Political Prisoner’s Day
30 October was declared “Political Prisoner Day” by the Moscow Helsinki Group (Document No. 66 [see CCE 51.20]):
“We emphasize especially: the majority of political prisoners in the USSR are prisoners of conscience, who have not in fact committed any crimes… The fulfilment of the international obligations established by the Helsinki Final Act demands the repeal of Articles 70, 190-1 and that part of Article 64 which allows persecution of people for their beliefs and for attempting to leave the country…
“Until political prisoners — prisoners of conscience — are freed, all the guarantees of human rights expressed in the [UN] Covenants on Human Rights and the Helsinki Final Act will remain a mere verbal declaration.”
The statement was signed by A. Sakharov, L. Boitsova (Kovalyova), N. Buzyreva (Fyodorova), Irina Valitova (Orlova), Irina Zholkovskaya (Ginzburg), Nina Strokatova (Karavanskaya), A. Lavut, T. Velikanova, Father G. Yakunin, V. Kapitanchuk, V. Bakhmin, L. Ternovsky, G. Vladimov, Yu. Yarym-Agayev, A. Khlgatyan.
On the same day, the traditional press conference was held in A. Sakharov’s flat in Moscow (CCEs 33, 38, 43, 47).
The [foreign] correspondents were given the statement cited above and two further documents drawn up specially for this day by the Moscow Helsinki Group; “On Medical Provision for Political Prisoners” (Document No. 67) and “On the Position of Political Prisoners Regarding Correspondence” (Document No. 68). Sakharov handed over a letter from Mordovian Camp No. 1 (see “Letters and Statements of Political Prisoners”). At the press conference Leonid Shcharansky, Irina Zholkovskaya and Ivan Kovalyov spoke on the conditions of their relatives. A. Khlgatyan gave a statement about Robert Nazaryan. Malva Landa gave the correspondents G. Davydov’s statement “I am against Terror” (see “Letters and Statements”).
Items Related to the Summer Trials (CCE 50)
At the end of March Alexander Ginzburg’s wife, Irina Zholkovskaya, unexpectedly had her phone connected (it had not been working for 21 months). At the end of May it was equally suddenly disconnected. At the same time Ginzburg’s mother, L.I. Ginzburg, also had her telephone disconnected.
In May, 18-year-old Sergei Shibayev, a close friend of the Ginzburgs who had lived with the family for many years (CCE 45), was called up for the Army. On 18 May he was due to present himself with his gear at the Military Registration and Enlistment Office.
On 14 May he was taken to hospital (the 64th Moscow Hospital) with signs of concussion. Two spinal punctures were administered and on 19 May, two days after the second puncture, he was unexpectedly discharged from hospital. Hospital officials, deceiving the friends who had come to fetch him, took him out through another exit, where some people calling themselves officials of the Moscow Crime Department met him and took him under escort to the station, from where they took him to Kaluga. In the train the boy started to feel ill but his escorts just laughed at him. At Kaluga Shibayev was handed call-up papers for 22 May and threatened with “time” if he did not appear. In a very sick condition Shibayev returned immediately to Moscow.
The next day, 20 May, he was taken by ambulance to hospital and remained there for a month.
In August Shibayev tried to re-enrol at the Moscow Professional Technical College [PTC] from which he had been transferred to Kaluga a year previously (formally — at his mother’s request), but he was turned down on medical grounds: “Unfit for training to be a roof-tiler at PTC No. 68 in accordance with Articles 23 and 15.”
In October Shibayev was called up. He was sent to the north of Yakutia, to a building battalion. He was assigned to work with concrete.
The American violinist Daniel Heifetz, who came fourth in the Tchaikovsky Competition in Moscow, gave his prize money to Irina Zholkovskaya for the Aid Fund for Political Prisoners.
They say that in the Third Reich the following custom existed: the relatives of prisoners condemned to death were officially presented with a bill for the expenses incurred by the execution.
I do not know the details of this obsolete and foreign practice, but I can, from my experience of life in our country, give a much fresher example of administrative resourcefulness.
Nearly two years ago the KGB arrested my husband. Before the arrest came a “search” which resembled nothing so much as a commonplace robbery. Everything remotely valuable — the tape-recorder, the record player, and money — was taken away, and our family was left with … 38 kopecks to live on (!). For 17 months the “organs” held my husband, a very sick man, in Kaluga Prison, working out the scenario of “justice”; then, muddled and confused, they staged a four-day mockery of a show for him. But just before they raised the curtain, they ordered A. Ginzburg to pay 1,500 roubles in so-called costs for all the mockery and torment he had suffered.
Yet even that was not enough for them.
According to Soviet law, whether one approves of it or not, these costs are taken out of the money earned by prisoners over the whole period of their camp sentence. All the same, disregarding the laws of their own making, the authorities confronted me with the demand, at the end of October, that I immediately bring them these 1,500 roubles, and threatened me, in the event of non-compliance, with confiscation of property.
It seemed that I was faced with an impossible choice.
If I paid the sum demanded I could have saved my husband a part of that meagre pittance paid in camps which is vitally essential in those circumstances. But at the same time, to give up that money meant giving in to illegal, vulgar blackmail. Anyway, the choice was theoretical since I had no money to give or not to give. I earn a negligible salary, and have two small sons on my hands, and A. Ginzburg’s 70-year-old mother lives on a tiny pension. In addition, we have an enormous debt (2,500 roubles) for our house in Tarusa (13 sq. metres) which my husband, on his release in 1972, was obliged to buy, since the authorities refused to let him live with his family in Moscow.
There seemed to be no way out of the situation and I simply did not know what to do.
The solution came from outside. Dozens of people, both friends and strangers, on learning about our plight, treated it as their own. Not one of them believed the officially inspired slander which held that our family was capable of using the resources of the Public Aid Fund for Political Prisoners for our personal needs. In a few days they had collected the necessary sum, and my husband’s lawyer E. A. Reznikova handed it to the court officials.
Let our persecutors have the money. Let them have power, strength, our very physical existence in their hands. All the same they have suffered defeat, for that wave of mercy which rose to meet their violence cannot be valued in any material way.
And they have suffered defeat on that higher level where the violator always loses to the victim, even if he himself is unaware of it. They have suffered defeat because the spirit of envy, fear and evil torments them. And human trust and goodness surround my family.
Trust and goodness saved our family in days that were terrible for us. And I wish to bow low to them.”
Irina Zholkovskaya (Ginzburg), 16 November 1978
When the trial of A. Shcharansky ended, his relatives were given papers addressed to Povarenkov, the head of Lefortovo Prison, which gave Shcharansky’s mother, father and brother permission to visit him. At Lefortovo, the following schedule of visits was suggested to Shcharansky’s mother: she could see her son for three hours the next day, 18 July, and Shcharansky’s father and brother could see him in turn on the following two days, also for three hours each.
On 18 July Ida Petrovna Milgrom arrived at the prearranged time. She was taken into an empty room and asked to wait for a while. More than two and a half hours passed. Eventually she was taken into the prison building. The visit lasted 25 minutes. It took place in the presence of Povarenkov and an unknown man in plain clothes, Shcharansky wanted Povarenkov to pass his mother a list of books and other articles which he would need before his departure to a transit prison. When the meeting was over Povarenkov did not give the list to Milgrom — he promised to give it to Shcharansky’s father the next day during the latter’s visit to his son.
On 19 July, when Shcharansky’s relatives arrived for the visit, they were told that he had left at 6 pm for his place of punishment. Relatives’ complaints to the Main Administration for Corrective Labour Institutions [MACLI], with the request to grant his father and brother their legal right to visit Shcharansky and take him his possessions did not help, MACLI simply informed them that Shcharansky had been taken to Vladimir Prison on 19 July.
In reply to I.P. Milgrom’s complaint to the party Central Committee, the First Deputy Procurator-General of the USSR, A, M. Rekunkov, replied:
“Permission was given to Shcharansky’s mother, father and brother to visit him. However, the father and brother did not appear on the appointed day, and the following morning he was transported to his place of punishment in accordance with his sentence.”
As a sign of protest against the sentence of Yury Orlov. Alexander Lyapin (see CCE 49.6) made an attempt to immolate himself on Red Square during the night of 24-25 May.
Policemen put out the flames and took Lyapin to a police station. In spite of his serious condition (25% of his skin was burnt) he was interrogated. The interrogators tried to determine who had “put Lyapin up to” setting fire to himself. After the interrogation, which lasted over an hour, Lyapin was taken to the reanimation section of the Sklifosovsky Institute.
The authorities classed the attempt at self-immolation as “malicious hooliganism” and charged Lyapin under Article 206 of the Russian Criminal Code. The court ruled him not responsible and sent him for compulsory treatment to an ordinary psychiatric hospital.
At the present time Lyapin is in Section 11 of the Third Leningrad Regional Psychiatric Hospital.
After D. Leontev had served his 15 days (he was arrested during the trial of Orlov, see CCE 50.1), his behaviour was discussed at the House of Culture of the “Red Textile Worker” factory where he works as a musician.
At the meeting there were cries of “CIA!”, “He (Orlov) was wearing foreign underpants!”, “Bonner —what a revolting name!”, etc.
Leontev said in reply that they had spent two and a half hours “discussing” his beliefs, which were not known to them, but had not said what they considered him guilty of. He had served 15 days for insubordination to the police, but for beliefs, as Brezhnev had said more than once, people were not persecuted in our country.
The meeting changed direction. “That’s a fact!’ “Why are we poking our noses into someone else’s business?”, “If his beliefs are wrong, the KGB will deal with that.” in conclusion, Leontev was made to promise that he would join the trades union (“Moreover, you’ll get full pay when you’re off sick”).
As a sign of protest against Orlov’s conviction, many American scientists have renounced their contacts with Soviet scientists. In particular, the Americans attended neither the Soviet-American Symposium on Condensates arranged for 22 May (because of this the symposium was cancelled), nor the Conference on Fields Calibration Theory which began on 23 May. In the auditorium where this conference took place, Academician Sakharov wrote on the board: “Our gratitude to those who, by their absence today, support justice.” (The board was immediately removed, although it was needed by the speakers.)
Members of the Moscow Helsinki Group, with S. Polikanov and A. Sakharov, in a letter addressed to the President of the USA National Academy of Sciences, P. Handler, and the Director of the Federation of American Scientists, J. Stone, approved such refusals of contacts inspired “not by the absence of a desire to cooperate professionally, but by spontaneous indignation at the farcical trial of Professor Orlov, and by a desire to prevent analogous reprisals against A. Ginzburg and A. Shcharansky.”.
From 20 to 30 August the 14th International Genetics Congress took place in Moscow. The delegation from Israel was absent — in protest at the conviction of Shcharansky. An official delegation of US scientists was likewise absent.From 20 to 30 August the 14th International Genetics Congress took place in Moscow. The delegation from Israel was absent — in protest at the conviction of Shcharansky. An official delegation of US scientists was likewise absent.
In the USA, the Moscow Congress Boycott Committee was set up several months before the congress began: a number of eminent American geneticists joined, including several Nobel Prize winners, The Committee expressed concern over the recent trials of members of Helsinki Groups and called for solidarity with the accused (especially the scientists Yu. Orlov and A. Shcharansky) by non-participation in the congress. Hundreds of American scientists sent letters of refusal to participate on political grounds.
A short while before the congress opened, a number of geneticists received an appeal by Ivan Kovalyov (see “Letters and Statements”).
On the very first day of the congress, during the ceremonial session in the Kremlin Palace of Congresses, the French scientist J. Lejeune drew attention, in his address, to the question of human rights. After his address, members of the French delegation tried to circulate material on Sergei Kovalyov among their Soviet colleagues. On the second day, F.J. Ayala (USA) expressed his solidarity with the Israeli and other scientists who had felt unable to take part in the work of the congress. W. Hennig (W. Germany) began his address on the final day of the congress with an expression of solidarity with absent colleagues; he noted the concern of Western scientists with the question of human rights in the USSR. On the very last day two West European delegates tried to read an English translation of I, Kovalyov’s appeal to participants of the congress. Academician A.A. Bayev (who spent many years in Stalin’s camps) prevented this. J. Lejeune handed Academician D.K. Belyaev, whom the congress had voted President of the International Genetics Federation, a letter signed by about 50 participants of the congress. In the letter, concern was expressed over the fate of S. Kovalyov and other convicted scientists.
The final sessions were devoted to the scientific legacy of Nikolai Vavilov (1978 was the 90th anniversary of his birth). N.I. Vavilov’s portrait hung in the Palace of Congresses during the sessions. However, in the official papers given by both Soviet and foreign scientists, not a word was said about N, I. Vavilov’s fate and that of his colleagues, nor about the reasons why the 7th Genetics Congress was not held in Moscow in 1937-1938 (all the Soviet members of the Organizing Committee had been arrested — some were shot, many died in camps). Only Professor V.S. Kirpichnikov (CCE 38), at the opening of the symposium on “Problems of Evolution and Population Genetics” (second day of the congress), expressed the hope that no more scientists would suffer N. I. Vavilov’s fate.
The 30th Anniversary of the August  session of the All-Union Lenin Academy of Agricultural Sciences went unremarked.”
On 28 August stacks of leaflets were thrown from the top floors of the Moscow University building, where sessions of the congress were being held. They bore the words “Freedom for Orlov, Ginzburg and Shcharansky!” — in Russian and English. The leaflets had been duplicated from a stencil.
A Defence Committee for Biologist Prisoners of Conscience, founded in France (Chairman, Claude Caussanel), sent a letter to Alexandrov, the President of the USSR Academy of Sciences, asking him to assist in securing the release of Sergei Kovalyov on the basis of Article 100 of the Corrective Labour Code (release on the grounds of illness). An analogous letter, sent to Brezhnev and Alexandrov by the Committee, was signed by more than 600 biologists from 64 laboratories and universities in a number of countries. Around 200 biologists also signed a statement, at the request of the Committee, in which it was said that in view of the systematic persecution of people for their beliefs in the Soviet Union, they were refusing to take part in the 14th International Genetics Congress and also in any other event “organized by the authorities of a country which carries out police persecution and systematically violates human rights”.
During the first days of October leaflets appeared in Moscow University buildings with the text: “Freedom to the Champions of Human Rights” and (on the other side) — “Shame to the Prostituted Constitution”. Several hundred copies were distributed.
Uman (Cherkassy Region). During the spring political slogans painted in semi-fast colours appeared on the walls of several public buildings (for example the Town Soviet Executive Committee). One of them read: “The Little Land* is a Political Farce*. [• An historical name for the territory of the Ukraine.]
Moscow. On the evening of 13 September, a local policeman came to the flat of Yu.F. Orlov. At the time only Orlov’s son (from his first marriage) Dmitry was present. The policeman asked D. Orlov if he knew the whereabouts of the occupier, I. Valitova; hearing that she was away, he told Orlov that he would have to “come along”. At the station, a record was drawn up claiming that D. Orlov, when requested to show his documents, had tried to run away. In fact, D. Orlov had shown his passport, and his “running away” consisted of his trying, after informing his escorts in advance, to run over to acquaintances in the neighbouring house and telephone home. Two days later D. Orlov was fined 20 roubles by a court for “insubordination” to a police official.
Moscow. On 30 May Yu.A. Gastev was summoned to the City Procuracy. Investigator G. V. Ponomaryov (CCEs 44, 45) told Gastev that his petition for the return of his papers and a typewriter belonging to A. D. Sakharov, which had been confiscated from Gastev during a search in 1976, could not be granted while the case against the Chronicle, which had necessitated the search, was still unfinished. Ponomaryov asked Gastev to inform “Comrade Sakharov” of this.
On 21 September, a local policeman came to Yu. A. Gastev’s home and took him to police station 58 — for another clarification of the question of his employment (CCEs 45, 48). At the station Gastev caught sight of the Deputy Head of Crime Prevention, Major Maximov, and wanted to talk to him immediately. But the Major told him that he was busy and said to the policemen; “Take him to the cells. Charge him with being found drunk in the street”. The next morning Investigator Tarantsov began to interrogate Gastev on the subject of charging him with “parasitism”. Gastev informed the Investigator that he was in the process of completing some work under contract, editing scientific literature. The Investigator telephoned the publishers and checked this, but detained Gastev for a further hour, Gastev’s question: “Why was a false record made about my detention?” remained unanswered.
On 26 September Gastev sent the Procurator of the Dzerzhinsky district of Moscow a statement:
“From the documents, copies of which were shown by me to Investigator Tarantsov of police station 58 (labour book, pay book and labour contracts Nos. 1/78 and 6/78), it is clear that the warning issued to me on 21 November 1977 has no legal force and that the initiation of proceedings against me under Article 209 of the Russian Criminal Code, and even more my detention, are illegal. I ask you to explain to the officials of police station 58 the incorrectness of their actions.”
Shortly afterwards Gastev was informed in the police station that the Procurator had not sanctioned the institution of criminal proceedings.
In October, a plenary meeting of the Board of the All-Union Society of Psychiatrists and Neurologists (ASPN) resolved to organize a commission to investigate events described by the psychiatrist A. Voloshanovich, in which in his opinion, compulsory hospitalization had taken place without valid grounds. (Alexander Voloshanovich Is a consultant to the Working Commission to Investigate the Use of Psychiatry for Political Purposes, CCE 50.) The ASPN commission was headed by a Vice-Chairman of the Board, Professor V. V. Kovalyov.
On 19 October, the commission visited Moscow Regional Hospital No. 20 (in Dolgoprudny) — Voloshanovich’s place of work. At the commission’s request, Voloshanovich listed for them the names and addresses of people he had examined, the addresses of the hospitals in which they had been held, and his conclusions.
On 25 October the Working Commission, in a statement to the press, welcomed the establishment of the ASPN commission, but expressed the fear that its activity “might not be free from the influence of other, non-psychiatric organizations, and might turn out to be an attempt to discredit the results of the examinations carried out by Alexander Voloshanovich”.
On 28 October the ASPN commission, in Voloshanovich’s presence, investigated the case of a certain “O”, whom Voloshanovich had observed in hospital in 1976 (i.e., before the Working Commission was set up). The commission did not permit Voloshanovich to study G’s case history in advance, and all the examples he gave of concrete violations of the Directives on Immediate Hospitalization were ignored. Voloshanovich then wrote a statement to the ASPN Board, pointing out the commission’s lack of conscientiousness and laying down conditions for his future participation in its work. Voloshanovich has received no answer to this statement (published in full in the Working Commission’s Information Bulletin No. 13).
Moscow. On 29 October, the flat where A.D. Sakharov lives was empty for 80 minutes. During this time unknown people entered the flat. They emptied a box of papers (and filled it with different papers so that the owners would not realize immediately), and also removed A. D. Sakharov’s dressing-gown and his wife’s spectacles.