From 1957 to 1963 Revolt Pimenov (b. 1931) served six years for “anti-Soviet agitation and propaganda” (CCE 15.3). In 1964 he defended his thesis for a master’s degree in mathematics, and in 1969 his doctoral thesis. Before the latter could be ratified, in the summer of 1970, Pimenov was arrested (CCE 15.3). In April 1974 he finished serving his sentence of exile in Syktyvkar and remained there to live (CCE 16.2 and CCE 32.17).
Revolt Pimenov, 1931-1990
On 6 October 1978, the Academic Council of the Biological Institute of the Komi Branch of the USSR Academy of Sciences investigated the question of “whether to re-select R. I. Pimenov, ahead of schedule, for the office of Senior Research Officer”.
In her opening address, the Institute Director, I. V. Zaboyeva, said:
“On 3 August 1978 Senior Research Officer of the Laboratory of Mathematics and Computer Science R. I. Pimenov tried to copy, on the Vega copier, a handwritten book of poems by Galich — poems which slander our Soviet way of life. The attempt was made in working hours, through laboratory assistant M. A. Dyomina.
“It was discovered by Acting Chief of Laboratories A. M, Pupkov. Our thanks to him. He wrote down this incident in a report and on 8 August this report was handed by me to the Presidium. On 21 August V. P. Podoplelov and other members of the Presidium had a talk with Revolt Ivanovich and recommended that the Academic Council review Pimenov’s position ahead of schedule. This position is due for review in October 1979.
“On his return from holiday, Acting Chief of Laboratories V. S. Nikiforov made a report to the Director confirming the fact of R. I. Pimenov’s breach of discipline in using a machine for his own purposes and placed in doubt the possibility of retaining Revolt Ivanovich in the office of Senior Research Officer.
“The action of Research Officer R. I. Pimenov is a gross violation of the basic principles of our society and flouts the norms of communist morality. In agreement with all the instructions of the Higher Degrees Commission, a Senior Research Officer is, above all, a patriot of his Motherland and an educator of young people. R. I. Pimenov’s attention was drawn seriously to this point when he was chosen for the office of Senior Research Officer in 1974.”
Pimenov then gave a short account of his work. In conclusion he said: “With respect to what has happened, I must say that I admit my guilt in disobeying instructions about the use of the Vega copier and am ready to hear your judgment on this matter.”
Replying to questions, Pimenov said: “This was the first time I tried to get poems copied. I wanted one copy, for my personal use, and simply because I find some of these poems moving.”
A. M. Pupkov, coming forward, said:
“As regards the political platform of this action, I can’t say. But one thing is clear to me, that such an action is punishable according to article 190-1, and the abuse of his position — by article 171, i.e., these aspects of Revolt Ivanovich’s action verge on violating the law.
“There could also be negligence on my part towards the action of Revolt Ivanovich, but this is already taken care of by article 172. And if I had shielded Revolt Ivanovich — this would be a typical example of complicity. Today the Academic Council must put Revolt Ivanovich on the right path.”
The majority of speakers expressed opposition to Pimenov’s continuation as a Senior Research Officer.
Two speeches, however, stand apart.
V. S. Nikiforov said:
“There is no doubt that R. I. Pimenov is unsuitable for his office, especially if one considers the not unimportant demand that a Senior Research Officer be an educator of young people. His ideological convictions have nothing in common with our world view. Even before this incident I had no doubt on that score.
“All the same, we did elect Revolt Ivanovich to the office of Senior Research Officer, believing that this would allow us to make demands on R. 1. Pimenov, the fulfilment of which would make his election to our advantage, and hoping that the possible harm caused by such a step would be slight and easily neutralized through our efforts, etc.
“From my point of view Revolt Ivanovich’s record and his past actions fully confirm that our expectations were completely justified. R. I. Pimenov’s usefulness to the Laboratory in the period under review is unquestionable, and the harm he has caused has been minimal … I do not see a basis for changing my initial point of view, that the wrong he has done can be compensated through his usefulness. I think that if we discharge R. I. Pimenov from the office of Senior Research Officer we will only slightly lessen the extent of the harm, which has not been so great, but at the same time, we will deprive ourselves of the possibility of making further demands of him. We will lessen the benefits which he has brought to the laboratory, and to a great extent will add to the harm he has caused by bringing harm to the laboratory ourselves.
“In view of this, believing the present discussion to be vitally necessary, I call upon you to consider all the aspects of the decision which we will be making by secret ballot, and to take into account the aspects and problems which I have formulated. I hardly need to say that, whichever one of us was being voted on, nothing can guide us other than our own consciences. But it would be desirable that our consciences were guided by practical considerations as well as spontaneous feelings.”
(On 26 October, the Academic Council did not elect Nikiforov to the post of Chief of Laboratories.)
The Institute’s Komsomol Secretary, T. G. Barkova, said:
“I have worked in the same Laboratory as Revolt Ivanovich for almost three years. What he did was, of course, very bad and I once heard, in passing, that he had been imprisoned somewhere, for something; but in the Laboratory I saw nothing unusual.
“I am the Institute’s Komsomol Secretary, which puts me under a lot of obligations. It’s been said here that he is engaged in anti-Soviet agitation and propaganda, but I want to say that nothing like that went on in the Laboratory in my presence, and I’m annoyed — I mean all in all he’s a good man.”
After this speech Zaboyeva commented: “It seems we were hasty and mistaken in choosing you as Komsomol Secretary. You’re too feeble a Secretary for us.”
On 18 October, a new Secretary was chosen.
In the secret ballot on re-electing Pimenov to the office of Senior Research Officer one person voted in favour, 12 voted against and one paper was declared spoiled.
On 19 October Pimenov and Nikiforov were called to a meeting of the Presidium of the Komi Branch of the USSR Academy of Sciences.
Speaking at the meeting, the Rector of Syktyvkar University, V. A. Vityazeva, said:
“Revolt Ivanovich, you remember that when the question of whether to employ you in our branch was being decided, none of us was burning with the desire to take you. But all the same, and in spite of your past, we decided to trust you. Have you now reverted to your former ways?”
“I have indeed committed an offence and am not trying to justify myself. But why is it necessary to make such a broad generalization — that I’ve ‘reverted to my former ways’ — in the light of one incident? When this episode was analysed, everyone noted that it was the sole thing of which I am guilty.”
To Vityazeva’s question: “But why were you in need of this Galich, a man expelled from the Soviet Union for anti-Soviet activities?”
“V. P. Podoplelov said: ‘Galich looks at the world through prison bars’; prison bars are a part of my life too. And I like some of Galich’s poetry, or rather I’m moved by it, because of that very harmony with a slice of my life. The poems which we are talking about have not anti-Soviet content. Galich was never charged with anti-Soviet activity during the time that he lived in the USSR. He sang these verses openly in Moscow. I heard them myself. This collection is dated 1974, so it does not include any of his work in emigration. Therefore, there are no grounds for talking about anti-Soviet activity.
“I’m not trying to justify my action, but I feel that my punishment was exceptionally severe.”
To this, Presidium Chairman V. P. Podoplelov said:
“Indeed, I agree with Pimenov that his punishment is exceptionally harsh. But it would seem so only to someone who doesn’t know Pimenov. I know him ten times better than Vityazeva and I know that anyone who was in possession of all the facts about Pimenov would see that his punishment was exceptionally light.
“I can believe that he didn’t intend to circulate Galich’s verses and really did make just one copy. One can believe what he says that foreign editions of his (Pimenov’s) works came out without his knowledge. But what revolting publications they appeared in: a dirty little anti-Soviet paper in Germany, and that one in Paris. They make the most of him there!
“This really is the only incident, nothing else happened in the laboratory. But I don’t trust Pimenov!
“And bear in mind. Revolt Ivanovich, that if something like this occurs again in the Laboratory, our conversation with you will be different.”
On 21 October (Saturday) Podoplelov signed an order from the Komi Branch to transfer R. I. Pimenov as from 19 October to the office of Junior Research Officer, “in connection with his non-election”.
The Deputy Head of the Hostel Administration of Moscow University V. I. Pechatkin, sent an ‘official note’ to the Faculty of Biology:
“Among the articles left in the locker room of zone ‘V’ of Moscow University by student S. B. Bogdanovsky, the following anti-Soviet materials were discovered: one handwritten copy of a poem beginning with the words ‘The brake squeaked in a raucous tenor’ and ending with the words ‘The seven enter’, and one typed copy of an article ‘A Letter from Russia to Russia’ (ten pages)… these materials were confiscated from S. B. Bogdanovsky and a statement was drawn up. In an addition to the statement Bogdanovsky denied ownership of the above-mentioned articles.”
In connection with this “official note” on 15 May the Bureau of the University Komsomol Committee investigated the personal affairs of Sergei Bogdanovsky, fifth-year student of the Faculty of Biology. Bogdanovsky made a statement to the Bureau:
“Because of my faith in God I became a member of the Russian Orthodox Church. Since membership of the Komsomol is incompatible with Christianity, I am hereby giving notice of my resignation from the Komsomol. I ask you to listen to my personal affairs in my absence.”
The Bureau expelled Bogdanovsky from the Komsomol for “political immaturity and behaviour unworthy of the title of Komsomol member”.
On 18 May the Acting Dean of the Biology Faculty, V. M. Logvinenko. signed an order to expel Bogdanovsky from the university — “for behaviour unworthy of the title of Soviet student”.