On the night of 7-8 October Alexei STASEVICH (b. 1957), Vladimir MIKHAILOV (b. 1952) and Alevtina KOCHNEVA (b. 1959) were arrested in Leningrad for writing on the walls of houses the slogans: “Down with State Capitalism” and “Democracy, not Demagogy”, and also for posting a sticker signed “the Revolutionary Communards”.
The sticker said that the Revolutionary Communards saw the source of evil in the world in the existence of the State, private property and the family. They invited people to join together in a world revolutionary organization so as to fight by every means possible against society’s inhumanity in all its manifestations.
There was a document in the case file which said that on October 7 the police station had received a telephone call informing them of the address of a flat where leaflets were being printed and anti-Soviet literature read, and that that evening three people would be in the Hat writing slogans.
On 8 October, the occupant of this flat, Yu.A. [Yury Arkadievich] Zaidenshnir, was beaten up by eight unknown men when returning from work in the evening; he was then taken to a police station and given 15 days for hooliganism. His wife went to visit the “witnesses” at the addresses given in the record and found out that no such people lived there.
One hour after Zaidenshnir’s detention his flat was searched. Religious and philosophical books, samizdat, copies of a Chronicle of Current Events, a bulletin of the Council of Baptist Prisoners’ Relatives, a typewriter and notebooks were confiscated (71 items in all).
In Leningrad on the same day the flats of A. [Alexei] Osipov’s wife and mother were searched. Religious literature and the book The Essence of Anarchism were confiscated. After the search A. Osipov was taken to the police station, where he was detained until morning. He was interrogated and testified that he had intended to go out with Stasevich, Mikhailov and Kochneva to stick up posters, and that the Revolutionary Communards had no leader. Osipov later wrote a statement to the Procurator retracting all his evidence on the grounds that the interrogators had violated the Code of Criminal Procedure.
Stasevich, Mikhailov and Kochneva were detained in a KGB investigations prison. The investigator conducting the interrogations alleged that they would be tried not for their convictions, but all the same tried to find out who else shared their way of thinking.
The trial took place on 25 December. The judge was Demchenko, the Procurator — Lyubavina. The accused were charged under Article 206, part 2 of tine: RSFSR Criminal Code (‘malicious hooliganism’). The seats in the small courtroom were occupied in the main by unknown people. There were not enough seats for the friends of the accused.
Stasevich refused the services of a lawyer. Mikhailov’s and Kochneva’s lawyers, Ya. Gurevich and Goroshevskaya, submitted a petition for the charges to be reformulated under Article 190-1. The court rejected the petition.
In his speech for the prosecution the Procurator said that the motives of the accused were not political but were pure hooliganism. For example, the stickers contained a load of nonsense incomprehensible both to himself and to the other members of the court; was this not hooliganism? The stickers had been posted with the intention of violating public order. The Procurator demanded three years in strict- regime camps for Stasevich and Mikhailov and one-and-a-half years in ordinary-regime camps for Kochneva.
The lawyers and the accused insisted on a reformulation of the case under Article 190-1. Stasevich and Mikhailov pleaded not guilty.
Kochneva pleaded guilty and said that her activities had been antisocial.
In his final speech Stasevich commented on the contents of the sticker:
“What’s anti-social in it? The fact that we consider people to be exploited in our society and their consciousness manipulated? That conditions do not exist for people’s free development and creativity? That we feel solidarity with the French youth movement of 1968? That we consider the commune the kernel of a communist society?”
The sentences passed were those demanded by the Procurator.
During the investigation Stasevich and Mikhailov were interrogated in connection with the cases of V. Poresh (CCE 54) and A. Ogorodnikov (CCE 54 and this issue). Right there in the courtroom KGB officials detained A. Osipov and Mikhailov’s wife Galina for interrogation as witnesses in these cases.