Samizdat Update, May 1977 (45.20)

<<No 45 : 25 May 1977>>

[1]

M. I. Kukobaka – “Détente and the Defence of Human Rights are Inseparable” (3 April 1977, 9 pp)

The author criticizes those Western politicians who consider that President Carter’s human rights policy is prejudicial to détente (‘dangerous illusions’) and maintains that the best guarantee for the observance of any treaty or undertaking is “the will of the people, which can be expressed only where basic liberties are observed”.

Kukobaka associates the vast scale of repression under Stalin, the current criminal and psychiatric persecution, the infringement of the sovereignty of other States (Hungary, Czechoslovakia), and the suppression of entire nations (the Crimean Tatars, the Jews) with the infringement of human rights. He also writes about economic difficulties and social problems (especially drunkenness), and says:

“In order to conceal the true state of affairs and make it impossible for their own citizens to draw comparisons, the Soviet authorities have grossly infringed the Universal Declaration of Human Rights [1948] … in any case this Declaration has never been given wide publication in the Soviet Union, and its propagation is suppressed by the authorities, if in unofficial ways”, (the author himself recently underwent punishment in this regard, see CCE 43).

“Without internal détente,” the author writes, “there can be no international détente.”

[2]

T. Khodorovich, V. Nekipelov – “Oprichnina 1977: Political Reprisals using Criminal Means” (4 May 1977, 13 pp)

“For many years in the Soviet Union the State has conducted reprisals against so-called ‘dissenters’, against political and moral objectors, indeed against anyone who attempts to defend his rights or even to make reference to them — by sentencing them on trumped-up criminal charges, that is, political reprisals by criminal means. This process is one of the most repellent desecrations, rather than infringements, not only of rights and legality, but of all generally accepted human principles of decency and honour.”

After citing many examples, the authors conclude:

“This article makes no claims to be complete. We merely wish to draw attention to the problem. We hope that somebody will set about drawing up a complete and accurate list of all the criminal abominations to which the present regime in Russia has recourse in order to suppress free thought. This may be an unpleasant task, but it has vital historical importance for the true moral verdict that will one day be delivered on the Soviet oprichnina of the 1970s.”

[3]

A.S. – “Some Observations on the Party and the State in the System of the Communist Mentality” (1977)

The author of this work invites his readers to examine a particular phenomenon of the communist mentality, beginning his survey with a definition of the mutual relationship of the concepts ‘Party’ and ‘State’ in the system of this mentality. The Party, which by definition means a ‘part’, strives to present its interests as those of the whole, the State. The author gives some examples of obvious divergences and conflicts of interests between these two colossuses.

In particular, the position of the Party on political trials can be explained as follows: that the Party, taking refuge behind the interests of the State, demands unconditional loyalty to itself from every citizen, and to this end wilfully infringes the law of the land. The legal activities of the Party correspond to those of the State and are designed purely for show. Its true activities invariably take place behind the scenes, in conditions of secrecy. Turning to the system of covertly and overtly illegal activities associated with Bolshevism, the author examines their historical origins.

The work ends with a study of the problems that foreign Communist Parties face in their relations with the State. The author also touches on the inevitable limitations which the communist system of thought imposes on its adherents.

[4]

J. Dyadkin – “The Silent Players” (1976, 56 pp)

The author asks: what effect did collectivization, industrialization, famine, the Patriotic War [1941-1945] and mass repression have on the rate of population growth in our country? A computation of these losses would, in the author’s opinion, provide the basis for a moral appraisal of the “historic achievements” described by official historians.

As the author had access only to the official published figures of the USSR Central Statistical Board, he has had to make a number of estimates, e.g., for birth and mortality rates for a number of years. The reader can check the figures for him/her self.

Dyadkin arrived at the following totals:

  • 1926-1936 — over 11 million men, women, and children perished as a result of class warfare;
  • 1937-1940 — approximately 4.3 million were shot or perished in the Gulag and on the Karelian isthmus;
  • 1941-1949 — approximately 31 million were killed at the front, or perished from privation or repression;
  • 1950-1954 — approximately 0.5 million died from forced labour conditions in the camps.                           

“All these calculations,” the author states, “are based on conservative estimates.”

Regarding Professor Kurganov’s estimate of 60 million dead – to which A. I. Solzhenitsyn referred in his “Letter to the Soviet Leaders” [1973] – Dyadkin writes:

“Possibly Kurganov had in mind not only the dead but the overall loss to the Soviet Union (i.e., the number of dead plus the fall in the birth-rate, Chronicle). If so, his estimate is not unreasonable, if the whole pre-war period, from 1917 onwards, is taken into account.”

[5]

V. Albrecht – “In Search of the Essence. Leaves from a Diary” (19 pp)

A number of episodes are described: a visit to a Spanish trade office (the author went there as a member of the Soviet Amnesty International group); Conversations with police; Arrest (reason: “he looked like someone who had robbed a citizen of 52 kopecks”); a Visit to OVIR; Detectives and being shadowed.

[6]

Z. Gamsakhurdia – “The Trial of Tbilisi Prison Officials” (January 1977, 60 pp)

Fifty-four pages are taken up by the text of the indictment (translated from Georgian) and an account of the closed trial in Case No. 10669, which took place in May 1976. The trial was concerned with the same torture practices in Investigations Prison No. 1 which came to light at the public trial in April 1975 of the agents Tsirekhidze and Usupyan, who had beaten the convict Ismailov to death (CCE 36.6.2). After this case received widespread publicity — at the time the presiding judge allowed Gamsakhurdia, as a writer, to make a thorough investigation of what had happened — in November 1975 the Board of the Supreme Court of the Georgian SSR increased Tsirekhidze’s sentence to 10 years and Usupyan’s to 8.

In Case No. 10669, which was separated from the Tsirekhidze-Usupyan case, senior operations officer Frolov (who directed the convict torturers) and warders of Special Block 2 Koblianidze, [Yuza] Dzhangiani, and [E.] Lkhinadze were accused of “abusing their official status, and systematically committing acts which violated the requirements of their duty, thus harming the interests of the State and the interests of individual convicts — acts which led to especially serious consequences”; two of them were also accused of corruption. Frolov, who had personally beaten up convicts, was sentenced to 4 years in camps (he had been at liberty until the time of the trial), Koblianidze and Dzhangiani to 3 and 5 years respectively. Lkhinadze escaped before the conclusion of the trial.

Zviad Gamsakhurdia, 1939-1993

Gamsakhurdia’s six-page article, which prefaces the transcript of the trial, comments on the euphemistic formulation of the indictment, which “makes no mention of the fact that this torture had official sanction”, “investigates only three or four cases of beatings” (at the first trial it was stated that about 200 prisoners had been crippled), and “is obviously intended … to conceal the guilt of those in high office by putting all the blame on their subordinates”.

The article states that the system of torture and extortion was applied both to prisoners charged with ‘economic’ crimes, and to those who had merely “fallen victim of the arbitrary rule of administrative mafias”, also that in Block 2 of Investigation Prison No. 1, “which was established in 1966 by Eduard Shevardnadze (then Minister of Internal Affairs, Chronicle) and his assistants” expressly for the ‘special treatment’ of people under investigation, “the violation of procedures and disregard for the law reached their height in 1972-1973”. The author stresses that this took place immediately after the CPSU Central Committee had passed a resolution [Pravda, 6 March 1973] which, as he puts it, “described Georgia as a hotbed of nationalism and corruption”, and following Shevardnadze’s appointment as First Secretary of the Central Committee of the Georgian Communist Party, when, “according to the official propaganda … he set about ‘restoring order in the republic’.”

[7]

Sakartvelos moambe (Georgian Herald)

At the end of 1976 there appeared two duplicated issues of the Georgian samizdat journal Sakartvelos moambe, edited by Z. Gamsakhurdia and M. Kostava.

The first issue opens with an editorial summary:

“… The journal Georgian Herald is intended to provide the people of Georgia with information both on current national and social problems and on the general state of affairs in the Soviet Union. It will publish documents of Soviet and international law, as well as essential information for making an accurate appraisal of the present situation of Georgia …”

Among the contents of the first issue are

  • the Universal Declaration of Human Rights,
  • a speech by N. Samkharadze on the teaching of Georgian history in the republic’s schools, and the following articles:
  • “The Government Bans Religious Festivals on the Pretext of ‘a campaign against harmful customs’”; by T. D. Dzhanelidze (see CCE 42);
  • “The Church and the Communists” by V. Pailodze;
  • “On the Condition of Cultural Monuments in Georgia” by Z. Gamsakhurdia;
  • “Wages and Prices in the Georgian SSR” by K, Labadze; and
  • “Arson and Sabotage in Georgia in 1976” by G. Tvaltvadze.

The second issue contains the article “A Crime against the Georgian People: the Tragedy of the Meskhetians” by V. Rtskhiladze, and a review of A. D. Sakharov’s book My Country and the World by M. Kostava.

[8]

Okros satsmisi (The Golden Fleece) – No. 4, end of 1976.

A summary of the first issue of this samizdat journal was given in CCE 38.

Issue No. 4 contains a report on a session of the United States Congress on 13 March 1975 at which a letter written by the Georgian Patriarch Amvrosy (in 1922) on the enslavement of Georgia by Soviet Russia was read out and discussed. In the section “Poetry” the poem “Georgia” by G. Tabidze and a previously unpublished poem by Vazha-Pshavela are printed. The journal also contains the text of R. Dzhaparidze’s address to the Eighth Writers’ Congress of Georgia and the “Unspoken Speech” by Z. Gamsakhurdia at this congress (CCE 42). An article “Let us Return the Meskhetians their Homeland” by M. Kostava is printed in a special section under the same heading.

[9]

Laisves Sauklys (Herald of Freedom) – Nos. 1-3, 1976

The first issue of this “unofficial paper for free Lithuanians” appeared in May 1976. It opens with an article, “Free Lithuanians in an Enslaved Lithuania”, in which the author notes the existence in Lithuania of ‘free Lithuanians’ who have retained their inner freedom and desire for manifest freedom in spite of 35 years of occupation.

A short history is given of the Lithuanian national liberation movement: the uprising in 1863, the appearance in 1883 of the first Lithuanian newspaper Ausra, printed in East Prussia and smuggled into Lithuania, the partisan campaign in 1944-53, the demonstrations by young people in Kaunas and Vilnius on 2 November 1956 (remembrance day for the dead, it coincided with the events in Hungary; several hundreds of the demonstrators were arrested and expelled from educational establishments), Romas Kalanta’s self-immolation on 14 May 1972, and the publishing of the first issue of the Chronicle of the Lithuanian Catholic Church on 19 March of the same year.

An article “The Task Before Us” sets out the publication’s aims: to resist the misinformation of the Lithuanian people; to resist the division of Lithuanians into religious believers and those “indifferent to religion”; to help young people to acquire religious values and to encourage them to read religious books.

An account of the incorporation of Lithuania into the USSR is given in an article “The Bolshevik Revolution in the Commissariat Offices of Berlin and Moscow and in the Soviet Embassy in Kaunas.”

An article “In Remembrance of Tragic Days” commemorates the anniversary of the first deportation of Lithuanians (36,000 according to the article) on 14-15 June 1941.

The section “Documents on the Socialist Revolution in Lithuania” gives some extracts from a document signed by A. Snieskus, Director of the Department of State Security in the ‘National Government’ of Lithuania, and later for many years Secretary of the Central Committee of the Lithuanian Communist Party. This document is the directive which caused more than fifteen hundred members of the Lithuanian intelligentsia to be arrested on the night of 11-12 July 1940, shortly before the elections to the Seimas [i.e., Parliament].

The second issue of the paper appeared in June. The historical theme is represented by an article “The Uprising of 23 June 1941”. An article “By Lake Visaginas” describes the construction of an atomic power station as an instance of colonization: “The Russians are building a town for Russians to live in. An article “Why Lithuania is being Plied with Vodka” gives some statistics and some conclusions drawn from them. There are also items on the activities of Party leaders in Lithuania.

Under the heading “From the Annals of the Lithuanian Resistance” the text is given of a leaflet distributed in Vilnius and Kaunas on 9 May 1975, which asserts that the NKVD [earlier title for the KGB] used to offer a bounty of 600 roubles to anyone handing over a partisan, alive or dead, and double that amount for a commander.

The third issue, dated July-August 1976, contains an article, “The Victorious are not Called to Account”, on events during the liberation of Vilnius by Soviet forces, at a time when some areas of the city were controlled by the resistance army.

In an article “Morality without Religion” a critique of ‘class’ morality is illustrated by a description of the mutual relations of Catholics and communists in Lithuania during the German occupation and the post-war period. The article stresses that religious believers, priests, and even former officials of the Department of State Security helped to save the lives of communists and their families, by concealing files on communists who had been imprisoned in Lithuania before the war.

[10]

Tiesos Kelias (The Path of Truth) – No. 1, January 1977, 53 pp.

A collection of articles aimed at the clergy of Lithuania. Besides articles on Lithuania and on Church affairs, it also contains articles on the persecution of priests in Rhodesia, Brazil, Chile and Paraguay.

[11]

Aušra (The Dawn) — No. 5 (45) 16 February 1977; and No. 6 (46) 12 May 1977

Contents of No. 5:

  • an appeal to the leaders of the Italian, French, and Spanish Communist Parties with information on arrests and house searches at the end of 1976 and a request to help Lithuania;
  • an article commemorating the fiftieth anniversary of the death of a prominent figure in the Lithuanian liberation movement J, Basanavičius [1851-1927], founder of the original Aušra in 1883;
  • a note on the life and works of the Lithuanian author Ragana Satrijos [pen-name of Marija Pečkauskaite, 1877-1930];
  • an article on the situation of Lithuanians in Belorussia;
  • information on the persecution of people actively interested in national history and customs;
  • a letter addressed to the Human Rights Committee by seventy-year-old L. Andriukaitiene, describing a search of her home on 15 September 1976;
  • and general news.

No. 6:

Contains a further article on Basanavičius, the second part of the article on Lithuanians in Belorussia, and an article written by Tarutis in reply to a letter by the father of Mindaugas Tamonis, who perished in November 1975 (CCEs 38, 39); the letter was published in the USA. Tarutis dismisses the official story that Tomanis committed suicide; in his view the letter was written at the instigation of the authorities.

Both these issues contain news of current events.

[12]

A series of brochures published together as The Struggle against the Dictatorship of State Atheism. The Bases of True Freedom of Conscience and Equal Rights (95 pp).

The publishers call themselves “The True Witness”.

The Law-Based Struggle against the Dictatorship of State Atheism is the overall title of a series of eight numbered brochures; the cover carries the design of a book and crucifix over two crossed swords.

1. The Relation between Statehood and Religion: “A Struggle against the Image of a Beast” (90 pp)

2. Pure and Corrupt Religion (117 pp)

3. The Persecution of True Christians (115 pp)

4. Lenin’s Decree and Other Official Documents (118 pp)

5. Documents of International Law concerning Human Rights: the Declaration, the Convention, the Covenants (278 pp)

6. The Legislation on Religious Faiths of 8 April 1929 (193 pp)

7. From the Pages of Atheist Literature: An Expose of Official Evasions, Ruses, and Excuses Aimed at Justifying the Criminal Lawlessness of the Modern Type (a Copy of “The Workings of the Papist Beast”) and Persecution and Discrimination against Religious Citizens (180 pp)

8. A Refutation of Unjust Accusations (424 pp)

The brochures explain for the benefit of “present-day God-fearing people” the inalienable Rights of Man, with excerpts from appropriate international documents (the [1948] Declaration of Human Rights is given in full). The reader is reminded of “the sacred and unconditional right of parents to religious education for their children” and the greater importance of international standards over those obtaining in one country.

Lenin’s declarations on religion, the Decree of the Council of People’s Commissars dated 23 January 1918, and Article 13 of the 1918 Lenin Constitution (“Freedom of religious and anti-religious propaganda”) are contrasted with

[1] Article 124 of Stalin’s Constitution (which permits only anti-religious propaganda) and

[2] with the resolutions and directives issued between 1929 and 1968, and

[3] the ‘sophistry’ and ‘casuistry’ of “today’s State writers” who interpret the principle of freedom of conscience correctly as regards pre-revolutionary Russia but distortedly regarding the present day.

Analysis is made of the dishonest polemical methods of the ‘State atheists’, of their distortion of the interrelation of religion and science, and of the illegal persecution of religious believers. The ‘official religions’ arc rebuked for extolling “the freedoms of their official conscience” in exchange for small concessions. The authors reject as ‘criminal’ the linking of both religion and atheism with the State, which must take a neutral position on matters of faith and unbelief. The authors offer instruction on how to react when faced with false accusations, and in particular recommend their readers to answer for themselves alone, to be prepared to endure hardships, to maintain a sacred silence in the face of “those with evil intentions” and to avoid getting into religious disputes with such people.

[13]

The Herald of Truth, No. 2 (54), 1976 — A journal of the Baptist Council of Churches.

In a brief account of the first issue (CCE 43) the permanent sections of this magazine were listed. In this issue, the section “Pray for Them” features Anatoly Rublenko (b. 1949) and Olga Nikora (b. 1950), who in 1974 were each sentenced in Nikolayev to 8 years’ imprisonment under Articles 138 and 209 of the Ukrainian Criminal Code (corresponding to Articles 142 and 227 of the Russian Code).

This issue also contains the autobiography of S. T. Golev, who recently died at the age of 80 and was one of the first leaders of the ‘Initsiativniki’ [‘reform’] Baptists. Golev describes the “immense freedom” enjoyed by Baptists in the first post-revolutionary years, replaced at the end of the 1920s by savage persecution. Golev experienced the full force of this persecution, spending a total of more than twenty years in prison.

At the end of the issue is a table showing the “distribution of Baptists in the world” (figures, for 1974-5, of the World Baptist Alliance). Altogether there are 33,493,000 Baptists in the world, of whom 29,380,000 are in the USA. Next in number of Baptists comes India, with 734,000, then the USSR (535,000).