I have been trying to obtain permission to emigrate for seven years already. During these seven years I have not once been able to meet the people who decide my fate.

“Several times I gave the KGB an account of the work I was involved in. This work consisted in choosing sites for the future construction of microbiological industrial plants, for the production of either pesticides or ferments to be used in food production.

“I have never been involved in the production of secret preparations, neither have I been told that anybody working in the same Institute was involved in such work.

“A refusal for no reason, and without any indication of how long it will last, makes a person’s life continual suffering. Many people cannot bear this torture of uncertainty. They are ready to take the most drastic steps in order to find out just when their waiting will end.

“For seven years 1 have been awaiting permission. I cannot say that I have waited quietly and obediently for my exit visa. No; rather, I have been a nuisance to the authorities.

“They put me in prison three times for short periods; in 1973 they fabricated a medical diagnosis that I was an alcoholic, intending to shut me up in a lunatic asylum. Since 1972 the ceiling of my flat has had a hole drilled in it and my every word, sigh and groan is transmitted to the KGB. All my correspondence, both foreign and local, passes through rigorous censorship. I am almost constantly followed, either secretly or openly, by K G B agents.

“During these seven years of waiting for permission to emigrate, I have become known to a wide circle of people, due to the fact that for all these years I have actively opposed the oppression of the authorities… I am deeply and sincerely grateful to all my friends, both near and far away.”


On 21 June, the trial was held. None of Ida Nudel’s friends or acquaintances was allowed into the courtroom. Ida Nudel stated that as long as they were not allowed in, she would not enter the courtroom. Then the court changed the degree of restraint imposed on her and she was taken into custody. The persons whom Ida Nudel had requested were not summoned to the court as witnesses; neither were those who had sent a request to the court in advance (for example, Abram Nizhnikov). Ida Nudel gave no evidence, neither during the pre-trial inquiry nor at the trial. She refused the lawyer assigned to her, but the court did not accept her refusal. The lawyer, Gavin, asked that the defendant be acquitted as there was no corpus delicti in her actions. In her final speech Ida Nudel said:

“So I must sum up my activities. The final speech — this phrase has a very solemn sound, almost as if it already belonged to the next world; then, there will be no more words, or words will no longer have any meaning.

“On 1 June of this year I did the following: in desperation I affirmed my right to public expression of protest. But 1 am not being tried for this, although I have been formally charged with a demonstration on my balcony on 1 June and a demonstration on 4 June on Trubnaya Square. I am being tried for the past seven years, the most glorious years of my life. And if, many years from now, I must make another final speech, 1 am absolutely certain that I will again repeat that these seven years of my life, for which 1 am sitting today on the bench of the accused, have been the most difficult and the most glorious of my life.

“During these seven years I have learned to walk with my head proudly held high — as a person and as a Jew. These seven years of my life have been filled with struggle, for myself as well as for others. And each time I managed to save the life of another victim, my heart was filled with an extraordinary feeling, one that has no equal. Perhaps it is akin to what a woman feels after giving birth to a new life. Even if the rest of my life is grey and monotonous, none of you, my judges, can think up a retribution which will gain you revenge for my victorious triumph of these seven years.

“These seven years will make me conscious of the fact that my life was not lived in vain, and they will warm my heart.”


The court applied Article 43 of the Russian Criminal Code and sentenced Ida Nudel to 4 years’ exile. I. Nudel refused to appeal.

Ida Nudel was sent under escort to the village of Krivosheino, Tomsk Region, to serve her exile. She was released from escort on 1 August. (Thus, her term of exile ends on 1 April 1982). She is working as a cleaner.