Vladimir Semyonovich SLEPAK (b. 1927) has been a refusenik since April 1970. He has been actively involved in the Jewish emigration movement and is a member of the Moscow Helsinki Group.
On 1 June Slepak was arrested in his flat and taken to the police station (see 50.8-1, item 7). Criminal proceedings were instituted against him under Article 206, part 2, of the Russian Criminal Code. On the evening of 2 June, he was taken from a detention cell to the Butyrka Prison.
On 6 June Maria Slepak (who had been released from custody on the night of 2-3 June: for her trial, see below) sent a telegram to the Presidium of the USSR Supreme Soviet, that read:
“In accordance with Article 58 of the Constitution of the USSR I am appealing to the highest organ of government authority concerning the patently illegal actions of officials who have begun to fabricate a false case which threatens Vladimir Slepak and myself with unjust punishment, as well as harming the prestige of the Soviet Union in the eyes of the world public. I appeal to you to give Vladimir Slepak back his freedom, and to prevent my unjust punishment.”
On 7 June she sent the following statement to the Procurator of the Frunze district of Moscow:
“I ask you to change the degree of restraint imposed on my husband, Vladimir Semyonovich Slepak, who is in Butyrka Prison, on the grounds of his bad state of health (chronic choleocystitis, varicose veins in the lower limbs, hernia of the diaphragm).”
Frunze district deputy procurator M. I. Chernov replied, refusing her request.
On 8 June M. Slepak publicized an “Appeal to the Public” which ended with the words: “Save us! Demand the release of Vladimir Slepak! Help us to leave this country!” On 10 June she sent a plea for help to the President of the U S A, J. Carter.
18 Jews in Leningrad appealed to the Procurator-General of the USSR:
“… We express our solidarity with Vladimir Slepak and his wife Maria, who are courageously lighting for their right to emigrate to Israel.
“We urge you to intervene immediately in order to put an end to the criminal actions of the KGB against this family. Freedom to Vladimir Slepak!”
Vladimir Slepak, 1927-2015
On 21 June, the peoples’ court of Frunze District, Moscow, examined Vladimir Slepak’s case. The chairman of the court was E. M. Kiselev. The prosecutor was Procurator N. V. Kholyavchenko. There was no defence counsel.
None of V. Slepak’s relatives or acquaintances were allowed into the courtroom. Maria Slepak was in hospital at the time (her case was separated from their ‘joint’ case on 9 June). On the morning of 21 June an MVD official went to the hospital and Maria was taken round the doctors’ offices all day long so that she would not run off to the trial.
The sentence reads in part:
“The accused, V. S. Slepak, on 1 June 1978, committed malicious hooliganism of a particularly impertinent content, in the following circumstances: on 1 June 1978, at approximately 4 pm, V. S. Slepak, together with M. I. Slepak, motivated by hooliganism, hung out on a balcony overlooking a street in the centre of Moscow — Gorky Street — on the balcony of his flat, No. 77, at No. 15 Gorky Street, several sheets with provocative inscriptions, and continued to display these sheets, holding them in his hands, notwithstanding repeated requests by police officers and officials of the Housing Allocation Bureau to cease these activities.
“When police officer V. S. Marinchenko attempted from the adjacent balcony to remove the sheet with the provocative inscription, using a pole, Slepak seized the pole and broke it, accompanying his actions, which were of a prolonged and persistent nature, with threatening gestures and impertinent and provocative shouts, showing open disregard for the public. By his actions Slepak caused a crowd to gather on both sides of the street and in the street itself, as well as causing a temporary interruption of the normal functioning of public transport, serious disruption of order in the street, and disturbance of citizens.
“V. S. Slepak pleaded not guilty to the charges brought against him and explained that he had displayed the placards in order to attract as many people as possible, not out of motives of hooliganism, but wishing thus to obtain for himself and his wife specific results concerning the actions of administrative organs.”
The court applied Article 43 of the Russian Criminal Code (without any explanation) and sentenced V. Slepak to 5 years exile.
On 23 June Maria Slepak sent a telegram from hospital to the Presidium of the USSR Supreme Soviet, that reads:
“… It goes against human conscience to keep silent when such monstrous tyranny is inflicted on an innocent man.
“Therefore, I again appeal to you publicly, from my hospital ward, to put an end to the undeserved persecution of my family, to show humaneness and permit us to leave the country in order to re-unite our separated family.”
On 19 July, the Moscow City Court rejected the appeals of V. Slepak and the lawyer D. M. Akselbant, leaving his sentence unchanged.
At the end of July V. Slepak was sent under escort into exile [in east Siberia]. On 28 August he was released from the escort (thus his term ends in December 1982). His address is: Chita Region, Aginsky district, Tsokto-Khangil village. He is working as a mechanic on a collective farm.
The Trial of Maria Slepak, 26 July 1978 (50.8-4)
Maria Isaakovna SLEPAK (b. 1926) was arrested in her flat together with Vladimir Slepak on 1 June at about 5 pm. She was taken to the police station. At 10 pm she had an attack of pancreatitis with heart pains. The police called an ambulance.
On 2 June investigator N. A. Nasyko of the Frunze district UVD charged Maria Slepak under Article 206, part 2, of the Russian Criminal Code, and interrogated her. Maria Slepak handed the investigator a request to change the degree of restraint in connection with her bad state of health (that day she had a second attack of pancreatitis and the police again called an ambulance). Two hours later Nasyko informed Maria Slepak that the district Procurator had rejected her request. That evening Maria Slepak was transferred from a detention cell to Butyrka Prison.
However, when it was already past midnight, she was taken back to the police station, where the things taken from her at her arrest were returned to her, she was made to sign an undertaking not to leave Moscow and was taken home.
On 6 June Maria Slepak sent a telegram about the interrogation of 2 June to the procurator of Frunze District, that read:
“… I was not able to read the record of the interrogation, as I did not have my leading glasses with me in the detention cell and was seriously ill with an attack of pancreatitis (in connection with which police officers twice called an ambulance). I automatically signed the record read to me by the investigator, which 1 ask you to consider invalid.”
On 9 June Criminal Case No. 2598a (M. Slepak) was separated from Criminal Case No. 2598 (V. Slepak and M. Slepak). On the same day Maria Slepak sent a telegram to the chief of the Frunze district investigation department, in which she wrote: “I refuse to give evidence in a case illegally brought against me …”
On 12 June Investigator Nasyko informed Maria Slepak that the investigation was over, and charged her as follows:
“Maria Isaakovna Slepak committed malicious hooliganism, that is, premeditated actions rudely disrupting public order and showing open disregard for the public, of a particularly impertinent nature, namely: On 1 June 1978 at about 4 pm she and Vladimir Semyonovich Slepak, motivated by hooliganism, hung out on the balcony of their flat, No, 77 at No. 15 Gorky Street, overlooking a street in the centre of Moscow — Gorky Street — several sheets with the inscription ‘Let us go to our son in Israel’ and, notwithstanding repeated requests by policemen and officials of the Housing Allocation Bureau to cease her activities, she continued to demonstrate, holding in her hands a sheet with the inscription ‘Let us go to our son in Israel’, accompanying her actions of a prolonged and persistent nature with threatening gestures, shouts of anti-Soviet content and spitting, and by these actions attracted a large crowd on both sides of Gorky Street, as well as in the street itself, causing a temporary interruption of the normal functioning of public transport, serious disruption of order in the street and disturbance of citizens; i.e., she committed the crime stipulated in Article 206, part 2, of the Russian Criminal Code.”
In the middle of June M. Slepak was in hospital, where she spent about two weeks.
On 25 July, a copy of the indictment and a summons to appear in court on 26 July were delivered to Maria Slepak at home (according to Article 237 of the Russian Code of Criminal Procedure “the court hearing may not be begun sooner than three days after the accused has been handed” a copy of the indictment).
On 26 July, the Frunze district people’s court heard Maria Slepak’s case. The chairman of the court was A. V. Kuzmin. The prosecutor was Procurator I. M. Demeshchuk. There was no defence counsel. Only close relatives of the accused were allowed into the courtroom. At the beginning of the court session Maria Slepak drew the attention of the court to the fact that she had been handed a copy of the indictment only the day before. The court ignored this. Then Maria Slepak read out a statement she had prepared beforehand:
“In this court today, I am about to be tried for “premeditated acts of hooliganism” allegedly committed by my husband and myself. There were in fact no premeditated acts, least of all of hooliganism.
“In 1970 my family — my husband Vladimir Slepak and two of our children — in accordance with the established legal procedure, handed in an application to go to our relatives in Israel,
“We received a refusal. Since then, we have applied to all the official Soviet departments for permission to emigrate to Israel, where my mother, my son and my sister live.
“Early in the morning of 1 June this year, some persons unknown to me, who had driven up to the entrance of our building at 12 pm the night before in a car with government number plates, fastened our door so that it was impossible for us to leave the building. Driven to despair, my husband Vladimir Slepak and I made a placard that read “Let us go to our son in Israel” and went out onto the balcony of our flat.
“I have no doubt that the fate of our family has been decided in advance, and that those of you in this courtroom have only to formalize this decision in a sentence, thus adding new torments to our family’s eight years of suffering.
“For the reasons just given I refuse to take part in this trial. I request that this statement be filed.
She took no further part in the trial. The sentence reads in part:
“In sentencing M. I. Slepak the court has taken into account the gravity of the acts she has committed as well as information about her person and all the concrete details of the case. M. I. Slepak has not been tried before; this is her first criminal offence; she does not deny her actions as a whole in her statement of 26 June 1978, given at the court session. With regard to this, the court finds it possible not to imprison M. I. Slepak, but to give her a suspended sentence.”
The “shouts of anti-Soviet content” and the ‘spitting’ invented by Investigator Nasyko (see above) are not mentioned in the sentence.
The court gave Maria Slepak a 3 years’ suspended sentence with a probation period of 3 years.
M. Slepak decided not to appeal.