The trial of Starchik, December 1972 (28.5)

<<No 28 : 31 December 1972>>

The trial of Pyotr Petrovich Starchik (see CCE 25.2) was held on 14 December 1972 in the Moscow City Court.

Starchik (b. 1939) is married with two children, aged seven and one-and-a half. He finished two years of study in the psychology department of Moscow University and worked as a laboratory assistant at the Psychology Institute of the USSR Academy of Pedagogical Sciences. He was arrested in the spring of 1972.

Pyotr Starchik, b. 1939


The judge was Bogdanov, the people’s assessors were Sarayeva and Travkina, the procurator was Yermakov and the defence counsel was Rausov (who previously defended R. Fin [CCE 18.10, item 8; and CCE 22.8, item 12]). Rausov was appointed by the Collegium of Barristers: the barrister Simeon Ariya, who had been retained by Starchik’s wife to handle the case, withdrew after signing Article 201 (owing to the “absence of enough material on which to base a speech for the defence”). The trial was open, although the day before the Judge had said that it would be closed, and it was not clear whether the accused’s wife would be allowed to attend. Starchik was charged under Article 70 of the RSFSR criminal code.

Starchik was accused of the massive dissemination of many hundreds of anti-Soviet leaflets which contained an appeal for the overthrow of the “dictatorship of the Party” and carried a “five-pointed swastika” as an emblem, and of having executed inscriptions of similar content in public places. The search at his home had turned up “anti-Soviet literature” (mention was made of Djilas’s The New Class, Amalrik’s Will the Soviet Union Survive until 1984?, and 41 copies of the “libellous Journal Chronicle”, including 14 copies of CCE 19). Lyakhov [note 1], a friend of Starchik’s from student days ’ who had been interrogated as a pre-trial witness, confirmed in court that he had received some kind of literature from Starchik (he did not specify the titles; his home had also been searched), but he knew nothing about the inscriptions or the leaflets.

There were also two female witnesses — art school students who on 15 April 1972 had seen a person resembling Starchik leave a bundle of leaflets in the Dzerzhinskaya metro station. They had delivered the leaflets to a police station without reading them.

Starchik himself was not present at the trial: a commission of psychiatrists (the third — two preceding commissions had reported ambiguous conclusions) had ruled him non-responsible. Its report, as also that of an expert commission of criminologists, was not read aloud at the trial; no experts were present in court.

After a brief presentation of the indictment the procurator proposed that Starchik be exempted from criminal liability and sent to a Special Psychiatric Hospital for treatment. Defence counsel stated that he would not be able to defend his client if he were ruled to be accountable, as the charges had been proven (literally: “Since Starchik’s anti-Soviet attitudes have been completely proved, there exists every ground for trying him under Article 70”). He supported the request that Starchik be sent to a hospital (without specifying which type).


In its decision (Special Psychiatric Hospital) the court repeated the indictment, indicated the diagnosis (sluggish schizophrenia), and in part indicated the reasons why he had been sent for psychiatric examination: “he would lie naked on the floor” (Starchik did yoga exercises), his religious beliefs, and the rudeness of his attitude towards the investigators (he said that in 10 years the investigators would be sitting in his place, and then refused to testify).



[1] Spelt Liikhov in CCEs 25 and 26, with the first names Vasily Ivanovich.