Letters and Statements, August 1977 (46.17)

<<No 46 : 15 August 1977>>

[1] The New Soviet Constitution

(56 signatures) “To the Politburo of the CPSU Central Committee. To the Supreme Soviet of the USSR” (2 June 1977). “… In connection with the imminent adoption of a new Constitution, we call on the Soviet government to declare the first general amnesty for political prisoners in the history of the Soviet regime …”

[2] In Remembrance of Novocherkassk 1962

(20 signatures) “Eternal Memory”.

On 2 June 1962, a demonstration by the people in Novocherkassk (Rostov Region) “was gunned down.” “We call for 2 June to be declared a Day of Remembrance for the victims of that act of violence, a day of struggle against the bloody terror of the authorities.”

[3] Helsinki Group to Belgrade Conference

Moscow Helsinki Group, 1976-1983

Summary document of “the Group to Assist the Implementation of the Helsinki Agreements” addressed to the Belgrade Conference (18 pp):

“This document is not a systematic survey of the Helsinki Group’s materials; it is meant as an appraisal, based on the Group’s materials, of the results of the Helsinki Agreement’s two-year existence and of its prospects in future.

“We have aimed to answer the following three questions:

  • Is the Soviet government fulfilling its obligations on human rights, which were laid down in the Final Act?
  • How has the Helsinki Agreement influenced human rights problems in the USSR and the countries of Eastern Europe?
  • What are the prospects for the Belgrade Conference?”

The Group answers the first question, which it posed a year ago (see CCE 41.8), in the negative. The document answers the second question as follows:

“However, the signing of the Helsinki Agreement has had a definite indirect influence on the problem of human rights in the USSR and the countries of Eastern Europe.

“First, the fact that the governments of these countries signed the Helsinki Agreement has given the citizens of the said countries a basis for demanding that fundamental human rights should be observed and for counting on the support of Western public opinion and government figures as now the human rights situation has been linked to the security of 35 countries in Europe and North America and to an agreement that state frontiers in Europe are inviolable. The governments of the USSR and some other East European countries responded by stepping up repression against human rights campaigners.

“Secondly, the Soviet Union’s open and shameless violation of its agreed obligations in the field of human rights has produced a reaction among many people in Western countries and has opened their eyes to the great difficulty of exercising these rights in countries which everyone calls socialist, and to the lack of any progress in this field.”

The document answers the third question in three different ways, depending on whether or not the Belgrade Conference recognizes the Soviet government’s unwillingness to implement the human rights clauses in the Final Act; if it does recognize this fact, the document asks whether it will go on trying to put into practice the basic idea of the Helsinki Agreement — the idea, proclaimed for the first time, that the observance of human rights is a necessary element of international agreements intended to keep the peace and develop cooperation between nations.

The document expresses the hope that the Conference will work out, to a greater or lesser degree, some formal criteria for the observance of human rights obligations.

[4] In Support of Shcharansky

Yu. Yarym-Agayev, L, Ulanovsky, A. Lerner, M. Khait, V. Fain, E. Finkelshtein, I. Gurvich, E. Tsyrlin, V. Eidus, V. Bakhmin, V. Gertsberg, E. Pergamannik:

To the professors, lecturers, graduates and students of all universities.

An appeal by former students and lecturers of the Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology to speak out in support of Anatoly Shcharansky (Shcharansky is a graduate of the institute).

[5] In Support of Shcharansky

(22 signatures) “A Word on behalf of Anatoly Shcharansky”, 15 June 1977

An emotional appeal in defence of Shcharansky.

[6] About the Helsinki Groups in the USSR

Petro Grigorenko, Malva Landa, V. SIepak, Naum Meiman, Yelena Bonner: “Declaration of the Helsinki Monitoring Group in the USSR” (29 June 1977). During the trial [in Ukraine] of Nikolai Rudenko, Alexy Tikhy and Vasily Barladyanu, the members of the Moscow Helsinki Group declare that the Helsinki groups are continuing their activities.

[7] Serebrov to Petrov-Agatov

Felix Serebrov: Open Letter to A. A. Petrov-Agatov, “former member” of the Writers Union, 1 July 1977, written in connection with Petrov-Agatov’s denunciatory article “Liars and Pharisees” in Literaturnaya Gazeta, 2 February (see CCE 44.3).

[8] Adventist leader Shelkov to Belgrade Conference

Vladimir A. Shelkov: Appeal to the Representatives of the States Participating in the Belgrade Conference.

The chairman of the All-Union Church of True and Free Seventh-Day Adventists describes the persecution of Adventists in the USSR — the searches of believers’ houses, the breaking up of prayer-meetings, the persecution of parents for the religious education of their children, and persecution for refusal to carry weapons in the army,

[9] Baptist mothers to Soviet authorities

(4,030 Signatures) Open Letter from Christian mothers (Evangelical Christian-Baptists) to the Soviet Authorities and all People of Goodwill, 20 May 1977.

This tells of [the plight of] Baptist military conscripts; it describes the forcible incarceration of Baptist children in special schools and boarding-schools; and it tells how in divorces, children are taken away from their religious mother and handed over to their atheist father.

The signatories come from 139 places in the Soviet Union.

[10] Gleb Yakunin et al. about new Soviet Constitution

G. Yakunin, V. Khaibulin, V. Kapitanchuk: An Appeal to the Bishops and Representatives of the Christian Churches [in the USSR], 3 June 1977. In response to the publication of the draft Constitution, the members of the Christian Committee for the Defence of Believers’ Rights in the USSR write:

“In this way, every religious believer in our country is forced — as a citizen, by law -— to participate in activities contrary to his religious conscience. Because of this, a tormenting question springs to mind: how should a Christian behave in this new historical situation?

“Realizing the difficult position of official leaders of the Christian Churches in the USSR and feeling a deep need to hear the communal voice of the Church, we call on you to issue an authoritative statement.

“We also call on all those to whom the fate of Christianity in our country is important, to speak out in support of their brethren in the Soviet Union.”

[11] Gleb Yakunin et al. to Patriarch Pimen

G. Yakunin, V. Khaibulin, V. Kapitanchuk: “A Plea to the Patriarch of All Russia, Pimen”, 11 June 1977. The authors ask for an end to the provocative activities of interpreter Alexander Shushpanov, an employee of the Department of Church Foreign Relations, which are “incompatible with work in a church organization”.

“In particular, he has offered his services as a go-between and persistently tried to establish links between the Christian Committee for the Defence of Believers’ Rights in the USSR and officials of the American Embassy in Moscow … .

“He has played the role of a provocateur in relation to the Orthodox Christians, Alexander Ogorodnikov and his friends …”

[12] Udam appeal to Helsinki Groups

E. Udam: Appeal to the Moscow and Lithuanian Helsinki Groups, 26 May 1977 (six pp).

Erik Udam (b. 1938) is a resident of Tallinn and a former political prisoner. He was imprisoned from 1955 to 1961 and from 1962 to 1966; in 1966 he was released following a special review by the Supreme Court of the Estonian SSR, “for lack of a corpus delicti”. His appeal begins with the story of how in March 1975 he had discovered a secret listening device next to his flat and had hidden it.

On 25 March 1975 he was summoned for interrogation in connection with “the case of the Estonian Democratic Movement”. At the same time a search was carried out at his flat (CCE 35). During the interrogation he was told that “an important transmitter of civil defence” had disappeared at his house.

A few days later KGB Major Albert Molok talked to the accused.

“He suggested that 1 should give up an object which he did not specify by name. After some discussion we came to an agreement that 1 would give him the object he wanted, while he would make sure that I was not mixed up any more in the Democrats’ case and would be given permission to travel to Hungary.”

Udam returned the listening device. He was not bothered any more in connection with the ‘Democrats’ case. He was not given permission to travel.

Molok suggested to Udam that he should cooperate by working for the KGB. Udam refused. In April 1977 Molok had three conversations with Udam.

“Major Albert Molok suggested that I should become a well-known dissident and organize a dissident group. He promised to give me money to cover the needs of the organization ,. .

“Major Molok’s suggestion was that these dissidents should give information, dictated to them by the KGB, to foreign journalists in their own name. I could pick the group myself but would have to obtain the agreement of the KGB …

“I in my turn suggested to Molok that I should organize a group to monitor the Helsinki Agreement together with the Finns . , , Molok did not approve of my suggestion, saying that there was no point in getting mixed up with the Finns. We had to establish links with the Americans, he said, as they were the ones who had money for dissidents, and we would have to swindle this money out of them. If it came off, he said, you’ll get 50 per cent of the money, and 50 per cent will go to the State …

“When I turned down Molok’s offer, he asked me if I could recommend someone to him who would accept his suggestion. I said that I could not recommend such a great deception to anyone.”