The Mordovian camps
(continued from “In the Prisons and Camps”, 48.10)
In December 1977 Alexei Murzhenko was deprived of the right to a parcel and a scheduled visit which would fall due in February. In the middle of December, he declared a hunger-strike. He was taken to Saransk. After a few days, his wife Lyubov Murzhenko received a telegram from Saransk informing her that in view of the serious deterioration of his state of health, her husband had been allowed a visit. The telegram was certified by a doctor. In Saransk, just after 20 December he was given a special 3-day visit and allowed a large provisions parcel with the right to take it with him to camp.
In response to Lyubov Murzhenko’s complaint, the Procurator acknowledged the ruling depriving A. Murzhenko of a visit to be illegal, since a number of inaccuracies had been made in completing the record of the deprivation.
For not going out to work on 25 February 1978 Alexei Murzhenko was again deprived of a scheduled visit which should have taken place on 28 February. In the camp Lyubov Murzhenko was told: “Last time we made mistakes in completing the formalities for the deprivation, but we won’t make any more.”
In the camp there have been several cases of political prisoners being beaten up: Yu.P. Fyodorov was beaten up by Senior Lieutenant Petrov and Corporals Stolyarov and Shukin; B.V. Rebrik was beaten up by Senior Lieutenant Polivanov and Corporal Glinov.
After Rebrik’s beating, 14 political prisoners of the zone held a one-week hunger-strike in protest.
In the summer of 1977, Bogdan Rebrik was taken to Ivano-Frankovsk. On 7 July 1977 in the Brigitki Transit Prison in Lvov Rebrik refused to take off his little crucifix, which he wore next to his skin. For this he was beaten up by the duty officer and warders who assisted him. Throwing Rebrik into a basement cell, the senior lieutenant poured several buckets of cold water onto the floor, repeating: “We’ll see if your God will dry up this cement, and if he does — we’ll pour on some more.”
On 26 October 1977 during the train journey from Ivano-Frankovsk to Kiev the transit escort began to take Rebrik’s crucifix from him by force. Rebrik swallowed it. The enraged escorts beat Rebrik up.
In December 1977 Ivan Gel (Ukr. Hel) held a prolonged hunger-strike, trying to get himself sent off to hospital. He complains of constant pain in the heart.
In December-January Vasily Romanyuk was in Ivano-Frankovsk in the KGB prison. At the same time Mikhail Osadchy was also taken from the camp.
At the beginning of November 1977 nine prisoners in Camp 1 received letters from a Dnepropetrovsk Prison from S. Shinkevich (CCE 45), who had been taken there from Camp 1. These letters contain insults against the political prisoners and call on the common criminals to group together and beat up the political prisoners. (In accordance with the Corrective Labour Code correspondence between prisoners who are not relatives is forbidden.)
Shinkevich was transferred to prison for a review of his case, and as a result he was declared not guilty of an especially dangerous crime against the state.
Camps 3 and 19
On 2 December 1977, Mykola Rudenko (CCEs 44-47) was brought to Camp 19. When he was searched on entering the camp his verses were taken away from him. M. Rudenko kept up a hunger-strike for three days in protest against this.
Razmik Markosyan, who was taken in summer 1977 to Armenia (CCE 47), had still not returned to camp by mid-February.
On 12 January 1978 Vyacheslav Chornovil’s camp term ended. After a month-and-a-half in transit he arrived at his [Far Eastern] place of exile: the Yakut ASSR, Lenin District, Chappanda settlement.
His sentence was 6 years of camp and 3 years of exile (in CCE 29 and in the appendix to CCE 46 his sentence is given incorrectly).
In mid-January at the end of a 6-year-term Irina Stasiv-Kalynets (CCE 24, 28) was sent into exile. Before this Lieutenant-Colonel Badin read to her from some piece of paper that “by decision of a court” she had been deprived of the right to work in her profession and had to be sent to heavy physical labour. Stasiv replied: No court had issued any such decision, and if force was applied to her, she would find a means to defend herself, even at the cost of returning to the camp.
Transit to her place of exile took 40 days. Vyacheslav Chornovil was taken by the same convoy. From a letter of Irina’s:
“During the whole journey they tried not to let me meet Vyacheslav… In Krasnoyarsk there was frightful filth. I and two fellow travellers demanded that I be transferred from a damp, sickeningly filthy cell to a cleaner one. We were transferred, but even in the other cell we were devoured by bedbugs.
“In Irkutsk we were kept with all the other women in a damp basement cell, where wood-lice crawled over the beds. Here I felt I was nearly dead and asked for a doctor, but none was called.
“In Chita I was kept for a whole night in a little isolation-cell, then taken to a punishment cell and not permitted to lie down on the plank-bed. I became upset and Captain Semenishchev ran up, shouted like a cockerel and threatened that I would be transferred to the punishment regime (i.e., that the bed would be taken away). I declared a hunger-strike. That was on Sunday. But the next day I was transferred to an ordinary cell, given books from the library, and the authorities were extremely polite. This politeness from the authorities, the exaggerated affability and readiness to satisfy lawful demands were astonishing. Evidently there was some instruction relating to both Slava [Chornovil] and myself.
“I cannot complain especially about the transport-convoy — at present everyone is given a mattress and a bed. But the ration is terribly meagre, disgracefully meagre — just one rotten little fish and some dry bread for an entire day. It depends on the escort whether or not to give us unboiled water more than twice a day…
“Before we set off Slava and I were given the chance to spend ten roubles in the prison shop.
I. Stasiv-Kalynets’s [east Siberian] place of exile is: Chita Region, Baleisky district, Undinovo settlement.
The 6-year term of her husband Igor Kalynets (CCE 28), who is in Perm Camp 36, ends in summer 1978. After this he also faces 3 years’ exile. He appealed to be allowed to serve his period of exile together with his wife. The reply was that this question would be decided before his release.
14 people remained in the women’s political zone of Camp 3 (ZhKh 385/3-4) in January 1978. Only Galina Selivonchik (CCEs 16, 33) is working.
Women political prisoners have noted a more humane treatment since the arrival of the new head of Camp 3, I.E. Zhatkin. The living conditions have slightly improved: repairs have been carried out and a radiator heating system installed. However, the zone, which was already cramped, has been further reduced by four square metres.
The 100-day campaign for the status of political prisoner (CCEs 45-47) provoked extreme harshness by the authorities. Participants were repeatedly promised: “We’ll let you rot. We’ll cripple you.” Not one statement to the Procuracy or elsewhere was accepted for dispatch.
During the campaign political prisoners who had transferred to the status were almost constantly in the punishment barracks or the punishment cell. They lasted only two or three days in the zone. Kheifets managed to spend only a few hours in the zone and Osipov spent a couple of days in the punishment barracks in the intervals between being in the punishment cells.
The following statement by Osipov is known:
“We always felt what a thin line separates all of us here from physical destruction. But now, as a result of the 100-day campaign for the status we have seen for ourselves (and would like the world to see) that for human dignity in its most elementary manifestation the penalty here is death.”
Airikyan, Chornovil and Osipov were held for a long time in a damp and cold part of the camp prison, where on the orders of the administration they were deprived of warm linen and slept on cold boards. As a result, over the course of several months they ran temperatures in the morning of 37.2° Centrigrade, which rose in the evening to 38-40°. It is known that Chornovil has chronic tonsilitis and mouth ulcers and that Osipov has tuberculosis (CCE 47).
In the autumn, all three were in hospital, but from there they were again returned to the punishment barracks. They were not informed of the results of medical investigations and no treatment was prescribed — the conclusion was given out as ‘healthy’. After leaving the punishment barracks they were, as formerly, running temperatures, but were given no help by the camp medical staff. It was in this condition that Chornovil was taken for transport into exile.
In February Airikyan felt significantly worse and was transferred from the punishment barracks to the camp sick-bay with a diagnosis of “angina”.
Airikyan and Osipov are trying to obtain transfer to an MVD special hospital (in Rostov or Leningrad).
In December 1977 Airikyan, Chornovil and Osipov sent a letter to the International Red Cross. They ask for attempts to be made to get the authorities to give them the chance of recovering their health.
In January 1978 Vladimir Osipov was summoned to a medical commission in connection with his wife’s complaints. The commission, without making any examination, issued a diagnosis of ‘healthy’.
After this Osipov was transferred to work in a ‘dangerous’ workshop.
In the autumn and winter participants of the campaign for political status Airikyan, Budulak-Sharygin, Osipov, Ravins, Soldatov, Ushakov, Kheifets, Chornovil and Shakirov marked several dates with hunger-strikes:
- 4-8 October 1977 — the opening of the [CSCE] Conference in Belgrade;
- 30 October — Political Prisoners’ Day;
- 4 November — the anniversary of Yury Galanskov’s death;
- 10 December — Human Rights Day ;
- 12 January 1978 — the anniversary of the 1972 arrests in the Ukraine.
(Chornovil, who was at that time in exile, did not take part in the hunger-strike. Mykola Rudenko observed a hunger-strike for this cause from 12-14 January.)
Paruir Airikyan also observed a hunger-strike on 12 February 1978, the anniversary of the day when he first openly named himself secretary of the United People’s Party of Armenia.
The same prisoners held a hunger-strike on 7 November 1977, demanding the return of the sick Chornovil from the punishment barracks to the hospital.
Participants of the campaign for political status expressed thanks to Andrei Sakharov for his support.
The Chronicle has received letters from participants in the campaign in which they express dissatisfaction with the publicity given this campaign, and in particular with the fact that it was called a “100-day hunger-strike” (see for example CCEs 45 and 46). In these letters they call their action a “100-day political strike” and point out that the basic element was the unilateral “transfer to [political] status” during this whole period.
S. Soldatov is systematically deprived of use of the camp shop for non-attendance at political classes. On 23 February he was deprived of a parcel.
P. Airikyan has again received six months in the punishment barracks for supposedly having deliberately broken a sewing machine at work.
On 7 January, several prisoners in Camp 19 held a tea party to celebrate Christmas. During the general silent prayer, a drunken duty-officer and an overseer burst into the barracks. They drove away those who had gathered there with curses and blasphemous shouts.
The camp censors have confiscated all congratulatory postcards and telegrams sent to Vladimir Osipov. His friends were congratulating him on an unusual anniversary. On 25 October 1957, when he was a third-year student in the history faculty, Osipov read a seminar paper on the activities of the committees of poor peasants, describing these activities as an expression of the “anti-peasant policy of the Party”. At the trial of the Krasnopevtsev group, then in progress, Krasnopevtsev’s defence lawyer stated that an atmosphere of intolerance had been created at the Moscow State University: “they decided to expel the student Osipov from the university for a seminar paper and bring him to trial”.
Vladas Lapienis (on his trial see CCE 47) was in hospital from 9 December 1977 until 27 January 1978. He was awarded 3rd-group disability status. On 17 February, the camp head informed Lapienis that a commission had pronounced him fit for work and appointed him a stoker. Lapienis refused to do this work as it was beyond his strength: he received seven days in the punishment cell (from 24 February until 3 March) and was deprived of use of the camp shop for one month. Then he was sent to work at the sewing workshop. He again refused, due in particular to his extremely poor sight, and was again sent to the punishment cell for a week.
Lapienis is 72 years old and suffers from sciatica, frequent headaches and low blood-pressure. His health deteriorated severely in the Vilnius KGB prison, particularly after being in solitary confinement, where he suffered a heart attack which almost cost him his life.
In a 1976 statement to the USSR Procurator-General V.V. Kalinin appealed against his sentence. The appeal was forwarded to the Tatar ASSR where in August 1958 Kalinin was sentenced under Article 58-10 of the pre-1960 Russian Criminal Code to 25 years’ imprisonment.
Vasily Vladimirovich KALININ is 60 years old. In the 1940s, when he was a soldier, he was sentenced under Article 58-1a to 25 years’ imprisonment for “an attempt to betray the Motherland”. His crime was to listen to a friend’s view that the Germans were better than the communists. In camp Kalinin became a believer and joined the True Orthodox Church. In 1957 he was released and in that same year arrested again for some sermons condemning the authorities.
In December 1977 Pyotr Sartakov was in the punishment cells. On 13 January 1978 he was again given 14 days in a punishment cell and also deprived of parcels and use of the camp shop for non-fulfilment of norms and not standing up to greet KGB official Zorenkov. It was just at this time that Sartakov’s chronic illnesses were getting worse. On 10 February he was given six months in the punishment barracks for refusal to work.
(for common criminals)
Felix Serebrov (CCE 47) is working as an adjuster of the electrical equipment of machines. His wage is 67 roubles 50 kopeks a month. After deductions for the cost of camp security, clothes and food he is left with 3 roubles 75 kopeks, which he has the right to spend at the prison shop: according to the Corrective Labour Code a prisoner in a strict-regime camp is permitted to spend five roubles a month at the shop.
Serebrov’s personal file in the camp is marked with a “red strip”, which means “tendency to escape”.
The Perm Camps
In September 1977 there were 92 people serving sentences in the camp.
In the summer of 1977 Pedan (CCE 46) was transported from the camp to some other place.
On 16 April there was a subbotnik or “Saturday of voluntary work” in the camp. About 20 political prisoners held a hunger-strike on that day.
On 23 December 1977 Knavins, a prisoner for 16 years, died during a humiliating search, Knavins was condemned to 25 years’ imprisonment under Article 58 of the old Criminal Code.
In December 1977 Yevgeny Sverstyuk was deprived of parcels.
In February 1978, the sister of Igor Ogurtsov was refused a visit after being told that he was being punished until 15 March.
Miroslav Vasilyevich SIMCHICH is serving his sentence in Camp 35. His story, described in CCE 42, can now be given some extra detail.
In 1949 Simchich received 25 years for his activity in the OUN [Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists]. In 1953 he was given another 10 years while in camp. In 1956 the Presidium of the USSR Supreme Soviet reduced his term to 10 years. In 1963 Simchich was released. On 30 January 1968, he was rearrested “due to newly uncovered circumstances”. In December 1969, the Presidium of the USSR Supreme Soviet revoked the ruling of 1956. On 20 January 1970, the Supreme Court of the Ukrainian SSR sent Simchich to serve his term under the sentence given in 1953. Simchich‘s term ends on 30 January 1982.
Miroslav Simchich is 55 years old. He is married and has two children.
On 18 February 1978 Stepan Sapelyak (CCEs 33, 42, 47) was transported into exile. After 5 years in camp, he is faced with 3 years’ exile.
On 11 December 1977 Boris Mukhametshin (CCEs 34, 37) was given a two-day personal visit from his mother and his sister Rosa. Boris told them that he had managed to bring with him a letter for his wife (who is living in the USA). Rosa put it in the pocket of her jacket.
Officials of the administration, having lured Rosa out of the room in which the visit was taking place, began to demand the letter from her. They twisted her arms, kept her in a cold room, urged her to take an emetic, forced her to empty her stomach and undressed her. KGB official Chepkasov threatened her with a fine and with informing about her at work, advised her to “think of her child” and about her brother’s situation (see “The Diary of Camp 36” below). In the end they got the letter. Chepkasov asked Rosa to write that she had given up the letter voluntarily; she refused to do so.
At the end of January 1978 camp head Zhuravkov and censor Belova showed Sergei Kovalyov a Bulletin of Amnesty International that had been sent to him. They told Kovalyov that he could not be allowed to have the Bulletin but allowed him to look through it.
The issue publicized the activity of Amnesty International in Chile in 1977, which Amnesty had declared the “year of combating torture”. Kovalyov was asked what should be done with the Bulletin, and he suggested returning it to London. It turned out that this could not be done, but he was promised that the Bulletin would be sent to his wife. A short time later he was presented with an official document about the confiscation of the Bulletin: “it may not be circulated within the Soviet Union”.
During the first conversation about the Bulletin Kovalyov asked whether an invitation had arrived from Amnesty International for him to go to the ceremony where the organisation would received the Nobel Peace Prize in Oslo. Belova said that there had been no such letter. Zhuravkov added: “If an invitation does come, then we’ll decide; perhaps we’ll let you go to Oslo”. Kovalyov observed that in any case 10 December had already passed. (It is known that Amnesty International did send Kovalyov an invitation.)
Kovalyov also asked whether he would receive the book on biology (papers of a symposium) which had been sent to him from West Germany in May of the previous year (when it had been shown him, but not given to him). Zhuravkov replied that this was not generally done and anyway it was a mystery what the book contained. Kovalyov explained what sort of book it was. A few days later Belova told Kovalyov that the book had been sent for translation in order to decide whether it could be given to him.
Diary of Camp 36
1 — General search in the barracks living area.
3 — The informers Kucherevsky and Kochur (both former police [under the Nazi occupation]) are transported to trial in Chusovoi. The camp administration puts them forward for conditional early releases; the administration’s petition is satisfied by the court. It is interesting that as early as October KGB Major Chernyak informed Kucherevsky of the court’s forthcoming decision as of something that had already taken place, congratulated Kucherevsky and shook his hand, Kucherevsky had even earlier had contacts with Chernyak and in autumn 1976 fulfilled a special assignment: he spied on Ivan Svetlichny in a prison cell to which he had then been brought from Camp 35 for a meeting with his wife and sister.
6 — Yevgeny Sorokin came into the zone, brought here from Camp 37.
16 — Sergiyenko and Kavoliunas returned from Camp 35.
17 — A new prisoner Leshkun, condemned “for the war” [wartime activities], came into the zone.
21 — Kovalyov and Kazachkov are punished (they delayed for a few minutes after reveille sounded).
25 — Sapelyak (non-fulfilment of norms) and Zukauskas (several complaints, among them that of Chernyak that he did not greet him) are put into the punishment cells. Sapelyak declared a dry hunger-strike in the punishment cell as a protest.
30 — Grinkiv is transported to an unknown destination.
1 — New output norms are introduced, higher than before, violating a provision of the labour code (there had been no improvements, new technology and so forth).
2 — Release of Kucherevsky and Kochur (they had been in the camp up to this time despite the decision of the court; in their documents their release was dated November).
6 — General search in the barracks living areas (with soldiers!).
7 — Kovalyov sent statements to the Procuracy and the KGB asking to be interrogated as a witness in the cases of A. Ginzburg and Yu. Orlov (for further details see ‘Repressions against the Helsinki groups: Moscow’ in the present issue, CCE 48.2).
10 — On Human Rights Day we wrote letters and statements to various foreign organizations and private individuals, thanking them for their concern and for remembering us. (In the main we wrote via Soviet channels with a request to forward the letters to the addressees!). Kazachkov wrote to the US Embassy via the USSR MVD; Sarkisyan sent a personal letter to Sakharov.
11 — The Chusovoi procurator V. A. Goldyrev was in the zone. He refused to receive political prisoners, saying that soon, before the end of the year, he would come specially for this (he did not do so). Gluzman sent a personal letter to US President Carter via the censor (see below, Chronicle).
18 — Sarkisyan and Kazachkov were told that their letters of 10 December have been confiscated.
24 — Lisovoi deprived of use of the prison shop for refusal to work.
28 — Temperature in barracks living areas and workshops is 8°C (there is a note to this effect by Doctor Petrov in the notebooks of sanitary conditions). Several prisoners sent a statement about this to the camp head.
30 — New prisoner Dergachev (‘for the war’) arrived in the zone. The following were put in the punishment cells:
- Sergiyenko — refused to show Senior Lieutenant Belov the letter to his wife which he was then writing, saying that only the censor had the right to read letters;
- Sorokin — for his statements; put in the punishment cell at the suggestion of the RSFSR Procuracy, which considered his statements to be anti-Soviet (by this the Procuracy sanctioned a violation of the law: one can be tried for this, but not punished as if for a violation of camp regime);
- Mukhametshin — for attempting to hand over information during a visit from his sister.
5 — Gluzman is informed that his letter of 15 December 1977 to Carter has been confiscated.
9 — Captain Rak permits himself an anti-Semitic outburst in the presence of Gluzman, Kalynets and Corporal Shavinov.
10 — Major Fyodorov punished prisoner Vetru (term 25 years, Latvian) for ‘arguing’. (In fact, Vetru replied to a remark directed at him by Fyodorov, with just one phrase in broken Russian, “I need an interpreter”: he does indeed speak Russian very poorly). Several prisoners sent a statement about this to the camp head, describing Fyodorov’s behaviour as provocative and chauvinistic. At the same time a group of prisoners was punished by Fyodorov for “celebrating Christmas”. “‘Religious rituals are forbidden!” are Fyodorov’s words.
11 — 10 prisoners went on hunger-strike because they had sent a statement to the Council for Religious Affairs of the USSR Council of Ministers but, contrary to the demands of the law, this statement was not sent there but to the Procuracy.
12 — An incident took place with Major Fyodorov due to his loutish behaviour; a large group of prisoners refused to have anything more to do with him.
17 — For celebrating Christmas Sergei Kovalyov was put in the punishment cells, and other prisoners were punished for the same reason. An incident took place between Svetlichny and Major Fyodorov. Svetlichny explained exactly why he refused to have anything to do with him.
19 — 16 prisoners refused to go to work in protest against infringement of the right to perform religious rites. They all sent protest statements to the head of the administrative organs department of the Central Committee of the party, citizen Savinkin (for one of these statements, that by Gluzman, see below, Chronicle). In the afternoon, the head of [Camp complex] VS-389, Colonel Mikov, arrived in the zone and threatened the strikers with reprisals not only in the camp but also after their release from it!
19 — All went to work as a result of Kovalyov’s release from the punishment cell. (In the morning he had been taken out to the work zone, although formally the term of solitary confinement ended in the afternoon.)
20 — Pavel Bogun (serving time ‘for the war’) was transported from the camp.
21 — Anatoly Zdorovy came into the zone (returned from Vladimir Prison). Kazachkov was deprived of a visit (didn’t greet Major Fyodorov and so forth).
22 — Prisoner Usui Tamoyan is brought from Camp 35.
22 and 24 — Junior counsellor of justice Yazev, aide to the regional Procurator, was in the zone. He confirmed almost all the administration’s illegal actions as being “lawful”.
22 — Svetlichny felt ill (jaundice, probably obstructive jaundice). On 23 January, Doctor Yuzhakov ‘helped’ him with a tablet of pyramidon. On the 24th and 25th he refused to let Svetlichny off work. Only on the evening of the 25th did the doctor examine Svetlichny for the first time after an appeal by Kovalyov and Kalynets to the duty office. He was not hospitalised!
24 — The confiscation of the statements addressed to Savinkin was announced. The motive for the confiscation was standard: “anti-Soviet expressions, distortions of internal and international reality”.
25 — A number of the participants in the strike are punished for having celebrated Christmas.
26 — Kazachkov is put in the punishment cell for the same reason. The long-time informer Dovganich is brought from Camp 35.
27 — Sergei Kovalyov began a hunger-strike in solidarity with those being punished for the strike. Abankin is put in the punishment cell for taking part in the strike. As a result of several reports on him Sergiyenko is deprived of use of the camp shop. Gluzman on his own initiative had a talk with the camp head Zhuravkov about the condition of Svetlichny, who is clearly suffering from jaundice. In the evening (before Gluzman’s conversation) Svetlichny was, finally, put in the medical isolation ward. Officially the diagnosis is not established.
30 — Svetlichny is carefully examined by specialists brought from Chusovoi, blood taken for analysis. Diagnosis: Botkin’s disease, jaundice acquired through poor sterilisation of an instrument in the central hospital of Camp complex VS-389, where Basarab, suffering from jaundice, was at the same time as Svetlichny (as long ago as last year). The same is true of Ismagilov: his jaundice became apparent a little earlier than Svetlichny’s.
31 — Svetlichny and Ismagilov are taken to the central hospital. Kovalyov ends his hunger-strike.
1 — Announcement of quarantine for influenza and severe respiratory illnesses, supposedly on the orders of the Chusovoi epidemic centre.
6 — Zdorovy and Slobodyan are punished for non-fulfilment of norms. Slobodyan deprived of use of the camp shop (see below a statement by Demidov to Zhuravkov).
8 — Lisovoi is put in the punishment cells for refusal to work.
9 — Zukauskas put in the punishment cells for having taken part in the strike.
10 — Gluzman declares a hunger-strike, demanding explanation of reason for confiscation of his letter to President Carter.
13 — Zhuravkov summoned Gluzman and explained the confiscation of his letter by the fact that it gives a distorted view of facts of internal and international life. (See below, CCE 48.11).
14 — For non-fulfilment of norms Zdorovy deprived of a visit. Slobodyan not excused work despite having a temperature of 37.1° [Centrigrade].
17 — Zhuravkov announced to Zukauskas that the money deducted from his pay for supposedly deliberate spoilage had been returned to him. Zhuravkov admitted that his original decision on this had been unfounded.
18 — Lisovoi is again put into the punishment cell for 10 days for refusal to work. Sapelyak is transported off to exile.
21 — For non-fulfilment of work norms Slobodyan is deprived of a visit. Zdorovy punished for the same reason. Carried out by Fyodorov.
23 — Demidov, Zukauskas, Mattik and Abankin sent identical statements to the head of the medical division of the Perm UVD, Colonel Kostin, about the continuing persecution of the sick Slobodyan.
The statements point out that Slobodyan is not receiving the necessary treatment. He has been denied the right to a food parcel, and is being punished by deprivation of use of the camp shop for non-fulfilment of a norm set for healthy people. He receives a so-called special diet only occasionally. The basic reason for his persecution is the fact that Slobodyan, a former MVD official, does not wish “to take the path of reform”.
25 — Andrei Artyomovich Zeitunyan and Mikhail Zakharovich Tsios are transported from the camp; both had been informed in advance of the transport.
At the end of February KGB Captain Chepkasov informed political prisoner Sorokin that Yu. Dzyuba [CCE 39], incarcerated in the punishment barracks of zone 36, had submitted a written request for a pardon. Then the head of security Rozhkov showed Sorokin the document itself. Dzyuba refers mainly to the serious illness of the grandmother who brought him up and his repentance for unlawful deeds committed through his ignorance of legal matters at that time. According to Sorokin the request was dated 3 February 1978.
In Other Prisons and Camps
In the main Tallinn Prison, cells 58 and 108 are called “gorbachevkas” (after the prison deputy head of security Gorbachev). In these cells, where specially selected criminals are held, people are put who have “refused to speak during an investigation”; their cellmates then ‘bring them round’; they are beaten up, raped and tortured. (Cf. “Torture in the Investigation Prisons of Georgia” in CCE 36).
When he was in Tallin Prison in June-August 1977 (CCE 47), Sergei Soldatov found out that after his son Alexander was arrested (CCE 45) he had been put in a ‘gorbachevka’ (see above), where he was constantly beaten up, his arm was broken, and he was twice robbed. In the end he had signed all the official records. The trial was broadcast by radio and television.
Soldatov states that his son is now keeping silent out of fear, since he has been promised that otherwise he will be killed in his camp.
At the end of November 1977 Vasily Barladyanu was sent to the Lvov Region MVD hospital (CCE 47). He was kept for three days in the psychiatric department and then transferred to the therapeutic department where he was investigated and underwent a course of treatment. On 11 December he was sent back to the camp. The medical statement from the hospital said that work on stone-breaking was unsuitable for Barladyanu. The camp administration tried to hide this statement from Barladyanu and send him back to work in the quarry.
When this failed, Barladyanu was transferred to the packing materials workshop. At present he is putting together boxes. As formerly, he is receiving no treatment.
There are lice in the camp. In the quarry where the prisoners work there is almost no pumping-out of water. And yet they are issued with only one pair of tarpaulin boots a year.
Sergei Grigoryants, arrested on 4 March 1975 and found guilty in October 1975 by the Moscow City Court (Articles 190-1 and 154 of the Russian Criminal Code) to 5 years in camps of hard regime (CCE 38), has been serving his term since April 1976 in Yaroslavl Camp YuN-83/8.
At the end of July and beginning of August 1977 he went on hunger-strike in protest against unjustified punishments. The hunger-strike continued for a month-and-a-half.
Shortly after the end of his hunger-strike Grigoryants was put into the punishment barracks for 2 ½ months and then sent to prison until the end of his term.
Since December 1977 he has been in a prison in the town of Chistopol (Tatar ASSR).
In the camp where Ona Pranskunaite (CCE 47) is held there are 2,000 prisoners (post-box 34/5A, Chuvash ASSR, Kozlovka settlement). There are 65 to 75 women in each barrack. There are no tables. After eight hours’ work in the sewing workshop the prisoners are often made to work another four hours in a different workshop. Besides working in the sewing workshop Pranskunaite has also done asphalting. This work is done here by hand.
Pranskunaite is unwell. She has ulcers on her skin which will not heal, despite her having undergone a course of treatment. In one of her letters, she told how her health had sharply deteriorated after she had spent two weeks in a solitary cell in the Vilnius KGB prison. (Valdas Lapienis was held in the same cell, see above.)
In Camp YaD 40/5A (Bolshaya Markha settlement, near Yakutsk), Chinese [military] officer U Yao-Fen is serving his term. He is 28 years old. In 1976 he crossed the border and presented himself to the local authorities. Surrendering his weapon, U Yao-Fen stated that he was anti-Maoist and a member of a genuine-Marxist grouping. He was arrested. The investigation was conducted by head of the Blagoveshchensk KGB, Colonel Vovk.
U Yao-Fen was sentenced under Article 83 of the Russian Criminal Code (“… illegal entry into the USSR”) to 3 years in an ordinary-regime camp. The indictment stated that he had been tracked down and detained and had not voluntarily given himself up to the authorities. At the trial witnesses appeared who testified that they had taken part in his detention. After the trial, the indictment was taken away from him, except only for the first and last (10th) pages.
In the camp U Yao-Fen works as a cleaner. He tells how, when crossing the border, he thought he was “going to be among friends”.
Oleg Volkov (CCEs 42, 43, 45) has been serving his term in strict-regime Camp AN-243/9-1 (Knyazh-Pogost district, Komi ASSR). In November 1977 he had an ordinary visit from Natalya Lesnichenko (CCEs 43, 45). Two hours were allowed for the visit. They spoke to each other by telephone through glass. Volkov and Lesnichenko submitted an application for registration of their marriage, and the registration was set for 18 January 1978.
After Lesnichenko left Volkov was searched several times in succession and he was transferred to heavier work. In an unofficial conversation Volkov was told that his fiancée’s arrival had done him a lot of harm. In early January 1978, Volkov was transferred to another camp. Lesnichenko was told nothing about his transfer.
Yuliya Nikolayevna Okulova-Voznesenskaya (CCEs 42-47) is serving her sentence in Camp 272/11-1 (Bazoi settlement, Irkutsk Region). She worked as a foreman, and in January was transferred to a job organizing schoolwork. The girls about whose beating-up she had written (CCE 47) turned out to be in the same camp with her. They have now been amnestied.
Pyotr Ruban (CCE 45) is serving his term of imprisonment in the Voroshilovgrad Region. In January 1978, officials of the Voroshilovgrad KGB came to see him in the camp. They showed him the work Facets of Crystal by Ivan Dzyuba (CCE 30) and a few other articles against nationalism. The KGB officials tried to persuade Ruban to dissociate himself from “nationalists”. Ruban replied that “’conversations on such matters will be possible only if justice is done, at least under the first two articles [charges” (he was convicted of crimes under two criminal articles and the UkSSR equivalent to Article 190-1 of the Russian Criminal Code).
A Camp Uprising
On 23 September 1977, an uprising took place in Camp US-20/7 for common criminals situated in Leningrad (Nevsky district, known as “Dolgorukov’s dacha” or Yablonevka). According to the accounts of former prisoners in this camp the cause was the systematic beatings of prisoners by warders and their helpers from among the prisoners.
Overtime was a constant practice in the camp — after shifts or on Sundays, especially in the second half of the month when “meeting the production plan becomes urgent”. The helpers forced people to do this work. Those who refused were beaten up at night.
The uprising started with the beating-up of ‘activists’, then the prison within the camp (the punishment cells and punishment barracks) was wrecked and the whole territory of the camp seized. Eight hundred of the total 1,700 prisoners in the camp took part in the uprising. Firehoses were used to put it down, and the army was also called in with an armoured personnel carrier and a tank. One prisoner (other reports say two) was killed. About one hundred of the prisoners were sent to “Kresty” [Leningrad’s main remand prison] and put on trial. Two of them, Vladimir Aitman and Nikolai Agafonov (both about 20 years old) were condemned to be shot.
Since June 1977, the camp head has been Major Nevzorov.