Activities of the Human Rights Committee (27.8)

<<No 27 : 15 October 1972>>

On 4 September 1972, member of the Human Rights Committee Valery Chalidze sent the Committee a letter [note1]:

“I am announcing my retirement from the Human Rights Committee. It would appear that I am too exhausted to continue to carry out the responsibilities which I took on myself when I became a member of the Committee. This does not mean that I do not intend to take any further interest in the Committee’s activities. On the contrary: I am concerned about its future, and as interested as before in problems of Human Rights. Fn this note I expound some of my ideas about the Committee, and I hope that what I have to say may prove useful to present and possibly also future members of the Committee. I imagine the committee will regard this statement as a document of the Committee and will publish it …

“In this country it is unusual and unconventional to form committees without a directive from above … For the Committee to exist requires great courage. The courage lies not in anticipating hypothetical repressive measures but in the ability to adhere to the proclaimed principles and ideas, regardless of the prejudices and criticisms of its many and sometimes very well-meaning opponents. . . From the outset the Committee found itself in a confusing position: some people thought that the Committee was aspiring to leadership of what they called the democratic movement; others hoped the Committee would become its leader; some believed that the formation of the Committee marked the birth of a political opposition in the USSR; while others marvelled at how intelligent people could embark on such a futile enterprise. Attempts to explain that the Committee was a creative association of people who wanted to study problems of Human Rights and to assist the authorities in developing a system of guarantees for these Human Rights … were taken as a cover for something else. People are too accustomed to hypocrisy …

“I remember the disappointment one of my friends after he had read my introductory report to the Committee: ‘I thought your “principles” were a screen concealing some struggle for freedom, but you really do want to concern yourselves with idle talk …”.’

“One needs intellectual courage in order not to allow prejudices to hamper one’s creative activity, if there are many people who expect of the Committee something which it has not promised, that is interesting more as a distressing social phenomenon than as a reason for altering the nature of the Committee’s activity … The social importance of the Committee’s example … lies, I feel, in its respect for its own principles and its consistent observance of its own procedures …”

On 7 September 1972, at a meeting, the Committee acknowledged receipt of the announcement by Chalidze of his retirement from the Committee. The Committee resolved to elect V. N. Chalidze a consultant of the Human Rights Committee [note 2]

On 5 October 1972, the Human Rights Committee elected Grigory Sergeyevich PODYAPOLSKY (see Chalidze Nos. 25, 26) a member of the Committee.

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NOTES

[1] The full texts of this and the preceding letter by Chalidze were published in Russkaya Mysl, 16 November and 28 September 1972, respectively. Also, for the letter to Andropov, see The Times, 27 September. Russia.

[2] In December, however, after being deprived of Soviet citizenship, Chalidze resigned his position as a consultant. r.arlitT he had been subjected to strong KGB pressures. See his accounts of some of these in a note to the Human Rights