Commentary 19 (April 1971)

No 19 : 30 April 1971

19.1 The arrest of Vladimir Bukovsky

1. Vsevolod Kochetov’s hard-line novel What is it you want? (Chego zhe ty khochesh?) was published in the journal Oktyabr, of which he is the editor, in late 1969 (Nos. 9-11). A number of parodies appeared shortly afterwards in samizdat: this one (in Russian: Chego zhe ty khokhochesh?) is by S. S. Smirnov and its text is in Possev No 6, 1970 (pp. 57-59).

2. The text of Bukovsky’s 1967 speech is in Pavel Litvinov, The Demonstration in Pushkin Square, London, 1969. pp, 87-95.

3. An English translation of Bukovsky’s interview is in Survev, London, no. 77, 1970, pp. 139-145.

4. Bukovsky’s collection of documents were included in the big compilation Kaznimy sumashestviem [Punished with Madness], Possev-Verlag. //Pol. Some of the materials are due to appear in English in Survey No. 81 and they are analyzed in a booklet by Cornelia Mee, The Internment of Soviet Dissenters in Mental Hospitals, John Arliss Ltd, Cambridge.

5. For Bukovsky’s appeal to Western psychiatrists see Mee. op. cit.; The Times, 12 March 1971; and the British Journal of Psychiatry, London, August 1971, p. 226, where Dr. Derek Richter calls on fellow-psychiatrists to respond to Bukovsky’s appeal. The first large scale response, critical of Soviet practices, came in a letter to The Times from 44 prominent psychiatrists on 16 September.

6. The issue of Soviet psychiatric practices is to be discussed at the congress of the World Psychiatric Association in Mexico City, 28 November to 4 December 1971.

7. N. Bukovskaya’s letter, dated 13 April, appears in summary form in a DPA report, Suddeutsche Zeitung, Munich, 15 April 1971, also in Corriere della Sera, Milan, 14 April.

8. The letter to the 24th Party Congress is summarized by A. Astrachan in the Washington Post and The Guardian (3 April 1971). P. Yakir, A. Volpin and A, Levitin were among the signatories. Krasnov-Levitin’s article is in Vestnik RSKhD, 91 rue Olivier de Serres, Paris 15. No. 99, 1971 (pp. 136-142).

19.2 Notes by Vladimir Gershuni from Oryol SPH

9. On Gershuni see Chronicles 10.15 News in brief [item 18], 11.6 The arrest of Vladimir Gershuni, 13.1 The trial of Vladimir Gershuni, 17.12 News in brief [items 15 & 16] and 18.1 Political prisoners in psychiatric hospitals. Also an article with a photograph of him in The Economist, London, 31 July 1971.

The Chronicle‘s account of his arrest (11.6) describes him in the following terms:

Vladimir Lvovich Gershuni (b. 1930) is a nephew of the founder of the Socialist-Revolutionary Party, G. A. Gershuni. In 1949 Vladimir Gershuni was arrested and sentenced by decision of the Special Board [i.e. in effect by the security police] to ten years in special camps for his part in an anti-Stalin youth group. … Vladimir Gershuni was tortured during the investigation. He was in the same camp which Solzhenitsyn describes in his story “One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich”, at the same time as the author.

Gershuni is a man with an unusually highly developed instinct for justice. For him, the struggle against lies and violence is not a part of life, but the whole of it. He cannot reconcile himself with any manifestations of Stalinism. Gershuni signed, amongst other documents exposing injustice, the appeal to the United Nations Commission on Human Rights.

Further notes from Sidney Bloch and Peter Reddaway, Russia’s Political Hospitals, 1978 (Futura publishers: London, pbk)

[9 (a) The Oryol SPH opened in the early 1970s. It was housed (says Alexander Podrabinek) “on the same territory as the Oryol Central Prison”, hence Gershuni’s comparison between the two.

The Leningrad SPH, in similar fashion, had been a women’s prison until 1948 and was located next to the “Kresty” (Crosses) remand or pre-trial detention centre//.

[9 (b) Whatever their medical training, those in charge of running the SPH were answerable not to the Ministry of Health but to the MVD, the Ministry of Internal Affairs, p. //.

[9 (c)] Use of medical preparations. The drugs mentioned by Gershuni are described as follows in Bloch and Reddaway: haloperidol – a powerful tranquilizer used for some major psychiatric disorders (p. 72); and aminazin (largactil) – a tranquilier, described by Andrei Dubrov (p. 191) as “the panacea of Soviet psychiatry”.

Wikipedia refers to trifluoperazine or triftazin as “a typical antipsychotic …  The primary application of trifluoperazine is for schizophrenia”.

19.3 The hunger strike of Vladimir Borisov and Victor Fainberg

1. A summary of Borisov’s trial can be found in CCE 11.10 and in Possev: Tretii i spetsialnyi vypusk, April 1970. On Fainberg see N. Gorbanevskaya’s Red Square at Noon, soon to be published by Deutsch.

2. Sakharov’s letter to the Ministers of Health and Internal Affairs were summarized by Frank Taylor in The Daily Telegraph, London, 20 March 1971, together with Fainberg’s and Borisov’s appeal.

3. There is a summary of Fainberg’s interview with the commission in Esprit, 19 rue Jacob, Paris 6, No: 7-8, 1971, pp. 54-58.

4. Sakharov’s second letter of 30 March is briefly summarized in The Guardian and The Washington Post, 3 April 1971, full text in Peace News, 5 Caledonian Road, London, N.l, 25 June.

5. The letter to WHO from the wives of Borisov and Fainberg was summarized in a Reuter’s dispatch, cited in The Observer, 25 April 1971.

19.4 The Fate of Members of ASCULP

1. See also the important document in Possev 1, 1971 (pp. 38-43) about the group.

2. According to CCE 1.6 Vagin’s sentence was ten years.

3. Chronicle 1.6 incorrectly reported Ivoilov’s sentence as two not six years.

4. See Alexander Petrov-Agatov’s vivid description of Borodin and Sado in Possev 3, 1971, pp. 20-27.