Extra-Judicial Persecution (25.9)

<< No 25 : 20 May 1972 >>

A group of Crimean Tatars has sent a letter to the Central Committee of the Soviet Communist Party, the USSR Council of Ministers and the USSR Supreme Soviet, citing numerous facts relating to the local authorities’ oppression of Crimean Tatars returning to the Crimea: refusal to register them, the ban on residents selling their houses to Crimean Tatars, etc. The letter ends with a demand for an urgent solution of the nationalities’ problem with respect to the Crimean Tatar people, and the immediate release of General P. G. Grigorenko, a champion of the Crimean Tatar cause. The letter carries 743 signatures.


In July 1967 Professor R.I. Muzafarov, a Doctor of Philological Sciences and a Crimean Tatar by nationality was a member of a delegation of Crimean Tatars received by comrades Andropov, Shchelokov, Rudenko and Georgadze. This fact was the cause of his subsequent trials and tribulations. He was dismissed on one pretext or another from almost a dozen pedagogical institutes in the country two or three months after commencing work at them. Books and articles written by him – and he is the only specialist on Crimean Tatar philology in the country with a higher degree – are not printed.

One of his books had already been typeset lor the Kazan University Press but did not appear because it was based on Crimean Tatar materials. Another book which had been included in the the prospectus of the Gafur Gulyam publishing house of artistic literature subsequently turned out to be “outside the scope” of the publisher and was returned to the author. For over three years now the manuscript of his third book, “Crimean Tatar Proverbs”, favourably reviewed has been lying unopened in the Chief Editorial Office for Oriental Literature of the “Nauka” publishing house. In 1969 his review of “Essays on Crimean History” was held back by Glavlit even after it had been set up for the journal Novy mir. Finally, the central press has joined in the hounding of Professor Muzafarov. On 12 April 1972, the paper Labour [Trud] published an article by Yu. Baranov entitled “The Professor gets a fail”, in which Professor Muzafarov was depicted as a “rolling stone’ with a “colourful biography” and an “ignoramus” who had not written “a single article” for several years.

On 17 April Professor Muzafarov sent a letter to Brezhnev. Describing the story of his persecution, Muzafarov ended with the words:

“I would like to hope, respected Leonid Ilych, that the Central Committee will not only share my indignation at the whole of this shameful story – a story of the unprecedented victimization of a Soviet scholar for his public activities, which were aimed at the realization of the Leninist principles of [our] nationalities policy but will also take certain practical steps. I beg to be guaranteed the opportunity to pursue without let or hindrance my scientific and pedagogical work in my chief speciality – Crimean Tatar philology and I request that the conditions necessary for this be created. I absolutely insist that the persecution cease, and its organizers and perpetrators be severely punished, expect the Central Committee to oblige the editor of Trud [A M. Subbotin] to allow me the opportunity publicly to refute Yu. Baranov’s slanderous article.”

The only concrete reaction to this letter was the entirely unprovoked dismissal of Professor Muzafarov from the Kishinyov Institute of Art, where he was working at the time, and where he had spent only two months.

On 17 May, having received no reply to his first letter, Professor Muzafarov wrote a second letter to Brezhnev. In this letter he writes, amongst other things: “Such a protracted silence, combined with fresh instances of persecution . . , compels me to think that the Central Committee is conniving at the victimization of a Soviet scholar for his public activities, aimed at the logical realization of the Leninist principles of [our] nationalities policy, in this connection I would like to remind you a second time that I still expect a prompt and satisfactory reply to my letter, ! have to inform you that if I do not receive such a reply within the next few days – a reply not only in word, but in deed – I shall have no alternative but to make our one-sided ‘correspondence’ public.”


Moscow. For many years now Valentin Prussakov and his wife [Lyudmila] have been seeking permission to emigrate to Israel [see CCE 1.7]. On 3 April 1971 they were detained on the street by employees of the state security police. They were told that they were suspected of robbery. At the police-station, however, they were presented with a warrant for their “Detention while committing acts of hooliganism”. They were subjected to a search and all the papers they had on them were confiscated, including an appeal addressed to the 24th Party Congress requesting permission to leave for Israel.

The state security employees promised to return all the papers to them, but to this day they have not done so. On 12 May 1972, V. Prussakov was summoned to the district police station, where an employee informed him that he was regularly causing a breach of the peace while in an intoxicated condition. Prussakov objected, saying that nobody had ever rebuked him for causing a breach of the peace, and so this did not tally with the accusation of “regular breaches”, and secondly that he was someone who never touched alcohol. The police employee declared that there had in all probability been a mistake, and they had confused Prussakov with someone else, but nevertheless he warned him of his responsibility, should he commit any “anti-social acts” in the future.


Voronezh [central Russia]. Three second-year history students at Voronezh University (two of whom are Vysotsky and Semyonov) were expelled from the Komsomol and the University in March 1972. They were accused of putting out a manuscript journal, “Sexual-Democrat” [a pun on Social-Democrat], with a leaflet entitled “Pacifist” enclosed.

The journal discussed problems of social ethics as applied to sexual life. The authors were fighting for a more serious and open discussion of problems of sex. The articles in the journal related to questions of the special role of the intelligentsia in the life of society in the USSR and in the shaping of the nation, to questions of censorship and of the need lor democratic reforms. In connection with the activities of the student journalists a strict reprimand was given to the departmental head. Professor A. Nemirovsky. ‘

The Voronezh Regional Party Committee keeps a sharp eye on the spiritual life of the region. Not long ago a puppet theatre was forbidden to stage the play ‘”Three Little Piggies” on the eve of the fiftieth anniversary of the USSR. This spring the Regional Party Committee banned the dust-jacket of a book by Professor Nemirovsky, “The Thread of Ariadne”, which had already been printed and distributed to shops. The author had devoted his book to a study of Roman and Greek antiquities. The dustcover depicted the labyrinth of King Minos at Knossos. The regional Party committee saw a fascist symbol in the lines of the labyrinth, and the dust jacket, by then in the shops, was withdrawn and destroyed.



[1] See Musafarov’s speech at A. E. Kostyorin’s funeral in 1968 (Possev 4, 1969. p. 53; and CCE 5.1).

[2] See the Prussakovs’ letter in The Times, 25 February 1971.