The Arrest of Yakir, 21 June 1972 (26.1)

<<No 26 : 5 July 1972>>

On 21 June 1972, Pyotr Ionovich YAKIR was arrested in Moscow.

P.I. Yakir (b. 1923) is the son of General Iona Emanuilovich Yakir, a hero of the civil war, who was executed by Stalin; he served 17 years (from 1937 to 1954) in Stalin s prisons and camps. P. I. Yakir is a member of the ACTION GROUP for the Defence of Human Rights in the USSR.”

On the afternoon of 21 June, when P. I. Yakir went outside during his lunch-hour, he was bundled into a car and driven off. Approximately one hour later, the same squad of KGB men who had conducted searches of Yakir’s flat on 14 January (CCE 24) and 6 May 1972 (CCE 25) came to fetch Yakir’s wife Valentina Ivanovna Savenkova at her place of work. The squad drove Savenkova to her home and carried out a search, the third this year. The search warrant indicated Article 70 of the Russian Criminal Code. The search lasted lour hours. Only V.I. Savenkova was present at the search. Several citizens who wished to be present (in particular Yakir’s son-in-law Yuly Kim [husband of Irina Yakir] and Academician A.D. Sakharov) were not allowed into the flat. On the same day searches were also carried out at the workplaces of Yakir and his wife. None of Yakir s family has seen the records of these searches. The Chronicle too knows nothing about them.

On the evening of 21 June KGB investigator Major Gennady Vasilyevich Kislykh telephoned V.I. Savenkova and informed her that P.I. Yakir had been arrested, that he had been charged under Article 70 of the Russian Criminal Code, and that he was in the Lefortovo KGB investigation Prison. Incidentally, official sources had told foreign correspondents in Moscow during the day that P. I. Yakir had been arrested for “anti-constitutional activities” [note 1] and charged under Articles 70 and 210 (“the inducement of minors to criminal activity) of the Code”).

V.I. Savenkova appealed to the USSR Procurator-General to commute the suppressive measure taken against P.I. Yakir to, for instance, a signed statement no: to leave the city. On 1 July, the Action Group for the Defence of Human Rights in the USSR addressed a similar appeal to the USSR Procurator-General. The Action Group’s letter says, amongst other things [note 2]:

“. . the public activities of Pyotr Yakir originate entirely in the idea of the de-Stalinisation of our society, Yakir’s anti-Stalinism is organically linked with his biography, his professional knowledge of our history, and his uncompromising attitude to soc d evil. The activities of Yakir reflect his convictions and are utterly selfless.

“Yakir’s sole aspiration v is to further the democratization of our society …”

No reply has yet been received to these letters.


A letter signed by a “Group of Soviet citizens” and dated June 1972 says, amongst other things:

“Pyotr Yakir has been thrown into gaol.

“The authorities have resolved to add a new, sombre page to the tragic fate of one of our most remarkable contemporaries, a man of rare civic talent, great fortitude of spirit, indomitable energy and unswerving courage.

This is yet another stage – perhaps the culminating point in the tactical campaign of creeping but systematic repressions which the regime has been conducting for several years now in an attempt to stifle the democratic movement.

“One can and should protest against this action. What is more important, though, is to understand the essence of the new situation, and intensively and without hysteria (whether it be the hysteria of the bayonet-charge or the hysteria of capitulation) to adapt the life and methods of struggle of every democrat, and consequently of the entire movement, to the reality of the present.

“The arrest of Yakir, a man who consciously placed himself at the spearhead of the struggle, does not mean that ‘all is lost’, that the authorities have achieved a victory with their policy.

“… The arrest of Yakir is neither a beginning nor an end: it is an important landmark.

“… to preserve people and to preserve samizdat, to preserve and strengthen the movement for democratization  – that is the chief aim today, that is the best answer to the arrest of Yakir …”



[1] Compromising allegations were made in the detailing of these activities and were carried in western news reports the next day.

[2] Longer extracts were given in a Reuter dispatch dated 9 July. This listed the signatories as T. Velikanova, S. Kovalyov, A, Lavut, G. Podyapolsky, T. Khodorovich, A. Yakobson, and V. Krasin. See also an article on Yakir’s arrest by Yury Shtein, a member of the Action Group now abroad, in Possev 8, 1972. On the Group see Reddaway, chap. 7 and CCE //