The Barladyanu Case (45.8)

<<No 45 : 25 May 1977>>

As already described (CCE 44), V. V. Barladyanu was arrested on 2 March 1977 in Odessa during a search at the flat of the Sery couple (CCE 42).

This search was carried out without witnesses; the persons conducting it refused to show any documents establishing their identities and giving them a right to search. The search was conducted after midnight. The searchers lifted up the children in order to inspect their beds, and jostled Valentina Seraya (who was eight months pregnant). Seraya made a complaint about illegal entry and rude behaviour to the procurator of the Odessa Region.

She was soon called to the regional procuracy, ostensibly for discussion of her complaint. However, when she arrived, they began to ask her about Vasily Barladyanu. Seraya refused to reply or to sign papers given her by the investigator. (Leonid Sery, who was in hospital at the time of the search, was later interrogated by the KGB, probably in connection with the Rudenko case. He also refused to answer).


Barladyanu’s wife was repeatedly summoned for interrogation, as was his father. Valentina Barladyanu was asked among other things about her husband’s contacts with Rudenko and other inhabitants of Kiev.

At the beginning of April Vasily Barladyanu was permitted to send his wife a note and she was allowed to bring a dictionary and several journals to the prison for him. However, it was demanded in return that Valentina should give the investigator 30-40 pages of continuous text in her husband’s handwriting, ostensibly for examination by a graphologist (as it later transpired, it was for examination by a psychiatrist). She refused to do this, and the books she had left at the prison for her husband were returned to her. Investigator Gulenko said that she would receive no more notes and would certainly not be allowed the visit she had long been demanding.


In connection with the Barladyanu case A. Golumbievskaya and E. Danielyan were summoned for interrogation. Golumbievskaya was warned at the procuracy of the possibility of a criminal case being instigated against her. As for Danielyan, during her interrogation on the case of Barladyanu, with whom she was almost unacquainted, the investigator asked about her Moscow and Tarusa acquaintances, and in particular about A. I. Ginzburg and N. A. Strokatova. All those interrogated were urged not to write any letters or declarations, since there was no point in it and such activity might harm the authors.


In March Valentina Barladyanu, E. Danielyan, A. Golumbievskaya, Leonid and Valentina Sery, O. and G. Vishnevetsky, L. Tymchuk, A. Mikhailenko and Yu. Gorodentsev sent an appeal to senior investigator of the Odessa regional procuracy V. V. Gulenko who was in charge of the case of Vasily Barladyanu:

“On 2 March 1977 V. V. Barladyanu, a man close to us, was arrested. Knowing Barladyanu well, we are convinced that imprisonment during the pretrial investigation is a superfluous measure and brings unnecessary suffering for him and his family. Therefore, we request you to consider the possibility of releasing Barladyanu on our guarantee, something that is provided for by Article 152 of the Ukrainian Code of Criminal Procedure.

“We hope that you will accommodate us on this, especially taking account of the fact that, as we know, he declared a hunger-strike from the first day of his arrest…

“We request that this formal notice be considered as a written undertaking that we guarantee the correct behaviour of the accused, and his appearance when summoned, and undertake in case of necessity to bring him to the organs of investigation and trial on the first demand.”

Having received a refusal, Valentina Barladyanu, A. Golumbievskaya, L. and V. Sery, L. Tymchuk and Yu. Gorodentsev appealed to the International Red Cross:

“… We ask you to make representations to the competent Soviet organs:

  • to select a more humane way of curtailing the ‘criminal activities’ of Barladyanu;
  • if this should prove impossible — for relatives to be given visits to Barladyanu, and for a medical commission (including representatives of his family) to be given the chance to ascertain the state of his health;
  • to speed up proceedings and for the earliest possible consideration of the case in court …”

A footnote to this appeal adds:

“As has only just become known to us, the investigation in connection with the Barladyanu case is drawing to an end. However, we know that between the end of the investigation and the examination of the case in court many months may elapse. As Barladyanu cannot now influence the course of the investigation, it would be all the more reasonable to change the measure of restraint applied to him.

“We are convinced that this humane step by the authorities would be suitably appreciated by Vasily Barladyanu and his friends, and would lead to the ending of his hunger-strike …”

(It is known that Vasily Barladyanu refused to accept a package.)


On 12 April KGB Captain A. S. Alekseyev talked to A. V. Golumbievskaya. Alekseyev believed that Golumbievskaya herself was the author of all the collective and individual statements and declarations, even those which she herself had not signed. Furthermore, Alekseyev frankly declared to Golumbievskaya, a teacher of literature and Russian language in a secondary school: “Only you still have anything to lose” and explained that she could be transferred to work with junior classes or even entirely deprived of the opportunity of teaching (see CCE 34). Alekseyev told Golumbievskaya that she was wasting her efforts, since ‘all the same no one will find out’ about the case of Barladyanu.

In the latter half of April, it became clear that V. V. Barladyanu had been subjected to forensic-psychiatric examination as an out-patient and ruled responsible.

At the end of April Gulenko reported that the investigation was drawing to a close. He insisted that Valentina Barladyanu should conclude an agreement with a defence lawyer from Odessa and proceeded to recommend such a lawyer.


At the end of April Yelena Danielyan was about to go to Moscow to collect her belongings (at the end of the previous year she had spent several months in Moscow and Tarusa). She told her Moscow friends about the forthcoming visit by telephone. On 29 April, the day of departure, a courier from the procuracy arrived with a summons demanding her urgent appearance for interrogation. Elena’s mother said that it seemed her daughter had already left. Half-an-hour later Gulenko telephoned her; he said that Yelena could not have left before 17.30 (the ticket was indeed booked for this flight) and demanded that her mother go to the airport and intercept her daughter.

As Danielyan’s mother refused to do this, officials took the matter over. Danielyan was detained at the airport by people in civilian clothes who refused to show their documents but declared that they were police employees and were acting on Gulenko’s orders. They warned Danielyan that she should not try to leave Odessa before the end of the Barladyanu case, since anyway she would not be permitted to do so. There was no further mention of the ’urgent summons to the procuracy’.

Danielyan lodged a protest about this unlawful detention.

(Earlier, on 11 April 1977, Danielyan had already been detained and searched at Odessa airport during an attempt to fly to Moscow. After this she was read a warning about criminal answerability for parasitism.)