Igrunov Hearings, 11-13 March 1976

(Concluded: see The Trial of Vyacheslav Igrunov)

Igrunov’s wife, Svetlana Feliksovna Artsimovich (b. 1950) was called as a witness. Until October 1975 she had worked as a teacher in a kindergarten.

Judge: Was there a search at your home and what was confiscated? What did you hand over voluntarily?

S. Artsimovich: Are you talking about August 1974? I didn’t hand in anything voluntarily; the search was carried out without any documents being shown; after the search, I was confused and wrote a “declaration of voluntary surrender of goods”, which was dictated to me. A paper-case and some papers were confiscated.

During the search on 1 March 1975, the Chronicle of Current Events No. 32, some photographic equipment, some paper, and a card-index to the Chronicle were discovered. The Chronicle belonged to my husband and myself, so that there can be no question of distribution. We made the card-index together. I refuse to say why — and I also refuse to give any further evidence.

Judge: Why?

S. Artsimovich: I have known Vyacheslav for many years as an honest and thoroughly decent man. He had not committed any crimes. He is quite normal. I refuse to take part in his trial.

Judge and Prosecutor: This is not a trial. We are not trying him.

S. Artsimovich: The difference is only in the terminology used.

Defence counsel: Do you also refuse to answer my questions?

S. Artsimovich (wavering): Yes.

Judge: Will you answer questions from the medical experts?

S. Artsimovich: No.


An intermission was now announced.

After the intermission the court again summoned Pavlovsky and tried to persuade him to confirm the evidence he had given at the pre-trial investigation.

Pavlovsky: The questions put to me by the KGB should not have been asked; they were unlawful. Like the investigation as a whole.

The judge reminded Pavlovsky of the “handwritten declaration to the authorities”, dated August 1974, which he had signed.

Pavlovsky: I remember quite well all I said in it, but I categorically refuse to give evidence. I also repudiate the document itself, that is, without denying its existence I refused to confirm the facts mentioned in it. The interpretation expressed in my explanations was imposed on me by KGB officials Kasyan, Dovzhenko and Captain Alexeyev. I refuse to discuss the contents of this document, as it does not correspond to reality. I did not wish to mislead anyone. I myself have been mistaken about this case as a whole.

Judge: How have you been mistaken?

Pavlovsky: In that my friendship with Igrunov and our relationship have been regarded as official matters and are the object of investigation by the State Security authorities. This is not their business. I should have refused to answer their questions then, giving my reasons.

Judge: You got to know Igrunov and wanted to obtain some literature… After all, there was nothing criminal in that?

Pavlovsky: Of course, there was nothing criminal about it. I could have written about it in a letter. But it was absurd and immoral to write about it to the investigative authorities.

Judge (reading extracts from the “handwritten declaration”): … I had the impression that Igrunov had too critical a frame of mind … As a whole, I saw him as a man leading a highly unorganized form of existence… I occasionally received samizdat literature from him. Igrunov himself offered to pass on this literature to me at his own discretion… He brought me Solzhenitsyn’s book August 1914, 10 to 15 issues of the Chronicle, “Think!” by L. Ventsov, and Tsvetayeva’s poems. This was from January 1972 to the summer of 1973. He brought the Chronicle later on as well. In 1974 I obtained the Gulag Archipelago from Igrunov. Without Igrunov’s knowledge, I offered to lend this book to Alexeyev-Popov, in order to hear his opinion as a historian … Pavlovsky was shown the document and confirmed that its contents agreed with the text just read out. Pavlovsky categorically refused to give further evidence.


The court decided that it was impossible to proceed with the case in the absence of the witness Alexeyev-Popov. At the suggestion of the prosecutor, the evidence given by Alexeyev-Popov at the pre-trial hearing was read out.

Vadim Sergeyevich Alexeyev-Popov (b. 1912), a senior lecturer at the Odessa State University faculty of history; in 1970-1 he got to know the student Pavlovsky, keeping in touch with him even after he had finished the course. In June 1974 Pavlovsky brought a copy of The Gulag Archipelago to Alexeyev-Popov’s dacha, as the latter had wanted to read it, being a historian. At his request, Pavlovsky had first brought a few chapters, and then the whole book (a photocopy). The book had seemed tendentious to him, and the ‘personal prejudices’ of the author gave “a maliciously distorted, libellous picture of life in our country”.

[Psychiatric evidence]

The expert psychiatrist Alfred Gavrilovich Azamatov now appeared before the court; bom in 1934, with clinical training in forensic psychiatry, and with over ten years’ experience. He had taken part in the forensic-psychiatric diagnosis of Igrunov’s case which was carried out at the Serbsky Institute from 26 June to 1 September 1975.

The prosecution, in accordance with the Code of Criminal Procedure, put written questions to the expert:

(1) Did he uphold the conclusion reached by the report of 1 September, taking into account the evidence furnished in court?

(2) Did he support the recommendation made as a result of the diagnosis — for treatment in a special psychiatric hospital?

Judge: How much time do you need to prepare answers to these questions?

Azamatov stated that he was ready to answer the first question at once. As to the second question, taking into account the fact that over six months had gone by since diagnosis, he would have to study the medical findings during this period, to talk to the doctors in charge of Igrunov’s treatment and to examine Igrunov himself. Thus, the expert could not answer the second question earlier than the following day.

The judge announced an intermission of 15 minutes. After the intermission, which lasted considerably longer, Azamatov was no longer in the courtroom — he had gone to carry out the examination.

The psychiatrist Vera Yeliseyevna Lyamina now appeared; she was born in 1923, had worked as a doctor for 25 years, and was now a consultant in the clinical department at Odessa City Psychiatric Hospital No. 1. She took part in the first diagnosis in Igrunov’s case. Lyamina had been called by the defence in connection with the fact that, in making the diagnosis, the members of the commission had disagreed as to the mental health of Igrunov. Lyamina explained that she herself had supported the diagnosis of ‘schizophrenia’; the opposing view — for ‘psychopathy’ — had been supported particularly by Sedykh, the chairman of the commission.

(Defence counsel: Well, I didn’t know which one of you to call!)

The prosecutor made the following requests:

  • that a number of materials should be added to the case-evidence (including the verdict in the case of V. Moroz, the court decision in the case of Kharitonov, author of the “Draft of a Basic Law [Constitution] for Russia”), and the results of a handwriting test proving that the parcel containing the photographic reagent was sent to Rezak by Igrunov;
  • that Pavlovsky’s evidence at the pre-trial hearing should be read out.

The defence counsel opposed the reading out of Pavlovsky’s evidence. “The law allows that possibility in the case of contradictions in evidence given at the pre-trial hearing and in court. But here we are dealing with a categorical refusal to give evidence in court.”

The court turned down the prosecutor’s request that Pavlovsky’s evidence should be read out. The prosecutor’s remaining requests were granted.

The defence counsel made the following requests:

  • that a new diagnosis should be made, not by Azamatov alone, but by a commission, in accordance with the law; the lawyer based this request on the procedure for compulsory medical treatment, which provides for diagnosis by a commission every six months;
  • that character references from Igrunov’s place of work should be read out.

The prosecutor opposed the first request, pointing out its lack of legal basis — Igrunov was not yet receiving compulsory treatment.

The court rejected defence counsel’s first request and granted the second. Character references from Igrunov’s last three places of work were read out, mostly positive in character (only the character reference from the philosophy department of a medical institute mentioned his lack of discipline).

The court hearing came to an end. The court assigned its next hearing for Saturday, 13 March.

Saturday. 13 March

The court hearing of 13 March began with the testimony of the expert Azamatov.

In answer to the first question, the expert stated that he fully supported the diagnosis made by the Serbsky Institute: Igrunov was suffering from schizophrenia and was not responsible. The court investigation had produced no new facts on this question.

“The second question is: Does Igrunov need compulsory treatment at this lime in a Special Psychiatric Hospital? In making recommendations of this kind, an expert depends largely on the presence or absence of pathological personality changes and on the nature of the crimes committed.”

Schizophrenia was a fast-moving illness and that was why it had been necessary to examine Igrunov at the present time. “On 12 March I carried out such an examination. I also made myself familiar with the medical findings over the last six months.” He had not discovered any basic disease of the central nervous system. During their conversation Igrunov had behaved arrogantly, in an affected manner, “smiling inadequately”; in the course of conversation, he would suddenly tense himself and lapse into silence; it was noticeable that he had a paranoid attitude to the doctors and lacked self-criticism; for example, the doctor’s questions about his illness of the duodenum were regarded by him as deliberate provocation. When asked if he intended to continue his activities in future, he answered no, he did not intend to, “as he did not want to end up in a psychiatric hospital”.

Igrunov’s mental condition had improved over these six months: he had become more concrete in his replies. From this, and from the fact that the actions Igrunov was accused of did not pose a great danger to society, the expert considered it possible to reject the conclusion of the Serbsky report on the necessity of treatment in a special psychiatric hospital and recommended treatment in an ordinary psychiatric hospital.

The judicial investigation ended at this point. Closing statements by the two sides now began.

Speech of Prosecutor Sadikova

It has been established that for a prolonged period Igrunov was involved in producing, storing and distributing libellous literature defaming the Soviet system. This consisted partly of literature published abroad, and partly of samizdat works. All these contain libels on our system, on the teachings of Marxism-Leninism and on the history of the USSR.

Igrunov stored and distributed — or tried to distribute— The Technology of Power by Avtorkhanov, his Origins of the Partocracy, and Solzhenitsyn’s “Letter to the Soviet Leaders” and The Gulag Archipelago. All the works referred to contain libels on the Soviet system and “on the origins of the Soviet regime”. Igrunov’s guilt is confirmed by the evidence of Rezak, Kulakova, Shkorbut and Mirolyubov. It is also clear from Mirolyubov’s evidence that Igrunov spread slanderous reports in oral form.

In 1972-1974 Igrunov distributed libellous anti-Soviet materials, including the so-called Chronicle of Current Events, the 32nd issue of which he showed to his wife, and drew her into the work by making a card-index based on this issue. By a comparison of the text of the Chronicle‘s reports with the court records of criminal cases mentioned in it, the libellous character of this bulletin is revealed. In addition, it contains libels on the internal policies of the USSR and “on places of imprisonment”; it advertises anti-Soviet literature.

These facts are confirmed by the evidence of both the pre-trial investigation and the court hearing.

The distribution of The Gulag Archipelago and over ten issues of the Chronicle is confirmed by the evidence of Pavlovsky (although he refused to give evidence in court) and that of Alexeyev-Popov. Pavlovsky’s evidence also confirms the distribution of Ventsov’s article “Think!” in which “questions of culture and ideology are depicted in a libellous light”.

Igrunov kept at home an article by Moroz which libels the nationalities policy of the USSR and the activities of the Soviet administration. The case-evidence now includes the court decision sending V. Kharitonov, author of one of the libellous documents kept by Igrunov at his parents’ home, to a psychiatric hospital for forcible treatment. We know that Moroz was also held criminally responsible for his article.

Thus, it has been proved that Igrunov committed a crime.

However, we must still decide a number of questions:

  • was the person who committed the crime responsible?
  • if not, should measures of a medical nature be taken, and what kind of measures?

The in-patient diagnosis has shown that Igrunov is suffering from mental illness in the form of schizophrenia and committed the actions he is charged with in a state of non-responsibility. Igrunov  needs compulsory treatment. At the same time, it must be taken into account that the crime committed by Igrunov is not considered a major crime by law and does not constitute a great danger to society.

Igrunov has committed an action defined under Article 187-1 of the Ukrainian SSR Criminal Code and requires compulsory treatment in an ordinary hospital.

Speech of defence counsel Nimirinskaya

Above all, we must make clear whether the socially dangerous actions mentioned in the “Resolution” ever took place, and if so, whether they come under the provisions of Article 187-1 of the Ukrainian SSR Criminal Code.

To go through it point by point:

(1) That Igrunov gave Pavlovsky works by Solzhenitsyn and Ventsov and the Chronicle has not been established in court. We cannot check in court the evidence he gave at the pre-trial hearing. Pavlovsky stated that he had misled the investigation and refused to give evidence. The evidence of Alexeyev-Popov does not clarify matters — he obtained the Gulag Archipelago from Pavlovsky but does not know where Pavlovsky got the book. This evidence concerns only Pavlovsky, not Igrunov.

(2) The evidence given by V. Rezak, that in the summer of 1974 Igrunov gave him The Technology of Power on film, via O. Kursa, is unconvincing and contradictory. It was revealed in court that, contrary to his evidence at the pre-trial investigation and his “Declaration about the crime committed”, dated 16 February 1975, Rezak did not know what he had been given, or how much, or from whom it originated. Rezak asserts that he got to know all this from the investigator. That Kursa had obtained The Technology of Power on film from Igrunov, Rezak knew only from what Kursa said. He did not speak to Igrunov about it. The film copies were confiscated from Kursa. Here we are trying the case of Igrunov, not Kursa. If it was not considered necessary to call Kursa into court, it means that the evidence of Rezak, a man guilty of socially dangerous activity, reflects merely the opinion of the investigators and not any established facts.

(3) The episode of February 1975, when Rezak was given a film, is not disputed by the defence.

(4) The storing of “Report from the Beria Reserve” by V. Moroz, Chronicle No. 32, The Technology of Power, “The Three Russian Revolutions” and other works found at the home of Igrunov’s parents, must be excluded from the indictment. Storing anything is not a crime covered by Article 187-1. Responsibility for storing anti-Soviet literature is covered by Article 62 of the Ukrainian SSR Criminal Code, not Article 187-1.

The material confiscated during the search at the home of Igrunov’s parents cannot be relevant to this case, as there is no direct evidence to prove that it belonged to Vyacheslav Igrunov.

Concerning issue 32 of the Chronicle. The indictment states that Igrunov showed it to his wife. Igrunov’s wife, Svetlana Artsimovich, began to give evidence in court, but unexpectedly refused to continue. However, it is clear from what she said that she and her husband owned the Chronicle together. The notes in the card-index are partly in her handwriting. This episode should also be deleted.

(5) The incident when Mirolyubov was given the book The Gulag Archipelago is not disputed by the defence. The spoken assertions have also been proved.

Concerning the forensic-medical diagnosis, the defence cannot quarrel with a diagnosis made by specialists. However, it should be noted that this case is very complicated.

Until 25 May the doctors could not come to any conclusion and decided, so to speak, that no decision could be made: “The clinical picture is unclear. It is essential to continue observations.” On 29 May, for some reason, however, the doctors refused to carry out further observations or to come to a decision — because of the complicated nature of the case. It is true that the expert Lyamina told us of the doubts experienced by some members of the commission and of the fact that some of them were “on the side of schizophrenia — but the report itself speaks only of a psychopathic structure of the personality. At the Serbsky Institute a diagnosis could not be made at once either: the report of 28 July lists a number of symptoms but does not make a diagnosis. It was only on 1 September that his non-responsibility was categorically decided on and his diagnosis given as “schizophrenia”.

Even in this report the need to send him to a Special Psychiatric Hospital was not strongly argued, and on this point the defence was prepared earlier to disagree with the report. The fact is that Article 187-1 does not apply to especially dangerous crimes; the actions covered by this Article do not constitute a great danger to society. Then in court the expert Azamatov himself rejected the Serbsky Institute’s point; he considered that assignment to an ordinary hospital would be sufficient. An expert opinion is not, of course, bound to be accepted by the court, but it should be taken into account.

The defence asks that a decision be taken to recommend compulsory treatment in an ordinary hospital.


The court retired for consultation. An intermission was declared and lasted for about two hours. After the intermission, the Decision of the court was read out: In the course of 1974-1975, Igrunov disseminated libellous fabrications defaming the Soviet political and social system.

The court considered as proven: the incidents concerning Rezak (summer 1974, February 1975); the incidents involving Mirolyubov; the fact that Chronicle No. 32 was shown to S. Artsimovich and a card-index made together with her.

The charge of giving Pavlovsky the book The Gulag Archipelago, issues of the Chronicle and L. Ventsov’s article “Think!” was deleted, because the evidence given by Pavlovsky at the pre-trial hearing could not be verified.

Because there was no proof of intention to disseminate this material, the charges concerning the storage of The Technology of Power by Avtorkhanov, The Anti-gospel of Maria Dementnaya, the articles “The Three Russian Revolutions” and “Draft of a Basic Law [Constitution] for Russia” at his parents’ home were deleted.

The charge relating to the storage of “Report from the Beria Reserve” by V. Moroz was deleted.

The forensic psychiatric diagnosis had established that Igrunov was suffering from a mental illness, chronic schizophrenia.

The decision of the court was that Vyacheslav Vladimirovich Igrunov should be given compulsory treatment in an ordinary psychiatric hospital.

The court made a separate ruling concerning the witness G. O. Pavlovsky: to prefer criminal charges against him for refusal to give evidence in court. (The penalty prescribed for this in the relevant article of the Ukrainian SSR Criminal Code is up to 3 months’ corrective labour, Chronicle.)

[untypical legal propriety]

The untypical legal propriety with which the trial was conducted — if the almost total lack of proof concerning the criminal nature of the texts involved is not taken into account — and the unusual involvement of an expert to review the recommendations of the psychiatric report were in keeping with the tone of the trial’s conduct.

Judge Meshkova observed the provisions of the Code of Criminal Procedure, even to the extent that Svetlana Artsimovich, formally a Lithuanian by birth, and A.I. Polyanskaya, formally a Pole by birth, were offered the services of an interpreter (the Ukrainians Mirolyubov and Shkorbut, however, were not offered interpreters). Neither the judge nor the prosecutor interrupted witnesses or threatened them: compare the trials, reported in this issue, of Tverdokhlebov (CCE 40.2) and Dzhemilev (CCE 40.3). The trial was basically conducted in a calm and business-like manner. All those who wished to attend were allowed into the courtroom (they were even invited to come in). There were hardly any KGB officials or agents in the courtroom or in the corridors of the courthouse.

On the last day of the trial the courtroom turned out to be full of young people, who said they were medical students, and Igrunov’s friends and relatives had nowhere to sit. Then the chairman of the Odessa Regional Court assigned a larger hall for the hearing, where there was enough room for everyone to sit down.


The appeal hearing was unsuccessful, and on 25 March Igrunov was transferred from prison to Odessa Regional Psychiatric Hospital No. 1. Until that moment, he did not know that the court hearing had taken place, that the investigation was over, or even of the results of the psychiatric diagnosis.

From the moment of his arrest, Igrunov consistently refused to participate in any way in the investigation or the diagnosis.


Abroad organisations and individuals came out in defence of Vyacheslav Igrunov: the Royal College of Psychiatrists (Britain), the International Commission of Psychiatrists against the Abuse of Psychiatry (Switzerland) and certain representatives of the emigration — Natalya Gorbanevskaya, Leonid Plyushch, Alexander Solzhenitsyn, Marina Voikhanskaya and Victor Fainberg.

In the USSR, Igrunov’s name was mentioned in declarations by the Action Group, in appeals by A. Sakharov, and in an interview given by T.S. Khodorovich and M.N. Landa.



[1] Vasily Kharitonov is among those listed as “Victims of Soviet Psychiatric Abuse” in S. Bloch and P. Reddaway, Russia’s Political Hospitals, London, 1977, Appendix One, p. 366. (The US title of this book is Psychiatric Terror.)