The trial in the case of Victor Alexandrovich Khaustov took place from 4 to 6 March in the Oryol City Court. The judge was Novikov, the prosecutor was Ponomaryov, and counsel for the defence was Nimirinskaya, a lawyer from Voroshilovgrad [Ukraine].
Khaustov was charged with: transmitting information to the Chronicle about the underground group of Kuzin and others in Oryol (see CCE 29.4); taking part in the duplication and sending to the West of the Diaries of Edward Kuznetsov; signing letters in defence of Bukovsky and Yakir; the possession and circulation of “anti-Soviet” literature: issues of the Chronicle, the collection In Memory of A.E. Kostyorin, two leaflets in defence of P. G. Grigorenko, the journal Novy grad, and [David] Shub’s book Political figures in Russia, 1850-1920, and orally ‘slandering’ the Soviet system and Soviet electoral procedures. The indictment charged that, after serving three years of imprisonment and being freed in 1970,[note] Khaustov “retained his anti-Soviet position” and “maintained criminal links with Yakir, Krasin, Belogorodskaya, Bonner, Kuzin, and Superfin”.
Khaustov pleaded guilty, although in the course of the judicial examination he disputed several points of the indictment. He said that after his release he had retained his former anti-Soviet convictions but regarded anti-Soviet activity as useless, pointless and causing nothing but harm to the people who engaged in it. He continued to be interested in philosophy, especially works of religious philosophy, and in the process of acquiring the literature that interested him became acquainted with Kuzin. After receiving Kuzin’s “Program” from him, Khaustov transmitted it to Telnikov but categorically opposed the inclusion of any note about the “Program” in the Chronicle and also any mention of the underground group which had been formed in Oryol. Khaustov did not attach to this isolated episode the significance suggested by the term anti-Soviet activity.
Speaking at the trial as a witness, Kuzin testified that Khaustov would bring to him in Oryol anti-Soviet literature from Telnikov: the Chronicle, Shub’s book, the collection In Memory of Kostyorin, and other items. Since he was interested in Kuzin’s political views, Khaustov had taken the program from him in order to read it. Kuzin said that Khaustov gave him the impression of a man who had been drawn into this activity against his will.
Khaustov said in evidence that he had received the manuscript of Kuznetsov’s Diaries from Bonner in a packet inscribed “For Victor only”. Khaustov had asked Yakir to duplicate the manuscript, for although he had wanted to duplicate it himself, he had been unable to. He had then turned for help to Superfin.
Superfin had typed the manuscript in three copies and undertaken to transmit it to the West. Khaustov had given the second copy of the typescript to Bonner and kept the third for himself, intending to circulate it in samizdat. As he had learnt during the investigation from Superfin’s testimony, the latter had transmitted his type-written copy and the manuscript to the West. From the same testimony Khaustov had discovered that Bonner had sent her copy to Italy.
Summoned to the court as a witness, Superfin made a statement repudiating the evidence he had given during the investigation and refused to give evidence in court (for further details see this issue “The case of Gabriel Superfin”, CCE 32.3). The judge ruled that in that case the evidence given by Superfin during the pre-trial investigation would be read out. Khaustov’s defence counsel, the lawyer Nimirinskaya, objected, regarding such a ruling as illegal: the Code of Criminal Procedure made provision for testimony to be read out in the event of a witness failing to appear in court or in the event of a clear disparity between the evidence given during the investigation and in court, but not in the event of a refusal to testify. The court adjourned; during this time Nimirinskaya, with the judge’s permission, talked to Superfin. After the recess Superfin agreed to reply to certain questions that did not involve third persons. He gave evidence regarding the typing and transmission of the Diaries and noted the insignificant role played by Khaustov. After this evidence Khaustov spoke again, in turn taking on himself the main share of involvement.
Khaustov testified that he did not consider the letters in defence of arrested people to be anti-Soviet: he had put his signature to these letters out of personal motives of friendship. He said, in particular, that the sudden changes in the lot of Bukovsky had amazed him: now he would be pronounced schizophrenic, now of sound mind. In the reply to this the judge asked why Khaustov had not written that a sick man should not be tried. Khaustov answered that he did not consider Bukovsky to be sick.
Besides the two main witnesses who were brought to the courtroom from custody, there were also a few others from the vacuum-cleaner factory where Khaustov had worked up till his arrest, and from a polling-station. They testified that Khaustov had refused to take part in elections, would not go on [official] demonstrations, and would talk about his earlier imprisonment; however, he had not held anti-Soviet conversations and on his own initiative had not taken part in conversations on political topics.
To the court’s question as to whether he felt remorse, Khaustov said that he had no remorse but did feel regret: that he retained and, evidently, would continue to retain an anti-Soviet position. Nevertheless, said Khaustov, he did not intend to continue any anti-Soviet activity.
The procurator demanded five years in camps and three years of exile for Khaustov.
Defence counsel completely denied Khaustov’s guilt on some of the charges (anti-Soviet statements, signing the letters) and made various amendments in relation to the others. Counsel drew the court’s attention to the tragic nature of Khaustov’s fate, to his urge for justice, which expressed itself, for example.
in the fact that, while disputing insignificant points of the indictment, he admitted far more serious ones. She asked for the minimal sentence to be applied to Khaustov.
In his final speech Khaustov said that the prosecution and the defence had given a complete and comprehensive description of his activity and personality. He said that he expected from the court not mercy or indulgence, only justice.
The court sentenced Khaustov to four years of camps and two years of exile.
At an appeal hearing on 16 April the RSFSR Supreme Court upheld the sentence of the Oryol City Court as fully legitimate and substantiated.
On 27 May 1974, Victor Khaustov was dispatched from Oryol Prison; he arrived at the Perm camps, after transport by stages, on 4 July. His address is: Perm Region, Chusovskoi district, Kuchino settlement, [penal] institution VS-389/36.