1 November 1979 (54.1)

<<No 54 : 15 November 1979>>

On this day, Tatyana Mikhailovna VELIKANOVA, a veteran participant of the movement to defend the rule of law, and Orthodox priest Gleb Pavlovich YAKUNIN, a founder-member of the Christian Committee for the Defence of Believers’ Rights in the USSR, were arrested in Moscow.

T. Velikanova and G. Yakunin were sent to the KGB Investigations Prison (Lefortovo). The investigation is being conducted by the Moscow KGB Investigations Department: Case No. 515 (Yakunin) by Major Yakovlev and Case No. 516 (Velikanova) by Captain Katalikov. (Major Yakovlev, then a captain, and Captain Katalikov, then a senior lieutenant, were involved in the investigation of the Orlov case, see CCEs 44-9).

While these arrests were taking place, during the morning of 1 November, seven searches were conducted in connection with Case 515 and two in connection with Case 516.

Many statements of protest were issued in response to the arrests of Velikanova and Yakunin. See First Responses” (CCE 54.1-1).

The Arrest of Tatyana Velikanova

Senior Investigator of the Moscow KGB Captain Kapayev conducted the arrest and subsequent search. (As a senior lieutenant he had also participated in the investigation of the Orlov case and in particular had then interrogated T. Velikanova, CCE 47). Arriving with four others at Velikanova’s flat at 8 am, he made everyone get out of bed (Tatyana Mikhailovna’s daughter and son-in-law [Y. and V. Keidan] and their small children were also in the flat). Kapayev informed Velikanova that she must come “for a chat” and told her “to dress warmly”. She demanded an official explanation and, if this was an arrest or some other legal action, to be shown the appropriate document. Kapayev said: “You can call this our tyranny.” He added that if she would not come of her own accord she would be removed by force. KGB official L.B. Karatayev left to accompany Velikanova (he had taken part in the search of her home on 11 October, see “Case No. 46012” in the section “Arrests, Searches, Interrogations” CCE 54.15; he is not to be confused with B.B. Karatayev — see “A Conversation with Bakhmin” in the section “Miscellaneous Reports”, CCE 54.22).

Only after they left did Kapayev show Vladimir and Yulia Keidan the search warrant “in connection with Case No. 516” signed by Katalikov, and when Karatayev returned they started the search. Shipilov, a vigilante (druzhinnik), also took part in this search, although this was not mentioned on the record, as he had on 11 October. The witness Krymskaya advised the investigator where else to look and translated foreign texts; she carefully inspected Yu. Grimm’s passport — he had arrived at the flat during the search — claiming that she doubted the authenticity of one of the stamps. A second witness, Sokolov, guarded the front door and also the other flat (in the landing, and prevented Velikanova’s neighbour from using the telephone or leaving her flat.

The articles confiscated during the search were listed on a record (74 points) which was slightly more detailed than the record of the 11 October search, but even here there were points like “19 loose sheets of paper with various handwritten notes”. Among the articles confiscated were:

  • Moscow Helsinki Group documents; an Information Bulletin of the Working Commission to Investigate the Use of Psychiatry for Political Purposes; Adventist publications (typewritten and printed); typewritten pamphlets in Lithuanian (including the Chronicle of the Lithuanian Catholic Church No. 40);
  • Documents and other information about trials and the situation of prisoners; statements in their defence (concerning, for example, M. Kukobaka, A. Rossiisky, M. Plakhotnyuk and Yu. Litvin).
  • Russian newspapers and periodicals published abroad; Khronika Press publications (including issues of the Chronicle of Current Events); books and other publications in foreign languages, including G. Vladimov’s Faithful Ruslan (a translation into French) and Amnesty International publications.
  • Letters (including some to be mailed to other countries); notes (for example: “Tat. Mikh., if you get any concrete information about what happened to Gorbal, phone me … Yura Yarym-Agayev’); notebooks.
  • Paper and carbon paper.
  • The forensic psychiatric report on N. E. Gorbanevskaya dated 6 April 1970.
  • A collection of tales by Mikhail Bulgakov (Diavoliada and Other Stories).

Vladimir and Yulia Keidan expressed their indignation at the form taken by the search (the behaviour of the witnesses, the intrusion into their neighbour’s flat) and the fact that it took place in the absence of Tatyana Mikhailovna. They refused to sign the record. They questioned Kapayev about what was happening to her, and he gave them Katalikov’s telephone number. Phoning him after the search, they succeeded only in having the fact of the arrest confirmed; Katalikov refused to give them any information about the nature of the charge (‘It’s not convenient for me to talk. I’ve got visitors,” he said. It later turned out that his “visitor” at that moment, who was being interrogated in connection with Case No. 515, was L. Poluektova; see below). When, over the next few days, relatives asked him about the nature of the charge, even just to tell them what articles of the Criminal Code were involved, he replied: “Not over the telephone.”


At the same time that T. Velikanova was being arrested, two further searches, at the homes of V.V. Sokirko and N.P. Lisovskaya, were begun in connection with Case No. 516.


They arrived to search the home of Victor Sokirko (see CCEs 7, 29, 46, 47, 49, 51-53) while his two younger children were being seen off to nursery school. One of the KGB officials took this duty upon himself. The two elder children were not allowed to go to school.

Senior Lieutenant Zotov, conducting the search, replied to Sokirko’s questioning that he did not know what Case No. 516 consisted of (he told him to address any queries to Deputy Chief of the Moscow KGB Investigations Department Major Trofimov); however, he asked him to surrender voluntarily articles “relevant to the case”, namely literature containing slanderous fabrications, defaming the system, and also large sums of money (over 1,000 roubles). Sokirko stated that he possessed neither such literature nor such sums of money.

As a result of the search a typewriter (the third this year), five notebooks (addresses and phone numbers), collections of abstracts issued “for official use” by the Institute for Information on the Social Sciences, several letters and manuscripts, poems by A. Akhmatova and N. Korzhavin, books by V. Bukovsky and A. Avtorkhanov, annotated photographic negatives and typewritten papers (22 points in all) were confiscated. V. Sokirko stated that the confiscated items could have no relevance to any breach of the law and noted his protest on the record. His wife L. Tkachenko also wrote a protest — against herself and her children being detained in the flat.


Senior Lieutenant Nikitin conducted the search at the home of N.P. Lisovskaya. He showed her a search warrant stating that she was “under suspicion for possession of slanderous literature and other materials connected with the case” (No. 516). Instead of answering Lisovskaya’s question about the nature of Case 516, Nikitin asked her whether she would hand over the “literature and materials” herself. Lisovskaya made no reply to this, but afterwards read in the record: “She stated that she had nothing’. She did not sign the record.

Books (including Berdyaev’s The Russian Idea and M. Popovsky’s The Life and Times of Voino-Yasenetsky); CCE 52; a large number of handwritten papers; lists of political prisoners and exiles, and notes about help sent to them were confiscated at the search. A typewriter and a camera were also taken.

Lisovskaya writes:

“The people carrying out the search worked in a business-like fashion and behaved correctly. At the end i read the record point for point (there were 76 in all) and they placed the appropriate articles in their bag.

“If they had been engaged in any other task one could have admired their work, erudition and even their appearance (they knew English, could distinguish the poetry of Akhmatova, Mandelstam and others at a glance, and were young, tall, good-looking and well- dressed) … If only they were engaged in something else …”

N. P. Lisovskaya (b. 1917) is a Doctor of Biological Sciences and a Senior Research Officer at the All-Union Vitamin Research Institute. She has for a long time participated in activities to defend the rule of law (CCEs 25, 32, 39) and in helping political prisoners. In 1970 she was dismissed from the USSR Academy of Sciences Biochemistry Institute.

The Arrest of Gleb Yakunin

As in the case of T. Velikanova, Father Gleb Yakunin was taken from his home early in the morning and not told that this was an arrest; nor was he shown a search warrant. The investigator even reproached him when he began to say goodbye to his wife and children: “What are you creating a scene for, Gleb Pavlovich? We’re calling you as a witness; you’ll be home again soon.’


After Father Gleb had been taken away, a search of his flat took place. The warrant was signed by Yakovlev and the search was conducted by Senior Lieutenant Novikov and officials of the Moscow KGB Andreyev and Yezhopkov. The record contains 35 points. The following items were confiscated:

  • Christian Committee Documents (including some in the form of a book published abroad); Committee notepaper; a large amount of material about the situation of believers; letters to the Moscow Patriarch and hierarchs of the Orthodox Church, and also to Pope John Paul II;
  • Religious and philosophical books, including Orthodox Thought, Russian Thinkers in Europe, Literary Theology, Transparence by Vyacheslav Ivanov, a book by S. M. Soloviev about Vladimir Soloviev; Open Thou the Doors to Me by F. Svetov; the pamphlet Those whom we defend  (in connection with the case of V. K. Zaitsev, see “In the Psychiatric Hospitals”);
  • Letters, telegrams, addresses and notebooks;
  • A tape-recorder and cassettes;
  • Two of Yakunin’s medical documents (one about an operation he had had);
  • A photocopy of the 28 September search record (see “Arrests, Searches, Interrogations’).

The people carrying out the search behaved rudely. Fr Gleb’s wife Iraida Yakunina refused to sign the record, since the search had taken place in his absence. Only in the evening did she find out by telephone from Major Yakovlev that her husband had been arrested. Yakovlev did not say what he had been charged with.


On 13 November, a new search was conducted in Yakunin’s flat. On the same day Iraida Yakunina had discovered among the mail in her post-box a letter without an envelope in a foreign language (she could not tell which language). The search began soon after that. This time it was conducted by Katalikov. His behaviour, and that of the other KGB officials, was remarkably rude and unceremonious. (The search began with the shout: “Stay where you are!”, and they woke up the Yakunins’ two-year-old daughter.) Iraida Yakunina was told to hand over any documents, literature, icons, foreign currency and other items “relating to the criminal case”. She replied that the icons were hanging where they could be seen, that she had no foreign currency and that she was not acquainted with her husband’s documents and books.

The officials took 19 icons (almost all they had in the house) and a wooden crucifix. (They first photographed the icons using a flash, which is how they woke the child.) They also took books (including, once again, About our Hope by Dmitry Dudko), letters and reels of amateur photographs (taken by the Yakunins’ eldest daughter). To I. Yakunina’s remark that all these articles had been in the house during the two previous searches and it would have been better for them to have taken everything at once, otherwise they would be coming all the time, the investigators answered: “We will come again”. Among the ‘new’ articles taken were letters which had arrived after Father Gleb’s arrest, including the letter in a foreign language which had only just been taken out of the box.

The two witnesses took an active part in the search. The investigator also summoned the Yakunins’ neighbour V. G. Shiryaeva and ordered her to conduct body-searches of Iraida Yakunina and the two girls, 16-year-old Masha Yakunina and her friend, who was visiting from another town. For the body-searches Iraida was ordered to the small room and the girls to the kitchen, so that the investigators were in fact working on their own (the search mainly took place in the larger (who had earlier tried hard to make friends with Iraida and Father Gleb) conducted her searches in a very professional manner, removing and running her fingers along the seams of clothes. She told the investigator that nothing had been found but drew attention to the fact that Yakunina was wearing a gold cross. At er this the investigator immediately let her leave. Only after Iraida Yakunina’s insistent protests was Shiryayeva included in the records (as an extra witness) and the fact of the body-search mentioned.


Seven more searches were conducted in connection with Case No. 513, at the homes of members of the Christian Committee V. Kapitanchuk and V. Shcheglov, and also of L. Ivanova L Poluektova. L. Zdanovskaya and V. Stepanov. The Chronicle does not know the surname of the woman at whose house the seventh search took place; she is a typist by profession, now a pensioner.


Twenty-three folders of Committee materials, Baptist and Adventist documents and publications, a typewriter and carbon paper were confiscated at the search of Viktor Kapitanchuk’s home. Books were also taken: Akhmatova’s Requiem, Cranston’s Human Rights, and Solzhenitsyn’s One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich — the investigator defined these as “ideologically harmful literature’. Kapitanchuk asked whether the Bible was “ideologically helpful literature’, but the investigator replied: “We don’t take the Bible”.


The search of Vadim Shcheglov’s home began when he had already left for work. His wife was told that it was better that he was not at home. A typewriter, a camera, films with photographs of children, tape cassettes (church music and songs of ‘the bards’), the Chronicle and Posev (old 1960s issues), folders of papers, personal forms and documents (notarized copies) were taken. The search was thorough — they even looked in saucepans and under the bath. Shcheglov’s wife refused to sign the record.


Investigator Bunakov conducted the search at the home of Lyudmila Ivanova, the wife of L. Regelson. Ivanova did not answer the door immediately the bell rang, so they broke the door in (they mended it after the search). About 20 documents and books were taken (including the first volume of V. Maximov’s collected works, The Gulag Archipelago and Metropole). blank paper, carbon paper and two typewriters. At Ivanova’s insistence the record was drawn up in minute detail (it took three hours to write).

Over the next few days Ivanova repeatedly telephoned Major Yakovlev, insistently demanding the return of the typewriters, as she is a professional! typist and her work supports five children. Yakovlev replied that he could decide that question only if they met face to face and eventually told her to come on 12 November. When she arrived, she was interrogated for three hours. Yakovlev asked her what activities G. Yakunin, V. Kapitanchuk and V. Shcheglov were engaged in as members of the Committee (answer: I don’t know’), whether Ivanova had typed anything for them or for L. Regelson, and whether they had asked her to type anything (answer: “No’).

L. Ivanova’s typewriters were returned.


Investigator Popov conducted the search at the home of Larissa Poluektova. Her letters were read with particular thoroughness. Among the articles confiscated (23 points on the record) were letters, photographs, four Christian Committee documents and a letter from Yakunin and Regelson to Portuguese Christians. After the search Poluektova was taken to the Small Lubyanka, where the KGB Investigations Department is situated and interrogated by Katalikov. His questions concerned Poluektova’s relationship with members of the Christian Committee and the contents of the confiscated documents.

After the “formal” interrogation, an “explanatory chat” took place in which Yakovlev, who arrived later, took part. They said to Poluektova:

‘What are your friends striving for? There’s your Alik (A. Ginzburg, Chronicle) who’s got himself a stomach disease: Father Gleb’s going to get his seven years, he won’t see his children, and his health will be ruined.”

They also tried to convince her that Yakunin’s activities were of a political nature and put particular emphasis on the confiscated appeal to Portuguese Christians, in which Yakunin and Regelson had warned that a coming to power of the Communists would pose a deadly threat to the Church and believers in Portugal. Yakovlev and Katalikov, as if just talking to one another, discussed the workings of the Committee. “The Committee receives letters, and then what? Weil, they write something and then hand it to someone to type. Who types it? Well, someone types it, and then? It’s sent out. To whom?” Poluektova, after staying that she knew nothing about the work of the Committee, did not take part in their dialogue. She also said that she did not know what was contained in the Committee documents confiscated from her. Katalikov promised to let her see them and wrote in the interrogation record (in her name):

“I will give my evaluation of the Committee documents during future interrogations.”

On 3 November Poluektova received notification of the next interrogation, for 6 November. On that day. however, she left with her 12-year-old son for Hungary, where she had been privately invited. At the border station of Chop, Poluektova was told that her passport had an out-of-date serial number and that she could not, therefore, cross the border. Poluektova explained that OVIR in Moscow had just issued her passport, and when that did not help. she asked them to draw up a statement saying that her passport was invalid. Captain Skripka, who conducted the operation, told her that no statement would be forthcoming, and she would have to clear up the problem m Moscow, to where she must return immediately. When she arrived home the next day her eldest daughter told her that some very anxious-looking people had come to the house on the 6th, some “from the police’. some “from OVIR” and asked where she was and when she would return.


The search at the home of Lydia Josifovna Zdanovskaya (Gleb Yakunin’s aunt) did not last long. It was conducted by Captain Zabolotny. All the articles confiscated (four points on the record) belonged to her husband A. Krasnov-Levitin, who had emigrated in 1974 (CCE 34).

A form from the Post Office about the transfer to him of 240 dollars; a customs declaration about the contents of a parcel which he had been sent from abroad; a few odd papers from his archives (letters, poetry, rough copies of manuscripts); and a statement of the Action Group for the Defence of Human Rights, of which he had been a member (dated 1973).


Vladimir Stepanov, who lives in the town of Pushkino. near Moscow, is also a relative of Father Gleb (his wife’s brother). The officials conducting the search entered his house at 7 am with the help of a neighbour who knocked at Stepanov’s door and told him that he had visitors! The search was very thorough: they turned the house upside-down, climbed into the loft and broke several things (a box and a picture frame). They took books, letters, samizdat, and also an unregistered hunting rifle and a starting pistol.


Many statements of protest were issued in response to the arrests of Velikanova and Yakunin. See First Responses” (CCE 54.1-1).