In Other Camps, December 1978 (51.9)

<<No 51 : 1 December 1978>>


On 15 May (CCE 49) Pyotr Vins was sent to Camp OR-318/76 (Rafalovka Station, Rovno Region), where Vasily Barladyanu is held (CCEs 47 and 48).

On 15 May, the day after he arrived in camp, Vins was receiving his camp uniform. In the clothing section, while Vins was trying to find his size, the warder, Ensign Furlet, knocked him down and kicked him.

Vins was sent to work in a quarry at first. Because of his poor health, he continually failed to fulfil the norm and after a week was transferred to another job. (They say that during the war there was a German concentration camp on the same premises, and that the production norm in the quarry was about half what it is now).

On 9 June, foreman Romanchuk (former chairman of a collective farm sentenced for beating up collective-farm workers) ordered Vins to work the second shift. Vins refused, citing the Corrective Labour Code. The foreman swore at him and said: “You anti-Soviet agitators, you’re setting up anti-Soviet groups here.” Then Vins wrote a statement to the Camp Commandant asking him to put an end to this tyrannical and provocative behaviour. The next morning the Commandant summoned Vins and told him that “for knowing the Corrective Labour Code” Vins would work an additional two hours each day. That evening Vins was called out to work and ordered to dig the forbidden strip next to the fence. He refused. Senior Lieutenant Lirnik gave him a brutal beating. Afterwards Vins was put in the cooler for ten days. There he was beaten again.

The next day section-head Dobrodeyev remarked to Vasily Barladyanu that if he and Vins complained, “anything could happen”. Lirnik threatened to beat up Barladyanu. Around this time two criminal prisoners wrote a statement saying that Barladyanu had “slandered our Leninist system”.

On 13 June Vins declared a hunger-strike, demanding that Lirnik be punished. On 14 June Barladyanu also went on hunger-strike. In addition to Vins’s demand, he asked that both of them be transferred to another camp. The same day Barladyanu was put in the cooler.

On 21 June both Vins and Barladyanu were released from the cooler on the instructions of the regional Procurator responsible for places of detention. On their release from the cooler, they ceased their hunger-strike.

On 26 June Vins’s relatives, having heard what had happened in the camp, sent identical telegrams to the Presidium of the USSR Supreme Soviet, the Council of Ministers, the Ministry of Internal Affairs, the USSR Procuracy and the Rovno regional UVD. They reported Vins’s beatings and urged them to take immediate measures. Then the republican Procurator responsible for places of detention visited the camp. Vins was transferred to another barracks (formerly he and Barladyanu had been in the same barracks) and put on a special diet. The Procurator did not speak either with Vins or with Barladyanu. The version spread in the camp was that nobody had beaten Vins up, and that the story had been invented by Barladyanu, who would be made to answer for it.

At the beginning of September Vins was transferred to another camp (Sumskaya Region, Romnensky district, Perekrestovka village, [penal] institution US-319/56). Before the transfer Vins held two more protest hunger-strikes. While he was in the cooler, during his third hunger-strike, he was again beaten up. In the presence of two witnesses the guards threw Vins on the door and kicked him, injuring his head.


In June Grigory Goldstein, who had been sent off from Tbilisi on 8 April (CCE 49), arrived at Institution UR-42/14 (in the town of Velsk, Arkhangelsk Region). The journey took two and a half months, 40 days of which he spent in a Rostov Prison.

Vadim Smogitel (CCE 48) is serving his sentence in an ordinary-regime camp at the following address: Kherson Region, Golopristansky district, Staraya Zburevka village, post-box Yu-Z-17/7, unit 9-31. He is working in his profession, directing prisoners’ amateur musical activities.


Ona Pranskunaite (CCEs 47 and 48) has been transferred from a camp in Chuvashia “to do chemistry” [note 1].

She is working in Ulyanovsk, in a leather goods factory, in a job which is considered harmful (working with acetone). She is living in a hostel with three women criminals as neighbours. Ona Pranskunaite’s sentence ends in January 1979.


Riza Muslyadinov (CCE 49) is serving his sentence in Institution YuE-312/57-G (Donetsk Region, Shakhtyorsk, Sitnikovo settlement).


Since the middle of May, Kirill Podrabinek (on his trial, see CCE 49.1) has been serving his sentence in Tobolsk ( [penal] institution YaTs-34/16-D). On 12 June he was given 15 days in the cooler. Then he was apparently punished with two more consecutive 15-day sentences in the cooler. The reasons given were Podrabinek’s refusal to work – he only refused work beyond his strength, as he suffers from myocardia – and “expression of anti-Soviet views” (Kirill had described his case to those who were interested). Kirill declared a hunger-strike in the cooler.

On 23 July 1978, the Tobolsk people’s court ruled that Kirill Podrabinek should be transferred to prison for the same reasons as those for which he had been put in the cooler. After the trial Kirill was still held in the cooler.

During all the time K. Podrabinek has spent in the camp, he was not allowed a single visit. The administration claimed that this was because he was always in the cooler. On 26 August Kirill’s father Pinkhos A. Podrabinek came to see him. He told the Camp Commandant, Major Khvostov, that he was not sure his son was alive, as he had only received one letter from him, in June, and asked permission to see his son, if only for a few minutes. Khvostov granted P. A. Podrabinek a five-minute visit with his son. Kirill was brought over from the cooler. He looked emaciated. It transpired that he had already been on hunger-strike for 50 days.

In September and October, P. A. Podrabinek attempted to find out where his son was. On 15 September Khvostov replied to his telegram saying: “We do not know as yet but will inform you when he arrives at his destination.” On 11 October the Information Centre of the Tyumen UVD replied to his telegram of enquiry by saying that Podrabinek was registered as being in the original camp. P.A. Podrabinek complained about the camp administration to the USSR MVD Central Administration for Corrective Labour Institutions. He received the following reply from Sherko, the head of the Tyumen U V D’s Administration for Corrective-Labour Institutions:

“Your son is at present serving his sentence in Institution YaTs-34/16 in Tobolsk. The official who gave you an inaccurate reply has been given a severe warning. … I must explain that in corrective labour institutions prisoners are re-educated by work, taking the prisoner’s state of health into consideration, and according to doctors’ recommendations.

“It has been established that there has been no violation of the law on the part of the administration of the institution regarding the conditions in which your son is held.”

At the end of November, Kirill Podrabinek arrived at a prison in Yelets, Lipetsk Region ([penal] institution YuU-323/ST2).



G. Goldstein, after spending time in the Rostov and Ryazan Transit Prisons, told his relatives that the cells in these prisons contained filth, lice and bedbugs, and were overcrowded.

Before being dispatched to her place of exile, Ida Nudel (CCE 50.8) was in Krasnaya Presnya Transit Prison in Moscow. During a visit she told about the lice and bedbugs in the cells; for this reason many of her fellow-prisoners had been completely shaved. The cells were overcrowded: Nudel slept on the floor.

V. SIepak (CCE 50.8) has recounted that in Sverdlovsk Transit Prison 103 men were held in a cell built for 48. The Butyrka Transit Prison [in Moscow], where Slepak was held until his trial and before he was dispatched, was even more overcrowded: 25 prisoners were held in a cell meant for 10. The prisoners had to take turns in sleeping; they also slept under the bunks. In the cell there were bedbugs, lice and huge quantities of fleas; the cells were stuffy and filled with stale stinking air; many prisoners fainted, and their cellmates had to pour water over them. The guards were armed with rubber truncheons and beat prisoners without warning. In the Irkutsk Transit Prison, the floor was covered with a film of water, there were no mattresses, and the bunk boards were covered with bedbugs.

At the beginning of June Isai Goldstein (G. Goldstein’s brother) managed to obtain a meeting with an official of the CPSU Central Committee’s administrative organs department, Vitaly Yevgenyevich Sidorov, who supervises the MVD. Goldstein reported what his brother had told him about the transit prisons. Sidorov promised to check out the situation and put things right. In July, after he had visited Ida Nudel, Isai Goldstein again tried to obtain a meeting with Sidorov. Sidorov refused to see him and sent him to the MVD. In the MVD offices, the department head, Colonel Karagezyan, agreed to see Goldstein. When Goldstein reported the unsanitary conditions in the transit prisons, Karagezyan told him:

“It’s quite possible. It does happen. Write a complaint. We’ll punish them.”



CCEs 48 and 50 have already reported on statements of political prisoners asking to be questioned in connection with possible charges against Ginzburg and Orlov accusing them of depicting conditions in the camps and prisons slanderously.

One of these statements was published in CCE 50, that by A. Zdorovy telling how the prisoner Anisimov had been coached on how to give evidence at Orlov’s trial. Here now is a survey of seven such statements, which were sent by prisoners in Perm Camp 36 on 12 June 1978 to the Kaluga Regional Court and the RSFSR Supreme Court.

[1] Žukauskas describes the poor medical care in the camps, giving several specific examples. He also mentions Major Chernyakov’s attempt in 1976 to recruit him as an informer, in exchange for which the medical unit would provide him with the medicines he needed.

[2] Safronov writes about the political prisoners’ food situation:

“The authors of the book Corrective Labour Psychology, written for official use only, express the opinion that the food given to prisoners must be limited and of inferior quality.”

Safronov reports that prisoners are not given the amount of meat prescribed, He also points out, regarding non-food items of primary necessity, that:

“Prisoners may obtain them only to the detriment of their stomachs, since they are included in the meagre five-rouble maximum the prisoners are allowed to spend [in the camp shop].”

(This statement was confiscated as “containing slanderous fabrications”).

[3] Balakhonov cites examples of violations of the law in places of detention, and reports that the prisoner Zipre was beaten up by orderlies in a psychiatric block, that the prisoner Tikhonov was murdered in Vladimir Prison, that food is insufficient, and that it is impossible to obtain basic medical assistance.

[4] Pronyuk writes about the political prisoners’ working conditions, violations of safety regulations, increased production norms, and punishments for failing to fulfil the norm.

[5] Slobodyan writes that “living conditions in the camp lead to the inhuman and deliberate destruction of human beings”:

“On 10 March this year, I, a sick man, was put in the cooler for 48 hours for not being able to fulfil the production norm, due to poor health, and for demanding medical assistance because of ulcers and glands … I am deprived of access to the camp shop because I, a sick man, was unable to fulfil the production norm. In winter it is 8-9 degrees in the barracks, instead of 18° [Centigrade]. In winter the temperature in the workshop dropped to zero (the water froze).

“In this temperature one must work eight hours at the panel assembly. Moreover, we are not issued warm clothing (felt boots and quilted jackets) and those who manage to obtain some are put in the cooler by the administration”.

He also writes about the raising of production norms “without any improvements in production equipment”, about the lowering of job rates, and about punishments for failure to fulfil the norm.

[6] Grigoryan, giving an example of camp conditions, tells how in January 1978 he and N. Marmus were put in the cooler. At night the temperature was 14-15°, however Grigoryan and Marmus’s warm underclothes and jackets were taken from them. “Sometimes the guards would “accidentally” leave the door of the cooler open … As a result, Marmus and I were ill for over a month.”

[7] Mättik writes about the food and living conditions, about the intolerably long delays by the censors (sometimes taking several months), and about the disappearance of statements addressed to various departments.


A Letter to A.D. Sakharov – summer 1978 [note 2]

This long letter (27 pp.) was written by a political prisoner in Mordovian Camp 1. Instead of signing his name, the author writes:

“I will not write my name, so as to avoid reprisals. If you need to mention my name, however, you may do so.”

On 30 October, Political Prisoners’ Day, A. D. Sakharov distributed the letter for publication, along with his own introduction. He says that he knows the author, whom he respects and trusts fully. Regarding the content of the letter Sakharov writes the following:

“This is, first of all, a remarkably concrete and striking picture of camp life: the insanitary conditions, the cold, the hunger, the crowding and filth, the callousness, tyranny and cruelty of the administration, the dangerous and exhausting labour, the repression and provocations, the frequent illnesses and unsatisfactory medical care. The letter also discusses other aspects of camp life – relations with the authorities, specific features of the position of political prisoners and of their relations with the criminal prisoners. Most important of the general questions discussed in the letter is the true role of labour in the camp – its compulsory and punitive, in fact slave-like nature.”


B. Gajauskas, G. Denisenko, N. Yevgrafov, S. Karavansky, E. Kuznetsov, A. Murzhenko, M. Osadchy, B. Rebrik, V. Romanyuk, A. Tikhy, D. Shumuk – “Statement” (July 1978)

“We are hostages of the Free World. Our fate is a sad prototype of the fate which awaits all those who love freedom in the West, whenever it may be that Soviet jurisdiction reaches them. Any form of condoning a tyranny which cruelly punishes all dissent is immoral and dangerous …”

The authors express their approval of the policies of Carter’s government.


E. Kuznetsov. A. Murzhenko, M. Osadchy, V. Romanyuk – “To the Parliament and Government of Canada” (10 September 1978)

“We, political prisoners of the Sosnovka concentration camp, have learned that the Canadian Parliament is taking specific steps for the release of Shumuk. In connection with this information, which gives us hope, and understanding perfectly what a laborious task it is, we appeal to you to multiply your efforts, for Shumuk’s state of health is disastrous.

“Danilo Lavrentevich SHUMUK, aged 64, has now been a political prisoner for 34 years. He has been in Polish prisons, he has escaped from a German concentration camp, he has been in an interminable succession of Soviet dungeons and forced labour camps, whose iron claws have held him for 29 years. Behind him are a death sentence, torture, torment, hunger, and participation in all forms of opposition to his gaolers, the high point being his active participation in the Norilsk Camp revolt of 1953.

“He still has three years of concentration camp and five years in exile left out of the 15-year term to which he was sentenced in 1972 for recounting, in his book Beyond the Eastern Horizon, how, after dedicating his youth to the underground struggle to establish the Soviet regime in the ranks of the West Ukrainian Communist Party, for which he served five years in Polish prisons, when he met real Socialism face to face. Horrified, he mustered the strength to see the error of his ways, joined the struggle for the national liberation of the Ukraine, and finally experienced all the cruelty of the Soviet system, which finds its fullest and most open manifestation in the practices of concentration camps.

“By Soviet standards the remainder of Shumuk’s sentence is a mere trifle; however, burdened as he is with many diseases, he is not likely to live until 1987 and thus get the chance to insist on his right to emigrate to his relatives in Canada and live out the rest of his days there without fear of another arrest.

“We, Soviet political prisoners, not only receive practically no medical assistance from the so-called doctors assigned to the concentration camps: we are also deprived of the right to receive necessary medicines from outside the camps, even though for years the camp pharmacy has had nothing but aspirin.

“Shumuk is wasting away under our very eyes. Our efforts to compel our gaolers to provide Shumuk with qualified medical assistance have come up against cynical malice: Shumuk’s high principles and inflexible will, his whole life, are detestable and terrifying to them, as a living indictment and witness and a call for retribution.

“We appeal to you with gratitude for your concern for our fellow- prisoner and urge you to do everything you can so that he may be released as soon as possible.”


A. Tikhy, V. Romanyuk – “An Attempt to Generalize” (summer 1978)

The authors of this document consider that the Ukrainian national Renaissance of the 1960s and 1970s, after the ‘lost years’ of the 1930s and 1940s, has left its mark on the history of the Ukrainian people.

Oleksy Tikhy, 1927-1984

In their opinion, when the non-Russian peoples were subjected to increasing pressure in the 1970s, the number of people in the Ukraine who openly expressed their dissatisfaction with the existing state of affairs increased. The authors consider that a situation arose in which Ukrainian patriots were obliged to assume moral responsibility for the fate of the nation. They declare:

“We are democrats. For us, the U N’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights and its covenants and other documents on the independence and sovereignty of nations and peoples represent the highest principles of community and international social life.

“We dissociate ourselves from the policies and practices of the Soviet Communist Party in the nationality question, and from its interpretation of the idea of democracy …”

The authors stress their rejection of all forms of dictatorship, tyranny and disregard for the rights of any nations and peoples.

The next section of the document is entitled “The Historical Fate of the Ukraine”. Here the authors briefly give their point of view on the consequences of the joining of the Ukraine to Russia. Regarding the Soviet period they write: “Collectivization, the artificial famine of 1933, the war with fascist Germany, and the post-war repressions, particularly in the western regions, cost the Ukrainian people approximately 17 million lives.”

Here the authors express their hopes for the future: Ukraine must be independent, democratic and highly developed in all respects; each of her citizens must be guaranteed full rights; Ukraine must live in peace and friendship with all states, and her borders must be open.

The third section of the document is entitled “Possible Forms of Opposition”. In order to have the nation from spiritual and cultural destruction certain “Norms of Behaviour for Ukrainians” must be set. These are mainly concerned with passive resistance to Russification; using the native language everywhere; refusing to send one’s children to kindergartens, schools and other educational establishments where teaching is in Russian; demanding educational establishments where teaching is in the native language; boycotting shows, films and concerts in Russian; refusing to work in establishments or organizations where the Ukrainian language is disregarded; refusing to serve in the Army outside the borders of the Ukraine and under non- Ukraine speaking commanders; and not going to find work outside the Ukraine.

In addition, the “Norms of Behaviour” urge Ukrainians not to get drunk, smoke or swear; not to use objects of luxury; not to accumulate money and valuables, but to spend them on charity; to stand up for their rights and those of other people, and for the sovereignty of the Ukraine; and to expose and publicize all violations of legality, regardless of who committed them.

The authors consider that these forms of opposition to the “policies and practices of bureaucratism* cannot be regarded by the authorities as crimes, although they may well entail extrajudicial persecution. Ukrainian patriots are also given specific rules of behaviour in case they are summoned to “working-over” sessions’, talks or interrogations, or imprisoned for political reasons. These rules do not go beyond the norms of ordinary human behaviour (in similar situations) or ethics. Tikhy and Romanyuk conclude that:

“It is not necessary to break the law. It is enough to make use of the laws proclaimed by the Soviet Constitution, and thus to achieve, in the interests of the Ukrainian people, the renaissance, flourishing and freedom of the Ukraine.”


D. Kvetsko – “To the Presidium of the USSR Supreme Soviet” (10 December 1977)

Kvetsko (in 1967 he was given 15 years’ imprisonment plus 5 years’ exile for being a member of the Ukrainian National Front, see CCE 17.7) writes that the reason for his imprisonment was several articles on the situation in Podgore, which he had published in the Ukrainian samizdat collection “Freedom and Fatherland”.

Kvetsko explains that he was compelled to write these articles by the “devastation, poverty and hopeless penury of the inhabitants” of his native Podgore, which he observed in the 1950s and 1960s; the country’s main wealth, its forests, was burned and hacked down by the authorities, because UPA detachments [the Ukrainian Insurrectionist Army] were hiding in them; the peasants, deprived of their land, left the villages in a hurry to find work in Siberia, the Far East and Central Asia; many of them were forcibly deported to these areas, while “foreigners settled in the towns’. Kvetsko reports that his articles also described “the annihilation of Ukrainian culture, the extermination of the intelligentsia and the decline of national spirit and national consciousness among what was left of the creative intelligentsia”.

Kvetsko writes that his publicistic activities could not relate to the article in the Criminal Code about “betrayal of the Motherland”, but only to the article “Anti-Soviet agitation and propaganda”; he has repeatedly applied to the Presidium of the USSR Supreme Soviet, requesting that his case be re-examined:

“I know the value of the so-called ‘Motherland’ I ‘betrayed’. I know from history that every invader has brought to us Ukrainians on their warriors’ bayonets not only a new colonial yoke, but also a new Motherland, which he has forced us to love and defend.

“My grandfather lived under Austria, so Austria was his Motherland. My father lived under Poland, so Poland was his Motherland. I happen to live under the USSR, so the USSR became my Motherland. My grandfather fought for Austria in 1914, my father for Poland in 1939, while I have ‘betrayed’ the USSR. I also want to leave it”.

Dmitry Kvetsko asks to be deprived of his Soviet citizenship and allowed to emigrate from the USSR after he has served his term of imprisonment.


D. Kvetsko — “To the Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary Ambassador to the USSR of the Kingdom of the Netherlands” (10 December 1977). A request for political asylum and citizenship;

“I have never considered the Soviet Union my Motherland. My Motherland is the Ukraine, which has been enslaved by the Bolsheviks …

“I have always admired the beautiful free country of Holland and been interested in her nature, her traditions, her ability to conduct herself with dignity in the international scene and to remain faithful to the principles of ethics and democracy. For these reasons my choice is not a casual one, and I shall be truly happy to receive a satisfactory reply.”


A. A. Altman – “To the Administrative Organs Department of the Central Committee of the CPSU” (30 December 1977)

Altman protests against the camp trial of G.I. Butman on 27 December 1977, at which Butman was sentenced to be transferred to prison regime for the rest of his sentence. Altman demonstrates that the charges that Butman had several times infringed camp discipline were fabricated.

For example, Butman’s case file contains about 30 reports on him, which had not been shown to him while they were being accumulated. The main episode in the charges – terrorizing the prisoner Pashchenko, “who had taken the path of reform” – was also a fabrication. In fact, as Altman reports, they had once had a trivial, everyday dispute, for which they had both been punished, and the Deputy Camp Director had even threatened Pashchenko, as the one more to blame, with further investigation. At the trial however, he was transformed into the victim of Butman’s persecution.

Altman gives the real reason for the campaign against Butman: his wearing of a yellow star in protest against the anti-Semitic outbursts encouraged by the administration, e.g., the provocation by Udartsev of a quarrel with Zalmanson (see CCEs 45,46).


E. Sverstyuk – “To the International Red Cross” (8 May 1977)

“I appeal to the International Red Cross – I already know what the reply of the Executive Committee of the Union of the Soviet Societies of the Red Cross and the Red Crescent will be – about the state of medical care in Camps 35 and 36 for political prisoners.

“Here are some facts for 1977.

“At the beginning of February 1977 S. Kovalyov was awaiting a visit from his family, since he was about to undergo an urgent operation on a suspected cancerous tumour. When the visit was rudely cut short, he declared a hunger-strike, demanding that the visit be allowed to continue and that his operation take place in a Leningrad hospital. He was placed in solitary confinement and for a whole month a sick man was held under the watch of ensigns; on 1 March 1977, still on hunger-strike, he was dispatched on his journey. My statement to the Presidium of the U SSR Supreme Soviet about the failure to fulfil a human duty towards a sick man brought the following reply: ‘The law has not been violated with regard to Kovalyov.’

“On 3 January 1977, in the central hospital (i.e., in a cell used for medical purposes), without air or exercise, without treatment or care, political prisoner Lushch (CCE 33] died, having suffered from heart disease. The hospital is a few steps away from the camp, but he was put there only a couple of days before he died.

“On 14 March 1977, in the central camp hospital, A. Pleishe, a middle-aged man, died whilst waiting in vain for a stomach operation, after enduring a 70 km journey over the potholes from Kuchino to Vsesvyatskaya in the iron box of a Black Maria. Two tubercular patients, D. Demidov and A. Sergiyenko, who shared Pleishe’s cell and witnessed his helpless agony, refused to remain any longer in this horrible medical cell. Although a woman medic, Mantu, confirmed that they had tuberculosis in an active form, on 22 March 1977 they were taken out of the hospital to Camp 36 and locked in the cooler for 15 days. My statement to the UVD Regional Medical Department, that it is a crime to hold such sick men in the cooler, received a reply from Colonel Mikov, Head of the Administration of VS-389, saying that their punishment was justified.

“On 3 January 1977 V. Pidgorodetsky had a hernia operation. In April he was discharged from hospital with a festering open wound. For some reason the head of the hospital, Sheliya, chased a sick man, in need of an operation, out of his office. As a result, V. Pidgorodetsky’s heart disease was aggravated. There are sinister rumours about the hospital of Institution 389 and its head. As is shown simply by the facts given here, medical care in the camps is fully subordinated to the punitive regime.

“Not only does this regime subject the prisoners daily to moral and nervous traumas (here is a clear example: Major Fyodorov, Chief Disciplinary Officer of Camp 36, sent all Group 2 invalids out to work, thus presenting D. Basarab daily with the choice of whether or not to go to work and suffer a heart-attack); it is a question of the impossibility of proper medical care in camp conditions where the doctor plays the least significant role, and brings suspicion on himself if he dares to stay within the bounds of his duty as a doctor. All these reasons compel me to appeal to the IRC to fulfil its duty (within its competence) and to investigate how real is the right of political prisoners in the U SSR to medical care.”

E. Svertsyuk’s statement is one of many written by political prisoners of Camp 36 in May 1977 about camp medical treatment (see CCEs 46, 47).


M. Kiirend – “To the Executive Committee of the Soviet Societies of the Red Cross and the Red Crescent” (31 December 1977)

Kiirend gives a table, which he composed, based on the official food menus. It indicates the average quantity of food which a prisoner receives daily. The author takes into account the fact that the prisoner actually receives even less than this, as part of the food is inedible. Kiirend concludes from his calculations:

“The energy deficit is 436 calories, or 15%; the protein deficit is 27.2%, the figure for animal protein being 68%; the fats deficit is 64%, and that of mineral salt is 53%; the following vitamins are deficient: Vitamin A (100%), Keratin (78%), Vitamin B1 (8%), B2 (47%), PP (48%), C (63%).”


Ye. Pronyuk – “To the Director-General of the International Labour Office” (9 January 1978)

“A whole series of ILO conventions…, ratified by the USSR, have not come into force in this country. Just as in the first decades of the USSR’s existence, Soviet citizens today are being subjected to compulsory labour. Millions of them do not have the freedom to choose their work and are subject to discrimination when being hired (residence registration, nationality, Party membership, and other personal data). As a rule, discrimination is applied against dissidents, political opponents and believers. Pronyuk continues by elaborating his charges and giving concrete details.

“On the collective farms the situation is still that people are literally driven out to work. Compulsory labour is applied in the most barbaric form with regard to political prisoners. For failing to go to work, prisoners are punished with the cooler and transferred to a prison regime.”

Pronyuk cites the names of scientists and writers well known in the Ukraine, who have been deprived of the opportunity to work in their professions.

“Political prisoners have absolutely no freedom in choosing their work. They are all forced to do physical labour. The enforcement of labour on those who are incapable of doing it causes frequent traumas.”

Here Pronyuk cites the example of fellow-prisoners. The writer Sverstyuk, the artist Kiirend, and the engineer and pilot Dymshits work at the lathe; the Arabic literature specialist Ogurtsov works as a stoker, the lawyer Butman as a loader, the history teacher Kvetsko as a lavatory cleaner, and Pronyuk himself (a philosopher) works as a sewing-machine operator. In 1977 Ogurtsov, Sverstyuk, Kiirend, Butchenko and Shovkovoi suffered injuries at work.

Official revenge means that political prisoners’ families are subject to discrimination. The minimum they are deprived of is the chance to do creative work … The situation of former political prisoners in the USSR is grim and hopeless. They are permanently deprived of the opportunity to do creative work … They will never be allowed to publish their hooks, to exhibit their paintings, to teach students or children.

Pronyuk supports this statement with examples; members of the families of Moroz and Svetlichny have been dismissed from their teaching posts in secondary schools; members of Pronyuk’s family have been deprived of their work in scientific research; and former political prisoners – psychologist M. Goryn, lawyers Kandyba and Lukyanenko, teacher Pavlenkov, art historian N. Ivanov, and philologist Svetlichnaya – do physical labour.

Wages, working hours, rates of pay, etc, depend wholly on the one employer in the USSR – the state.

Tyranny in this area, according to Pronyuk, is particularly marked in the camps.

50% of the prisoners’ wages is deducted for use by the State. The wages are so low that after the various deductions almost nothing remains. In agreement with secret instructions, the total earnings of a prisoner (or of any convicted person) must not exceed 75% of the corresponding earnings of a free employee.

Political prisoners often go out into the world from the camp without any money, sometimes even those who have spent 25 years in prison …The productivity norms in the camp are rising sharply. Thus, since 1 December 1977 the norm for lathe operators has risen 45% and for stokers – 100% … 1. Ogurtsov refused to fulfil the impossible 200% norms, and for that, on 16 December, he was thrown into the cooler for seven days.

Political prisoners have only one day of rest in the week. The continuous duration of that rest is exactly 39 hrs, 54 mins. And, of course, there are no vacations, no extended rest. Day in, day out, work, work and more work (according to the same norms as those of free employees, but without rest and with abysmal nourishment). And so, it continues for 7, for 10, for 15, for 25 and more years!

On the grounds that prisoners’ labour lies at the root of state plans and guarantees the workforce of whole enterprises, factories and workshops, Pronyuk concludes that prisoners’ labour, by its very nature, falls into the category of slave labour. This violates the ILO Convention of 1930 concerning the abolition of slave labour. Listing a number of ILO Conventions violated in the USSR, Pronyuk writes that the Soviet Union in such cases refers to its internal laws, although “these internal “laws” arc nothing but legalized administrative tyranny elevated to the rank of law”, and they contradict international law and the international obligations assumed by the USSR.

In conclusion, Pronyuk requests that his statement be brought to the attention of ILO members and informs them that he is prepared to give ILO officers “further clarification and data if the ILO can provide such an opportunity”. (Several other prisoners from the Perm Camps also sent letters to the ILO).


I. Grabans – “Statement to the Presidium of the USSR Supreme Soviet” (20 March 1978)

Grabans describes the situation concerning his correspondence. His letters take 50-60 days to reach his relatives. The camp administration explains this by saying that the censorship must first have his letters translated from Latvian to Russian. Grabans protests “at the discrimination against non-Russian political prisoners … because of their refusal to renounce their mother tongue”.


M. Ravins – “To the Presidium of the USSR Supreme Soviet” (11 August 1978)

Ravins states that as a sympathizer-member of the Armenian National Unity Party he knows its position as one of “complete rejection of violent methods of political struggle”.

Therefore, the present charge against the NUP of organizing last year’s explosions in Moscow looks like a sinister resort to political provocation on the part of the authorities, the goal of which is to get rid of national minority opposition in the USSR.



Stepan Yakimovich MAMCHUR (1916-1977)

A fellow prisoner of S. Ya. Mamchur (Perm Camp 35) writes:

“For a long, long time we will hear the quiet voice of Pan Mamchur, and his image will appear before us to help us at difficult moments. His conscience will shine in the darkness, a conscience which has never known the temptations of compromise, the temptations of the easy way, the temptations of rest.”

The author recalls the tactfulness and refinement of Stepan Yakimovich:

“We have never had enough men like Pan Mamchur… never had enough of his wise and reliable strength, which, in spite of all odds, would nourish the roots, uphold tradition and unswervingly preserve the nation’s atmosphere for the young and the living … Stepan Mamchur was a rural intellectual, one of those activists who have spread ideas throughout villages and farms, who have shone with a quiet light of goodness and love, who have attracted young people and excited noble emotions in them …”

Part of the text of Mamchur’s obituary, together with the name of its author, have been lost. It is known that S. Ya. Mamchur was sentenced for his participation in the UPA (Ukrainian Insurrectionist Army) to 25 years’ deprivation of freedom.


S. Gluzman – “To the Director of the Main Administration for Corrective Labour Institutions of the MVD of the USSR” (25 April 1978)

In connection with a point contained in the new Rules on Internal Order (see above: “Order No. 37”), which forbids the giving in of statements about circumstances concerning other people, Gluzman expresses the supposition that camp informers will now be called upon to give information only about themselves.

“In this way, formerly immoral activities which rotted the soul will henceforth be replaced by useful and moral work with prisoners, which has as its aim goodness and lawfulness.

“Am I correct in my interpretation of the intentions of the Minister of Internal Affairs in the new rules?”



On 24 January, in Perm Camp 35, Lithuanian V. Babičas completed his 15-year sentence.

On 1 February Fabian Kurtinowski was released from Camp 35 on completion of his 25-year sentence for ‘military crimes’. Kurtinowski was a Pole. In 1957 he was informed by the office for the repatriation of Polish nationals from the U SSR that after his release he would be repatriated. In 1958 Kurtinowski’s sister returned to Poland from the Soviet Union. She still lives there today. On his release Kurtinowski was refused immediate repatriation. He was sent to Vilnius.

The remaining members of the “Galician Union of Ukrainian Youth”, arrested in spring 1973 (CCEs 33, 45), have been released. On 15 March Vasily Shovkovoi completed his 5-year sentence (See “After Release”, CCE 51.//). On 13 April Dmitry Demidov (CCE 49) completed his sentence. Dmitry Grinkiv, who received the longest sentence (7+3), was released on I September in the town of Kolomiya (in Ivano-Frankovsk Region). He was granted a pardon at his parents’ request.

On 16 March Ivan Gromyak was released from Camp 35 upon completion of his 25-year sentence. Gromyak is a peasant from Lvov Region. He was accused of being a member of the OUN and distributing OUN literature.

On 17 March, Julis Dubauskas was released from Camp 35, having served a 25-year sentence for his participation in the Lithuanian partisan movement.

On 13 May Jonas Kadzionis was taken from Camp 36 to Perm prison. On 24 May he was released on completion of his sentence. He was sentenced to 25 years’ deprivation of freedom for his participation in the Lithuanian partisan movement (as a district partisan leader).

In May V. K. Bogdanov was released from Camp 36. He had served 10 years under Article 64 of the Russian Criminal Code (CCEs 44, 45).

On 28 May Anatoly Malkin completed his 3-year sentence (CCE 37). He completed it while working “on chemical construction” (CCE 42).

On 15 June Izrail Zalmanson was released on completion of his 8-year sentence for his involvement in the “Aeroplane Case’ (CCE 17). Before his release he was transferred from Vladimir Prison to Lefortovo, then to Riga Prison, where he was granted a two-hour meeting with his relatives. Soon afterwards he left the USSR.

In June Taivo Praks was removed from camp just before his release upon completion of his sentence. He is from Estonia, and his mother is Finnish. As a boy during the war the Germans took him to Finland. After the war he returned as a displaced person. He ended up in Leningrad. The security organs began to take an interest in him. Then he went to Estonia and went “into the forest” [i.e., joined the underground]. In 1953 Praks was arrested and received 25 years under Article 58 of the old Criminal Code.

In June Yury Khramtsov (CCE 45) was released from Mordovian Camp 19 on completion of his sentence. He was sent to an invalid home in Mordovia, from which he managed to extract himself with difficulty. At present he lives in Tarusa.

On 3! July Vitold Abankin was removed from Camp 36. On 4 August, on completion of his 12-year sentence (CCE 48.//), he was released in Rostov, where he lived before joining the Army. He was taken to Rostov in handcuffs. On 5 August Abankin set off to visit his uncle in Leningrad, but was removed from the train, returned to Rostov and placed under surveillance. Soon after his release Abankin went into hospital (acute arthritis of an infected and allergic nature, cholecystitis, gastritis, renitis, double otitis).

On 19 August Yury Dzyuba, on completion of his 5-year sentence (there is a mistake in CCE 46),// was released from Camp 36 (he was sentenced for “preparation of letters of an anti-Soviet nature”). Dzyuba settled with his parents in Kharkov. At the end of September, after Dzyuba had been to Moscow and tried to meet the American consul, he was placed under surveillance.

In August Stepan Soroka (b. 1932) was released from Camp 35 on completion of his 25-year sentence [CCE 38]. In 1952 Soroka, as a second-year student, was arrested and accused of creating in his village (Krichilsk, Saransk district. Rovno Region) an OUN youth organization, and received 25 years. In 1956, on a resolution of a Supreme Soviet Commission, he was released, but in 1957 he was returned to the camp to complete his sentence. After his release Soroka returned to his village.

On 22 August Felix Serebrov (CCEs 47, 48), a member of the Working Commission to Investigate the Use of Psychiatry for Political Purposes, was released on completion of his 1-year sentence from Mordovian Camp 11.

On 1 September Mikhail Lutsik (see “Biographies”) was given his freedom.

On 20 September N. A. Budulak-Sharygin (see “Biographies”) was taken from Mordovian Camp 19 and released in Kalinin.

On 2 October Nikolai Semyonovich KONCHALOVSKY (b. 1919) was released after 28 years in prison, Konchalovsky was arrested in 1950; for his involvement in the OUN and UPA he received 25 years. Three years were added to this while he was in camp, when he was found in possession of some tea, which was forbidden at that time. On 13 September Konchalovsky was taken from Camp 19 to Lvov. On his release he was placed under surveillance, Konchalovsky settled in his native village; virtually the whole village came out to meet him. On 18 November N. S. Konchalovsky died.

On 19 November Vasily Shatalov finished serving his 2-year sentence (CCE 48; for his father’s trial see the present issue).

In the summer Pyotr Saranchuk was released from Camp 19 on completion of his sentence. First, he had been on special regime, then he was transferred to strict regime.

Lithuanian Antanas Kazakevičius (CCE 33) was released from Camp 36 after completing his 25-year sentence.

Valery Shushunin and Georgy Gimpu were released from Camp 37 on completing their sentences for “anti-Soviet agitation and propaganda” (on Gimpu see CCEs 39, 40, 43).



[1] “To do chemistry” (Ru. “на химию”) meant to be sent to work in toxic workshops or lines of production where little attention was paid to health or safety. An additional punishment to deprivation of liberty.

[2] The letter to Sakharov was published in full in Kontinent, No. 19, 1979, with a foreword by Sakharov.