The Trial of Barladyanu, June 1977 (46.3)

<<No 46 : 15 August 1977>>

On 27 June 1977 in the Odessa Regional Court, the trial began of Vasily Vladimirovich BARLADYANU (b. 1942), arrested on 2 March (CCE 44; see also CCE 45.8). The presiding judge was D. I. Kanevsky, and the prosecution was conducted by E. V. Zhantyk.

Vasily Barladyanu was charged with having in 1972-77 “systematically disseminated in oral and written form knowingly false, libellous fabrications, which defamed the Soviet political and social system, Soviet democracy, the Soviet nationalities policy and the Soviet way of life, also with having prepared handwritten and typewritten documents and photocopies of similar content” (Article 187-1 of the Ukrainian SSR Criminal Code, which corresponds to Article 190-1 of the RSFSR Code).


The small courtroom was filled by specially invited students of the Law Faculty at Odessa University (they said they had no idea what kind of trial they had been invited to), lecturers from the same faculty, and KGB officials. In spite of defence counsel’s efforts, out of the accused man’s relatives and friends only Vasily Barladyanu’s wife was allowed into the courtroom — and only for the second half of the hearing on 28 June. Appeals to the regional procurator’s office and the chairman of the regional court did not help.

On the same day, 27 June, Valentina Barladyanu, Leonid Tymchuk and N. Fyodorova were told categorically to be at work on the morning of 28 June. At 8 o’clock on the morning of 28 June N. Fyodorova found travel documents for a duty trip waiting for her at work.

The witness Budiyansky, formerly a member of the trade union committee at the time when Barladyanu was working at the university (CCE 41), gave evidence that in 1974 Barladyanu allowed himself to express anti-Soviet and nationalist sentiments.

The witness Makeyenko, head of the Philosophy Department at the Odessa Institute of Naval Engineering (CCE 41), testified that Barladyanu had made references to a book by Solzhenitsyn in his lectures. However, he could not answer a question from defence counsel as to which book it was. Makeyenko also stated that Barladyanu had asserted that cruelty was inherent in the Soviet system. When the lawyer asked if Barladyanu had spoken of particular cruelties committed under Soviet power or of the cruelty of the regime in general, Makeyenko replied that he had spoken of particular cruelties, but that in his opinion it all came to the same thing.

The witnesses Mosyuk and his wife Boiko testified that they had borrowed The First Circle and The Gulag Archipelago from Barladyanu.

Barladyanu’s father-in-law Pisanko testified that his son-in-law had spoken to him of possible acts of aggression by the Soviet army, as it was not based on the territorial principle as Lenin had recommended, Pisanko’s testimony on this subject was more definite at the pre-trial investigation — he had alleged that Barladyanu had spoken not of ‘possible’, but of actual aggression by the Soviet army.

Khokhlachev, a former student of Barladyanu’s, testified that in giving examples of cruelties committed in our country Barladyanu had referred to The Gulag Archipelago.

Evidence from Barladyanu’s former students Baklanova and Beletskaya was read out. Baklanova testified that Barladyanu had referred disrespectfully to Stalin and had denied his role as the organiser of the victory in the Great Fatherland War. According to Beletskaya, Barladyanu had said that the Russians were a domineering nation which oppressed the Moldavians and the Ukrainians. Barladyanu told the court that Baklanova and Beletskaya had been careless students, with whom he had had conflicts.

Anna Golumbievskaya was called as a witness by the court. Golumbievskaya entered the courtroom carrying a bouquet of carnations. She asked the presiding judge to allow the flowers “from those standing outside” to be given at Barladyanu, but she was refused. Golumbievskaya said that she had not given evidence at the pre-trial investigation — and she would not give any now either. She read out a prepared statement:

“Today Barladyanu is in the dock, tomorrow — according to our laws — I could be sitting there myself … I am not sure that, in giving evidence on Barladyanu’s case, I might not be giving evidence against myself. So I am making use of a defendant’s right to refrain from giving evidence.

“My second reason is as follows: Barladyanu is in the dock on charges of disseminating knowingly false fabrications . . . that shows contempt for human thought and human value . … To try Barladyanu means to try a mind which is struggling to discover the truth.

“I have hopes that Barladyanu’s trial, which should never have taken place anyway, will result in the triumph of respect for human worth, of man’s right to think, his right to explore untrodden paths, his right to share his thoughts with people like myself.”

Evidence by Rudenko (see “The Trial of Rudenko and Tikhy” CCE 46.4) was read out, stating that Vasily Barladyanu gave Rudenko his statements, poems and stories, and told him that he was being persecuted for his beliefs. In the evidence read out Rudenko stated that one of Barladyanu’s stories contained an anti-Soviet episode. “Nevertheless, I am convinced that Vasily Barladyanu is not an enemy of the Soviet system. His attacks on the Soviet regime can be explained by his persecution, by the infringement of his human rights.” Barladyanu protested against an appraisal of his works based on a quotation taken out of context.

The prosecutor proposed that a number of witnesses should not be called and that their evidence should not be read out; among these were Valentina Barladyanu and Vasily Barladyanu’s academic adviser, Shaikevich. The accused and the defence counsel asked the court to call these witnesses, as their testimony would give a different picture of Barladyanu’s character from that given by the witnesses who had already appeared. The court acceded to the prosecutor’s request but agreed to have Shaikevich’s evidence read out.

Barladyanu declared that not one of his requests had been granted; although it had been said that the hearing was open, his friends and acquaintances had not been allowed into the courtroom. “Up until now I have been on hunger strike. From today I refuse to take any water and will take any opportunity to put an end to my life,” (Barladyanu had been on hunger-strike since the day of his arrest — CCEs 44, 45).

Judge (replying): “We’ve already heard about this.”

During a survey of the ‘material evidence’, Barladyanu said that he had bought the anthology From Out of the Depths and a microfilm of Cancer Ward on the black market but had printed up Cancer Ward himself.

A recess was declared. Only after this interval was Valentina Barladyanu allowed into the courtroom.

The Prosecutor’s Speech

The charge against Barladyanu according to Article 187-1 is that he disseminated libellous fabrications in oral and written form, defaming the Soviet political and social system. The following witnesses have been questioned: Budiyansky, Mosyuk, Pisanko, Oryol, Khokhlachev and others, and they have affirmed in court that during 1974 to 1976 they heard Barladyanu express anti-Soviet and nationalist sentiments, which include dissatisfaction with the existing order, with Soviet courts and so on.

ft is true that in court the witnesses tried to tone down the testimony they had given during the pre-trial investigation, but this is no reason for doubting their truthfulness or credibility.

Barladyanu managed to send an appeal “To People of Goodwill” (see CCE 41) to the West; this was published in the USA.

Materials defaming our humane system, handwritten by Barladyanu, have been confiscated from various persons in Odessa and Kiev. In Kiev, a copy of the appeal “To People of Goodwill”, which was allegedly given to the Kiev Helsinki Monitoring Group by Barladyanu, was confiscated from O. Meshko, Anti-Soviet poems by Barladyanu were confiscated from Berdnik.

Barladyanu wrote and disseminated various declarations and letters in which he libelled Procurator Yasinsky of Odessa region.

Later the prosecutor listed books and articles confiscated from Barladyanu during a search in June 1976 (CCE 41), particularly the article by Berdyaev “The Spirit of the Russian Revolution” and pointed out that it was confiscated in numerous copies. He also named the ‘anti-Soviet’ anthology From out of the Depths and stated that Barladyanu had begun to type out Berdyaev’s article in it.

Barladyanu gave Mosyuk Solzhenitsyn’s First Circle and Gulag Archipelago to read (Mosyuk’s evidence), Barladyanu also spread slanderous fabrications by word of mouth. He cast aspersions on Soviet nationalities policy (according to the witness Beletskaya), allowing himself to make slanderous remarks about Stalin (according to witness Baklanova), slandered our Soviet army (according to witness Pisanko), defamed our Soviet way of life, and spoke of cruelties committed under Soviet power, referring to Solzhenitsyn’s Gulag Archipelago (according to the evidence given by Khokhlachev).

(Golumbievskaya: “He could also have referred to the Twenty-Second Party Congress! “ She was removed from the courtroom)… .

. . . Barladyanu considers that the residence regulations have been infringed more than once in his case. The investigation established that on his return from Kiev Barladyanu illegally registered as a resident in the village of Vasilevka. As he was not a collective farm worker, he did not have the right to register for residence in a house belonging to the collective farm. On this basis his registration was cancelled (see CCE 44).

Barladyanu is an amoral person. In 1974 he found it very easy to part from his wife and child in Odessa and travel to Kiev, where he married citizen Burova. In 1975 he found it just as easy to dissolve his marriage with Burova so that he could return to his first wife in Odessa.

During this trial Barladyanu has protested against the fact that his friends and acquaintances were not allowed into the courtroom.

In the first place, the courtroom is small and cannot accommodate all those wishing to attend. Secondly, let us see who these ‘acquaintances’ of Barladyanu’s are. They are people who have either already been convicted or are now facing criminal charges, people like Rudenko and Sery, who behave in the most shameful way, refusing to participate in the pre-trial investigation, misbehaving and hindering the work of the court. Why do his friends and acquaintances not include also his fellow lecturers from the university and the Naval Engineering Institute, his colleagues at the museums in which he worked? Well, because they are Soviet people and, instead of wandering about in courtroom corridors, they are busy with academic work and socially useful labour.

You saw citizen Golumbievskaya here, who turned up in court with flowers, trying to make out that Barladyanu was a martyr. The demand that citizen Golumbievskaya face a criminal charge for refusing to give evidence as a witness has been turned down, as the evidence collected in her case has already been designated as the basis for a separate prosecution….

The prosecutor asked that Barladyanu be given 3 years in ordinary- regime camps.

Speech of Defence Counsel

I agree with much of what has been said by the state prosecutor. Yes, my client did sometimes express himself too sharply about the Soviet system, Soviet courts and the nationalities question. I am sure that this is attributable in part to the fact that for a number of years the laws were in fact not observed with regard to my client and his relatives. We all know quite well that our laws are not that perfect, and if they have also been infringed, this could easily have been the basis for Barladyanu’s critical, perhaps too sharply critical, remarks on this subject. (This was helped by the influence of the people round him in Kiev and Odessa. Barladyanu is very easily influenced.)

As regards dissemination, I beg the court not to trust fully the evidence of witnesses like Mosyuk, who made statements during the pre-trial investigation which they could not repeat to Barladyanu’s face.

As for Barladyanu’s nationalistic remarks, I can only say: this is a time when any intense interest in some national culture leads straightaway to people asking; “But isn’t he a nationalist?” Barladyanu is a very emotional, easily aroused personality, so his interest in and knowledge of Ukrainian culture led to student circles discussing his so-called nationalistic views.

A few years later these students cannot remember accurately phrases Barladyanu uttered, and in contradictory testimony they speak of nationalism in general terms …

I cannot call Barladyanu amoral. We know that life is sometimes like this: you feel you really should leave your whole old life and begin anew — then everything will be different. Maybe that’s what happened to my client. Barladyanu had no flat, he had in effect no work, no residence permit, and so on . …

In conclusion I should like to say that Barladyanu is a man difficult to live with; difficult for his family, difficult for society and difficult for himself.

But if the sentence of the court is just, I am convinced that all his errors will be put aside and a poet, a man valued and needed by society, will return to us.

Final Statement by V. Barladyanu

. . . Much attention has been devoted to the evidence given by those students whom I expelled from the collective farm for infringing labour discipline. My friends and my wife have not been questioned in court at all.

As for my works, I insist that they contain no libel — they express my deep convictions and I am ready to defend them.

The letters and statements on infringements of the law, which were confiscated in Kiev, were sent chiefly to the regional procurator G. M. Yasinsky, but I did not receive a reply to any of them.

… I see nothing criminal in the fact that I passed on these statements to the Kiev Helsinki Group. The Constitution gives people the right to unite in various organizations, and as the Kiev Group was not an illegal organization, merely unregistered, I certainly had the right to do so.

. . . Therefore, I do not consider myself guilty and have nothing to repent of. I do not ask the court to show leniency to me or to mitigate my sentence.

In my statement addressed to Podgorny I renounced Soviet citizenship and asked for permission to emigrate — to any country where I would be given the opportunity of living a normal life and doing research work. But I never renounced my loyalty to the military oath, which is given only once in a lifetime. So, wherever I might be, I would always defend my Motherland if it were in military peril.

If I were given an opportunity to live and work normally in my Motherland, a possibility of being with my family, I would abandon academic work and engage in physical labour. During this trial I have had to observe academic people whose ethos is so corrupt that I don’t want to return to it. I know a number of languages and in my free time I could do translations, if they were published.


On 29 June 1977, the court pronounced sentence in accordance with the demands of the prosecutor. The court also adopted a separate resolution — to inform the headmaster of middle school 130 of Ilychevsky district in Odessa and the head of the Ilychevsky district department of education about the “unlawful actions of the teacher” Golumbievskaya, for “their appropriate reaction”.