IN THE MORDOVIAN CAMPS
The regime has become more severe during the last few months. This was especially so during the [25th] Party Congress [24 February-5 March 1976]. During searches people were stripped naked. Punishments were increased. One-day hunger-strikes have begun to be punished by terms in the camp prison. People have begun to be punished for supporting hunger-strikes.
Postcards with dedications on them have begun to be confiscated. It is a custom among the prisoners to give each other such postcards on their birthdays or on other festivals. Since the new year it has been forbidden for people outside the camp to take out subscriptions to newspapers and journals for prisoners. Prisoners cannot subscribe to periodicals published in other Soviet republics. Recently, it has been forbidden to put cocoa in parcels.
In July 1975 representatives of the administration at Institution ZhKh 385 assured Paruir Airikyan’s parents that their son would soon be coming home. In the same month Airikyan received an official reprimand. He sent a complaint to the procurator and was immediately deprived of facilities at the camp shop for the rest of August. On 11 August Airikyan took part in a hunger-strike (CCE 37.5).
He demanded that his case should be reviewed, that the National United Party of Armenia should be legalized and that a referendum should be held in the Armenian SSR on the question of independence for Armenia. Airikyan’s demands were supported by Graur, Popadyuk and Kheifets. In addition, Kheifets declared that he was protesting against the infringement of the Helsinki Agreements. After this, Kheifets was deprived of access to the camp shop for a month and Popadyuk was transferred to Vladimir Prison.
On the fourth day of his hunger-strike Airikyan did not go out for rollcall (hunger-strikers should be isolated on the third day of their strike), and he was then deprived of his next visit; before that, he had been deprived of access to the camp food shop until the end of September. On 27 August Airikyan was transferred to the punishment cells for five months, “for systematic infringement of the regime regulations”.
While he was in the cells, Airikyan was twice deprived in October and in November of facilities at the camp shop. The authorities wanted to continue this into December, but thanks to the interference of the procurator, his access to the camp shop was restored in December. The sanitary conditions in his cell were unbearable. During the five months he was in the cells Airikyan had the right to send three letters. The first disappeared without reaching the person it was addressed to; the second was confiscated twice; while the third version of this letter was examined for about a month and its fate is still unknown; the next letter, in January, was sent only in February, after being rewritten three times.
E. Sirotenko, an acquaintance of Airikyan’s, made enquiries addressed to Krivov, the head of regime in ZhKh 385. She received an explanation stating that Krivov and his staff act on the basis of “a general directive about all the methods of punishment at his disposal”. Krivov explained that he could not give a formal reference to this directive.
In February, after he had already been released from the cells, Airikyan received two official reprimands “for infringing the regulations on dress”.
After Airikyan’s return to the camp zone, he was not given letters in the Armenian language, the lack of a translator being given as a reason. (In the neighbouring camp 19, Airikyan had been given his letters at once.) On 19 February 1976, Airikyan went on hunger-strike because of the way his letters were being held back and allowed to disappear.
Soldatov and Stus wrote a declaration in support of Airikyan. After this, Soldatov was deprived of access to the camp shop and transferred to heavier work, Stus was taken off the post-operative diet which had been assigned to him for six months (at that time, two months had gone by since the operation).
Airikyan’s belongings were searched. A letter to the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet was confiscated, which particularly mentioned the National United Party of Armenia. Krivov told Airikyan that, if this letter appeared in the West, a new case would be brought against him. Airikyan was also warned that he might be transferred to Vladimir.
At the end of March, Airikyan was sent to the cooler. At this time, the camp was visited by K G B officials from Armenia. They inspected Airikyan’s place in the barracks and asked the other prisoners about him.
Because of the difficulties in corresponding with Airikyan, his mother sent a complaint on 10 February to the Main Administration for Corrective Labour Institutions. On 19 February E. Sirotenko wrote to the Presidium of the 25th CPSU Congress [held from 24 February to 5 March 1976], and on 20 February she wrote to A.P. Kirilenko, a member of the Politburo.
From the middle of February to the middle of March, Mikhail Kheifets was in Saransk. Representatives of the State authorities tried to persuade him to write a plea for a pardon, and he was offered a job “working for us” in Israel or the USA. In particular, he was told: “You know, lots of great writers worked for us over there, like Shaw, for instance”. Kheifets is constantly getting offers to collaborate with the administration, during the frequent searches he has to undergo.
After his operation Stus was allowed an extra parcel. When the parcel arrived at the camp the administration sent it back, declaring that Stus had rejected the parcel.
A parcel and a package for Paulaitis were returned under the same pretext.
In March 1976, Arshakyan (CCE 34.//) was taken to Yerevan. There he was taken home for a meeting with his relatives. The visit lasted for some hours.
On 4 April, Stus, Chornovil and Kheifets carried out a one-day hunger-strike as a protest against the insulting way in which prisoners in the cooler were treated.
In February 1976 R. Markosyan refused to work, demanding that he be given the medical treatment he needed (he has a stomach ulcer), and that he be held together with other Armenian political prisoners.
Vladimir Osipov is being subjected to constant baiting by the administration. In particular he is not allowed to spend his extra two roubles in the camp shop, although he has not infringed the regulations at his work and has fulfilled his norm.
In February-March Yu. Khramtsov had the cross he wore tom off while he was in the baths. He had been taken into the baths in handcuffs.
On 7 February S. Shabatura declared a hunger-strike. She began the hunger-strike because drawings she had made were taken away from her (CCE 39.2). It is known that she maintained the hunger-strike for at least ten days.
IN THE PERM CAMPS
VS 389/35 (during the Party Congress)
On 20 February Lieutenant Rogozov rendered the camp zone “harmless”. In the morning, a detachment of four ensigns arrived at the factory to take away Gluzman and Kalynets. They were immediately taken to Perm for prophylactic talks. After dinner Zakharchenko, Svetlichny and Pronyuk were taken away. They were taken to camp 37 and put in the cooler (soon after the transfer Pronyuk was taken to the medical section in camp zone 37). Marchenko and Demidov, despite their protests were taken to the cooler in camp 36. On the way, Marchenko began to have an attack of renal colic, which made his chronic nephritis worse.
On 24 February declarations addressed to the presidium of the 25th Party Congress [24 February to 5 March 1976] were sent by the following: Altman, Asselbaums, Basarab, Butman, Verkholyak, Zagrobyan, Kivilo, Kiirend, Kryuchkov, Mamchur, Mashkov, Motryuk, Ogurtsov, Pidgorodetsky, Prishlyak, Soroka, Shakhverdyan and Shovkovy. Those deported from the camp (Gluzman, Demidov, Zakharchenko, Kalynets, Marchenko, Svetlichny and Pronyuk) also sent declarations to the Congress. All 25 prisoners observed a one-day hunger-strike.
Soon afterwards, Major Pimenov summoned D. Basarab and told him that he was punishing him by putting him in the cooler for nine days, for insulting the Congress. During the conversation D. Basarab had a heart attack and was carried out of the camp commandant’s office to the medical section.
Dmitry Pavlovich BASARAB was arrested on 5 September 1953 and sentenced on 12 November 1954 to 25 years’ imprisonment in corrective labour camps under article 54-1a of the [old] Ukrainian SSR Criminal Code, by a Military Tribunal of the Transcarpathian Military District in the town of Stanislav.
Soroka and Verkholyak received answers from the Perm Region Party Committee. Their complaints about the prison administration had been sent back to the prison administration. “After investigation, the allegations were not substantiated.”
On 2 March 1976, Svetlichny and Zakharchenko returned to the camp; on 4 March, Marchenko was brought back; Demidov was left in Camp 36.
Shakhverdyan was deprived of access to the camp shop in March. On 21 February Zhilin, the engineer in charge of technical safety, told the camp commandant that Shakhverdyan had not been at his workplace from 17.00 to 21.00 hours; ensign Barkovsky reported that, on that day, Shakhverdyan had refused to work at all. On that day, Shakhverdyan had been working,
Sergei Kovalyov was deprived of the right to a visit in February. Later, he was put in the cooler (the term and the reason for it are unknown to the Chronicle).
Since the end of February, no letters have been received from him. In answer to inquiries from his wife, the camp commandant informed her, at the end of April, that Kovalyov was alive.
Yury Vudka [CCE 14.7] arrived in the camp from Vladimir on 3 April.
Before he was transferred, the following objects were confiscated from Vudka; clean paper, stamps, family photographs, letters from his family and friends (which had been passed earlier by the prison censor), and a volume of Pasternak’s poems.
The following text has been received from camp 36: “Telegram. To Simas Kudirka [CCE 33.//]. We remember and love you and all people of heart and conscience. We are with you on the freedom march. Political prisoners of Kuchino.”
(There was a “freedom march” in the USA, a demonstration in support of Soviet political prisoners.)
IN CAMPS FOR COMMON CRIMINALS IN THE UKRAINE
Alexander Feldman (the case of the cake, CCE 30.//) is serving his term in an intensified regime camp near Kherson (institution YuZ 17/10).
Onishchenko, the deputy head of the camp for regime, and M. M. Kondratov, his section head, continually proclaim that a “special watch” is being kept on Feldman. Kondratov has forbidden him to go to the library or the reading room. He is not allowed to receive books through Books by Post. Kondratov does not hide his anti-Semitic views in any way.
Letters addressed to Feldman are mostly kept from him. No letters have been received from him since the end of February. His father was not allowed to visit him in January (“We have no building for visitors”) or in April (“He only left the medical section yesterday”). According to information as of 12 April, Feldman was not given his regulation parcel and package (“not allowed”). Feldman has made written complaints.
On 25 March, a common criminal unknown to Feldman came into the boiler-house where he was working, and, in the presence of other prisoners, hit him over the head with a shovel. Feldman was in the medical section until 10 April. He is tormented by headaches.
On 13 April, I.Ya. Nudel wrote a declaration to the head of the USSR Main Administration for Corrective Labour Institutions, demanding the trial of the criminal for attempted murder, and that of the administrative authorities for permitting the attack.
A. Feldman still has about a year left to serve.
In January 1976, Mikhail Shtern (Chronicle 34) was invited to write a plea for a pardon. Shtern (who is in an ordinary-regime camp near Kharkov) wrote a declaration asking to be pardoned because of his state of health but did not express any repentance. His wife wrote a similar declaration.
At the end of March or the beginning of April Shtern was refused a pardon.
On 10 March Valery Graur was released. Graur is about 35; his whole family was released from special settlement regime in 1956-7 and emigrated from the USSR to Rumania. But Graur decided to remain.
Graur was arrested in 1972 for discussing the possibility of the Moldavian SSR joining Rumania. Graur and his co-defendants, Gimpsu, Usatyuk and Shaltoyan, were charged with “anti-Soviet agitation” and sentenced, respectively, to 4, 6, 7 plus 5 and 6 plus 5 years of camps and exile.
Graur served his term in Camp 17 (Mordovia), but was taken to Kishinyov for visits from his parents, who travelled there from Rumania. It was in Kishinyov that he was released.
After Graur tried to travel to Moscow he was again placed under surveillance.
A medical commission has released Vladimir Dyak (CCE 33.//) from Camp 37. He should not be confused with Mikhail Dyak, who was released about a year ago.
On 2 May the Baptist Boris Zdorovets (CCE 1.5, CCE 30, CCE 39.7) was released at the end of his sentence from a strict-regime camp in the Voroshilovgrad Region.