Political Prisoners in Psychiatric Hospitals, July 1972 (26.5)

<<No 26 : 5 July 1972>>

Vladimir llych Trifonov (b. 1938 in the Kalinin Region [Central Russia]) — In 1966 Trifonov studied at the physics faculty of Kalinin Pedagogical Institute. He frequently argued with teachers in the department of political economy. As a result, a psychiatric examination was arranged for him. The examination lasted five minutes, and was carried out by a leading psychiatrist from the Kalinin Medical Institute, Victor Mikhailovich Shpak. On the basis of Shpak’s diagnosis Trifonov was expelled from the Institute. In March 1968 he was arrested for making “anti-Soviet statements”.

Six months later he was sent to the Leningrad Special Psychiatric Hospital, where he remains to this day. His mother’s address is: Kalininsk, Ostashkovsky district, Shirokovskoye post office, Orlinka village, Trifonova Vera llynichna.


Anatoly Dmitrievich Ponomaryov (b. Leningrad, 1933) — Worked as an engineer at the Leningrad branch of the All-Union Research Institute of Medical Instrument Design. In October 1970 he was taken into custody and criminal proceedings were instituted against him under Article 190-1 of the Russian Criminal Code for the circulation of satirical verses by himself and the re-typing of Solzhenitsyn‘s [1967] letter to the Writers Congress [note 1]. An examination held in Psychiatric Hospital No. 2 on Pryazhka Street [note 2] found Ponomaryov of unsound mind.

On 29 January 1971, the Leningrad City Court sent him to the Leningrad SPH for compulsory treatment. Since 11 March 1971 he has been in this hospital. The address of his family is: Leningrad, Lesnoi Avenue 34/36, flat 125.


Anatoly Fyodorovich Chinnov (b. 1938) — In 1967 he graduated from the Chemistry Faculty of Leningrad University. In December 1968 he was arrested for attempting to cross the frontier. At the beginning of 1969, a psychiatric commission in the city of Lvov found him of sound mind, At the end of 1969 Chinnov was subjected to a second psychiatric examination in the Serbsky Institute of Forensic Psychiatry. The diagnosis was schizophrenia.

At the present time Chinnov is in the Leningrad Special Psychiatric Hospital. His brother’s address is: Moskva Zh-4, 2 Mayakovsky St, flat 27, Chinnov Valery Fyodorovich. Sister’s address: Leningrad V-48, 68 15th liniya, flat 9, Chinnova Raisa Fyodorovna.


Yury Belov

In April 1967, Yury Sergeyevich Belov was sentenced under pt. 2 of Article 70 of the Russian Criminal Code to five years in special-regime camps. He served his term first in Camp 10 in Mordovia, then in Vladimir Prison. In the autumn of 1971 new proceedings — the third! — were instituted against Belov, once again under Article 70 (for “agitation inside the prison”). From December 1971 to February 1972, he was under examination in the Serbsky Institute of Forensic Psychiatry and was found to be of unsound mind.

In May 1972 Belov was transported from Vladimir Prison to the Special Psychiatric Hospital in the town of Sychovka in the Smolensk Region.


In 1971, Vladimir Shlepnyov was tried in Moscow. He was charged under Articles 64 (“betrayal of the Motherland”) and 15 (“responsibility for preparation of a crime, or for an attempted crime”) of the Russian Criminal Code. His “attempt” to “betray the fatherland” had consisted in “endeavouring to cross the frontier illegally”.

The court sent him to the Kazan SPH (see CCE 10.10) for compulsory treatment.


At the beginning of June, the Leningrad City Court changed its ruling of compulsory treatment for Yevgeny Viktorovich Shashenkov (CCE 5 and CCE 18.1) and Vladimir Vasilyevich Popov (see CCE 18.1) in a Special Psychiatric Hospital and ordered compulsory treatment in a hospital of ordinary type.


It was reported in CCE 25 that a diagnostic commission at the Serbsky Institute had found [August 1968 Red Square demonstrator] Victor Fainberg of sound mind. Later, however, a new court ruling arrived at the Leningrad Special Psychiatric Hospital where Fainberg was awaiting the hearing: “V. Fainberg requires compulsory treatment in a hospital of the ordinary type for a period of four to five months” [note 3].


On 29 June Pyotr Grigorevich Grigorenko [note 4] underwent one of his regular [six-monthly] psychiatric examinations. The commission resolved to extend the term of compulsory treatment.



See Commentary 26 for the contemporary “intense controversy” in the West.

[1]. “Literature that is not the breath of contemporary society, that dares not transmit the pains and fears of that society, that does not warn in time against threatening moral and social dangers — such literature does not deserve the name of literature; it is only a façade. Such literature loses the confidence of its own people, and its published works are used as wastepaper instead of being read,” from Solzhenitsyn’s 16 May 1967 Open letter to the 4th Congress of the Union of Soviet Writers (it was only the third time that writers were meeting since Stalin’s death).

The full text of Solzhenitsyn’s demand for an end to censorship and denunciation of the shameful past and present of the Writers’ Union in English translation is in L. Labedz, Solzhenitsyn : A Documentary Record ( Penguin, 1972).

[2] The official address of this hospital is: 126, Moika River Embankment, Leningrad.

[3] See extracts from Academician Sakharov’s protest of 1 August 1972 against this ‘’astonishing ruling” and against Borisov’s continued imprisonment. The appeal, widely reported in the world press on 3 August, was addressed to Minister of Health B.V. Petrovsky: “Without your intervention, as well as that of the world public, no force is capable of saving them”.

On 11 September 1972, 36 prominent British personalities, including Lord Gardiner and Bishop Trevor Huddleston, interceded for the two men (and also for Greek poet Alexandros Panagoulis) in a long letter to The Times.

[4] “Grigorenko’s remarkable writings are due to be published in book form later this year by the Alexander Herzen Foundation, Amsterdam, under the title Mysli sumasshedshego (Thoughts of a Madman).”