On the Trial of Yu. Orlov (51.20)

<<No 51 : 1 December 1978>>

S. Polikanov (14 May 1978)

On the eve of the trial of Yu. Orlov, Corresponding Member of the USSR Academy of Sciences S. Polikanov appealed to scientific and cultural figures in various countries, calling on them to “speak out decisively and immediately in defence of Yury Orlov and Alexander Ginzburg”.

N. Fyodorova (17 May 1978)

On the day following Dr Yemelyanova’s testimony at the trial of Yu. Orlov, the wife of Yury Fyodorov, the “aeroplane man’ imprisoned in Mordovian Camp No. 1, made a statement contradicting Yemelyanova’s evidence:

“My husband, Yury Pavlovich Fyodorov, has spent eight years in a special-regime camp in Mordovia. He has been constantly ill throughout these eight years. Dr Yemelyanova has been the camp doctor for about a year.

“During this time, she has personally sent Fyodorov to hospital five times. At the moment he is in hospital for the sixth time on her orders. The following illnesses are listed on his medical card: chronic nephritis, gastritis, rheumatism of the knee, chronic conjunctivitis. He is 185 cm tall and weighs 57 kg. So Dr Yemelyanova gave perjured evidence in court that Fyodorov is perfectly healthy!

“Evidently Dr Yemelyanova gave similarly ‘truthful’ evidence with regard to other prisoners too.”

Yury ORLOV, 1924-2020

M. Landa: “Addition to the Record”

Member of the Moscow Helsinki Group Malva Landa, using the extensive factual material available to her, states that the three camp doctors and two prisoners who appeared at the trial of Yu. Orlov were false witnesses.

Landa also exposes the testimony of doctors from the Dnepropetrovsk Special Psychiatric Hospital concerning Leonid Plyushch. She recalls L. Plyushch’s wife’s descriptions of the humiliating visiting conditions and of the horror which Plyushch experienced on seeing his ‘doctor’ Lyubarskaya (at the trial, Lyubarskaya testified that she and Plyushch had a good relationship).


Yu. Belov: “To Judge Valentina Lubentsova” (18 May 1978)

On the day the trial of Yu. Orlov ended, Yury Belov (CCE 48.12) sent a letter to Judge Lubentsova:

“The first problem is, How I address you. ‘Comrade’? An executioner and a victim cannot be comrades. ‘Citizen’? Citizens respect the laws of their country; they have an inherent sense of responsibility. You do not carry this burden … So let me say:

“Madame Judge!

“Today you took upon yourself personally the blame for a cynical act of tyranny. Today you destroyed the faith of thousands and thousands of Soviet citizens in Soviet law.

“Even Adolf Hitler did not attack the principle of free speech in court. Georgy Dimitrov was an enemy of fascism, but he was not gagged in court, he was not denied defence witnesses. The court set out to prove his guilt and the court PROVED that he was innocent.

“Tell your friends in the KGB that they have only succeeded in undermining the faith of the whole of the civilized world in the sincerity of the talk about peace and detente … The real face of your system was shown up at the trial in Lyublino.

“And now I cannot offer you anything but pity. I pray to God for you, that you may repent and recognize your shame.”


G. Vladimov (19 May 1978)

“Yury Orlov has doubly fulfilled his heroic mission — as an irrepressible exposer of social lies and as the victim of a trial which only through excessive politeness could be called a legal proceeding. This very comedy of a trial, a sinister comedy, is yet another exposure — it has shown the world that those who lead and govern us have completely freed themselves from the inferiority complex inherent in any government which is conscientious and responsible before its people. Not so long ago they at least felt themselves partly to blame for sufferings whose like had not occurred in the history of any other nation; now they feel this no longer.

“We can be in no doubt that Ginzburg and Shcharansky will be tried in the same merciless way and that we can expect new arrests and trials — as well as new, triumphal, humane promises, so beautiful on paper that it won’t even be necessary to carry them out. The face of these lovers of law is taking on an ever clearer outline in the eyes of the world; they dare to employ the sternest measures in order to silence our awakening consciousness. But do they themselves understand that they have never been further from their goal, and so close to defeat, as they are today, the second morning after their glowing ‘victory’?”

V. Kuvakin (21 May 1978)

“… For four days a trial took place in Moscow; it was unprecedented not only on account of its content, but also because of the way in which it was conducted. There was probably no judicial principle, no judicial guarantee of the right to defend oneself from groundless charges, that was not violated by the kangaroo court which tried Yury Orlov.”

J. MacDonald: “Appeal” (23 May 1978)

The British lawyer J. MacDonald, with the full authority of Yu. Orlov’s wife ( CCE 45), sent an appeal to the Russian Supreme Court. In the appeal it is argued that the verdict in Orlov’s case should be revoked, on the grounds that the Moscow City Court did not prove that Orlov acted with direct intent to undermine or weaken the Soviet system and that the court continually violated Orlov’s right to defend himself: the Judge stopped Orlov from questioning witnesses, interrupted Orlov during his defence speech, allowed those in the courtroom audience to insult him, and did not allow him to read out the documents of the Moscow Helsinki Group with which he was charged.

Furthermore, both the pre-trial and the court investigations were unobjective and incomplete: the court rejected all of Orlov’s petitions regarding the summoning of additional witnesses, did not call Orlov’s co-authors of the Moscow Helsinki Group documents to give evidence, did not include in the case file the testimony of Andrei Amalrik, Vladimir Bukovsky, Natalya Gorbanevskaya and Leonid Plyushch, sent by MacDonald as early as June 1977, nor the testimony of Marina Voikhanskaya and Gary Low-Beer.

I. Kovalyov: “Open letter to A. Kulikov, correspondent of Moscow Pravda” (May 1978)

Ivan Kovalyov ironically demolishes the version of events during and surrounding the trial of Orlov, given in Kulikov’s article. For example, he writes:

“Who’s saying that the doors were locked during an open trial and that a cordon of police let no one through? Aren’t you familiar with the Soviet way of life, don’t you know yet how one must behave? Take away that cordon and our simple Soviet people will tear that Orlov to pieces, and there will be no need for a trial.

“Who says that Orlov’s ‘documents’ are the documents of a whole group and that there are several more groups like it in the country, that they are all monitoring the observance of the Helsinki Agreements? The slanderers have overreached themselves — as we observe, so we will monitor — no groups are necessary. There was no mention of the group during the trial and no word of it in Kulikov’s article, so that means there is no group, Orlov himself invented it.”

S. Polikanov: “Some Reflections on Letters from Confused Readers” (14 June 1978)

The author notes that the unity of the workers was manifested even in the textual similarities of the letters published in various newspapers (N. Chernov’s letter in Evening Moscow and V. Pavlovsky’s letter in Moscow Pravda). After quoting the comments about Orlov made by Academician Tselikov (“This, by your leave, ‘scientist’ …”) and Academician Kolotyrkin (“A so-called scientist … Once a Doctor of Sciences, a physicist”), Polikanov writes:

“It is difficult now to remember who Kolotyrkin and Tselikov were in the past, but at present one can recommend only one thing to them: From now on, don’t make so many rash statements about who was and who has remained a real scientist! Yury Fyodorovich [Orlov] is a well-known physicist, a genuinely learned man. He demonstrated this once again in prison, where he wrote scientific papers in almost total isolation.”

S. Polikanov (2 September 1978)

The author exposes as false the testimony of A.V. Lebedev, a Senior Researcher at the Institute of Theoretical and Experimental Physics, who said at Orlov’s trial that “any Soviet physicist can publish freely, travel abroad to conferences and seminars, have free contact with foreign colleagues, whatever his views and beliefs”.