The Trial of Bolonkin, August 1978 (51.7)

<<No 51 : 1 December 1978>>

On 20 April, 26 days before the completion of his exile, Alexander A. Bolonkin was arrested: in 1976 he completed four years in the camps under Article 70 [pt. 1] of the Russian Criminal Code (see CCE 30.4).


On 6 May 1978, he was taken in handcuffs by plane from Bagdarin to Ulan-Ude and placed in cell No. 74 of Investigations Prison No. 2/1 (CCE 49.7). During the two weeks that Bolonkin was in Ulan-Ude he was not once interrogated, but on 15 May Reshetnikov, a prisoner under investigation, beat him up, indicating to him that he was acting on instructions. On 21 May Bolonkin was taken to Bagdarin.

On 30 May he was taken back to Ulan-Ude and placed in the cell he occupied before. Oleichik, a prisoner in the same cell, told Bolonkin that he was being held in an investigations prison used for special assignments.

On 2 June Oleichik returned to the cell after a long absence and said that he had seen the Head of the Operations Section, who had given him a special task and a bottle of vodka. Oleichik started beating Bolonkin up, because, he said, the Head of the Operations Section had instructed him to do so, Oleichik demanded that Bolonkin plead guilty and give the testimony the investigators were trying to extract from him. He threatened Bolonkin that he would rape him and kill him. Telling him that the Head of the Operations Section had guaranteed him full immunity, as everything had been agreed in higher circles, Oleichik attacked Bolonkin with a knife.


On 3 June Bolonkin wrote about the above treatment to the Procurator-General of the USSR.

It is known that at least up to 11 June he had, once more, had no interrogation.

On 23 June Yu.A. Shikhanovich (CCE 2.1, CCE 27.2, CCE 30.3, CCEs 32 and 34) appealed to the Procurator-General of the USSR, requesting his intervention in Bolonkin’s case. The reason he gave for making this request was the methods used in the investigation. Shikhanovich’s declaration was forwarded to the Procuracy of the Buryat ASSR, from which a reply was sent on 26 July:

“… In the actions of Investigator B.F. Alexandrov in the investigation of the criminal case with respect to Bolonkin, there was no infringement of legality, and the information about persecution of Bolonkin by his cellmates has not been confirmed.”

In a letter of 8 November sent from camp, Bolonkin wrote: “Tell Yura Shikhanovich that I am very grateful to him for coming to my defence. My situation improved a little after this …”

In July, the pre-trial investigation was completed.

The Trial

On 4 August, the Yeravninsky district people’s court, presided over by E. B. Zhanchipov, examined in Bagdarin Settlement considered the case of Bolonkin. He was charged under the following articles of the Russian Criminal Code: 92, pt. 2 (“Theft of State … property … effected through appropriation … or abuse of position at work”); 147, pt. 2 (“fraudulence”); 156, pt. 1 (“deceiving clients”); and 175 (“forgery whilst at work”). The prosecutor at the trial was Procurator A. F. Baiborodin (from Ulan-Ude) and the defence lawyer was barrister S. N. Ktoyan (from Bagdarin).

At the trial, as during the pre-trial investigation, Bolonkin categorically denied any guilt. His copies of the legal codes and the notes he had made from the case materials were confiscated. During the trial one charge was changed and one dropped. Under Articles 93, pt. 2 (“Theft of State … property, effected through fraudulence”), 147, pt. 2, and 156, pt. 1, the court sentenced Bolonkin to 3 years in strict-regime camps and repayment of the 1,340 ‘stolen’ roubles.

“I demand to leave the socialist paradise for the capitalist hell,” (A.A. Bolonkin)

On 15 August A. D. Sakharov appealed to the participants of the International Mathematics Congress in Helsinki to take up the defence of their colleague Bolonkin. In the appeal he wrote:

“In exile Bolonkin worked in a radio repair workshop and, by agreement with clients, occasionally repaired radio equipment outside normal working hours for private payment. This completely legal action has been used as a pretext for charging him with stealing State property. The real reason was the KGB’s desire not to let their victim go – Bolonkin has been trying to obtain permission to leave the USSR.”


On 10 October, the Supreme Court of the Buryat ASSR, after examining the appeal, left the sentence unchanged. On 12 October, the republican newspaper Pravda Buryatia carried a satirical article about Bolonkin and his ‘case’.

On 31 October Bolonkin arrived at his camp. Almost immediately, on 4 November, he had to enter hospital with paraproctitis [an inflammation of the anal passage], where he stayed for three weeks. At the end of November, he was transferred to another camp with the address; 670016, Buryat ASSR, Ulan-Ude, Yuzhny settlement, [penal] institution OV-94/2-B.



Alexander Bolonkin (1933-2020) was again prosecuted under Article 70 in early 1982. The Supreme Court of the Buryat ASSR sentenced him to one year’s imprisonment and five years’ exile (CCE 64.13). He emigrated to the USA in 1987.