Yury Orlov’s 1978 trial (concluded)

Continued from “The Trial of Orlov, 15-18 May 1978 (50.1)”

Then followed the examination of the defendant. In response to questioning, Orlov said that the Moscow Helsinki Group’s documents had been delivered to the embassies of 35 countries and to certain journalists, whom he did not wish to name.

He stated that he accepted full responsibility for the content of MHG documents but would not answer questions regarding to whom, where and when they were given. There followed a question from the Procurator concerning the ‘preparation’ and ‘dissemination’ of the letter to Brezhnev. Orlov answered that he wrote the letter and sent it by post to the addressee and to the editors of Pravda and Izvestiya. He also showed the letter to V.V. Migulin and to Yanshina, head of the personnel department, at IZMIRAN so that they should know why they were dismissing him.

The Procurator asked about “the slanderous statement about the case of Zosimov, who fled from the USSR in a military plane carrying secret documents”. Orlov refused to answer questions about Zosimov, since the case belonged to the category of defectors, not of hijacking [see CCE 43.13]. He asked the court to obtain information from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs as to the type of plane (civilian or military) used by Zosimov to cross the border and whether there were any secret documents in the plane.

Examination of witnesses

The second day of the trial was devoted entirely to the examination of 15 witnesses summoned by the prosecution (witnesses requested by the defence were not summoned).

The first witness to be questioned, V. Varna, turned out to be only a namesake of J. Varna, who had figured in the supplement to MHG document No. 7 as one of four Riga dock workers arrested for striking in protest at the deterioration of food supplies (see also in this issue “The Trial of Ginzburg” CCE 50.3).

Witness Yanshina, head of the personnel department at IZMIRAN, gave evidence about the circumstances in which Orlov gave her his letter to Brezhnev, namely for her own information and to pass on to the Institute director, Migulin; she also made a few remarks intended as an evaluation of Professor Orlov’s scientific work. At this point, the defence lawyer requested that a statement signed by Migulin concerning Yu.F. Orlov’s scientific work be appended to the evidence; the request was turned down.

Witnesses V.P. Blokhina and L.A. Lyubarskaya (CCE 38), psychiatrists responsible for the treatment of Leonid Plyushch at the Dnepropetrovsk Special Psychiatric Hospital [SPH], gave evidence regarding the circumstances and reasons for this treatment, contradicting one another and the previous evidence regarding Plyushch’s health. Orlov asked Blokhina, who described Plyushch’s illness as “sluggish schizophrenia of paranoid type”, whether she agreed with Professor Snezhnevsky that “sluggish schizophrenia never assumes a paranoid form”. There was no answer. After the examination of these two witnesses, Orlov with difficulty managed to obtain permission to give supplementary evidence and to recount his meeting with Snezhnevsky, during which the latter had said: “Plyushch’s case is a complex one; consultations with the Serbsky Institute are necessary.” After this conversation Plyushch underwent one psychiatric examination and a month later another one. The diagnoses differed.

N.M. Georgievskaya, a psychiatrist at a district psychiatric out-patients clinic in Moscow, summoned to give evidence regarding the legality of the compulsory hospitalization of Pyotr Starchik in autumn 1976 (CCE 42.1, CCE 43.//) stated:

Starchik was on the dispensary list, but I myself never saw him. Once they telephoned the dispensary from the police station to say that up to 50 people were gathering in his apartment, smoking on the landing, disturbing the neighbours and listening to songs of an anti-Soviet content performed by Starchik. After this telephone call the chief doctor at the dispensary decided to put a stop to it. Starchik was summoned to the dispensary for an interview with the chief doctor.

In reply to questions from Orlov, Georgievskaya said that neither she nor the chief doctor, I.A. Sapozhnikova, had ever heard Starchik’s songs; she did not know about Starchik’s compulsory hospitalization following the ‘interview’ with Sapozhnikova, nor that Kotov, chief psychiatrist of Moscow, having listened to Starchik’s songs, had ordered his release.

A Vladimir Prison doctor, L. Sukhacheva, told the court that prisoners were not made to do work which would endanger their health, that all the prisoners, including A. Sergiyenko (CCE 40.9), G. Superfin and Ya. Suslensky (CCE 41) were ‘practically healthy’, so that there was no obstacle to putting them in a punishment cell; she did not consider it immoral to keep ill persons in prison, since they had all been convicted “of a crime”. It turned out that Sukhacheva was unaware of the existence of Article 100 of the Russian Corrective Labour Code, concerning the release of prisoners on grounds of illness.

Dr. I. Yemelyanova of the Mordovian camps testified that food in the camp was of good quality, that there were no seriously ill prisoners, and that ill prisoners were never made to work. Svyatoslav Karavansky (suffering from a cerebral deficiency), Yu.P. Fyodorov (chronic nephritis), Valentyn Moroz, Alexander Murzhenko and all the other prisoners “… are practically healthy. When necessary we provide immediate medical aid. In the camp we have not only Soviet, but even imported medicines”. Yemelyanova then admitted that the diagnoses in the camp medical histories corresponded, regarding facts, to those given in the relevant MHG document; when Orlov then turned to the court and asked what, in that case, constituted the slanderous nature of the document, Judge Lubentsova was silent.

The head of the hospital at Perm Camp 35, Yu. Sheliya (CCE 44), told the court that “the conditions provided for sick prisoners are not simply good — they are excellent! In my opinion, they couldn’t be better!” When Orlov, who was interrupted, as happened almost every time he asked a question, asked about an incident involving Pronyuk, the Judge announced a break.

After a five-minute break, during which Orlov saw his investigator, Trofimov, coming out of the room where the prisoner witnesses Anisimov (CCE 44) and Dovganich (CCE 48) were waiting, Orlov petitioned the court for an explanation of such a gross violation of the law. Lubentsova rejected his petition: “This has no bearing on the case; the investigator has the right to be where he needs to be, when he needs to be.” Anisimov, a prisoner from Vladimir Prison, told the court that “he personally” had never received rotten food, that prisoners were often punished for ‘inter-cell communication’ – V.G. Lubentsova corrected him: “that is, for violation of the regime!” – that some prisoners (he mentioned Abankin in this connection) only made the pretence of declaring a hunger-strike, and did not actually carry it out… Orlov, seeing how terribly pale, thin, wrinkled and terrified Anisimov was, refrained from asking him any questions.


After the trial political prisoner A. Zdorovy (CCEs 44, 48) sent the following statement to the Russian Supreme Court:

I have learned from reports in the press of the trial of Yu.F. Orlov, corresponding member of the Armenian Academy of Sciences, D.Phil. (Physical and Mathematical Sciences), a man who has made every effort to ensure the practical implementation of the Helsinki Agreement by the Soviet government and the fulfilment of its obligations in the field of human rights as regards the citizens of the USSR, and who has fought against the violation of these rights in the USSR.

Among the charges brought against him by Soviet bodies is that of making ‘slanderous’ and ‘false’ allegations concerning the violation of elementary human rights in the Corrective Labour Institutions of the MVD: quantitative and qualitative shortcomings in the prisoners’ diet, the compulsory eight hours of hard labour a day, six days a week, the unsatisfactory living conditions.

In order to “prove the false and slanderous nature” of such allegations by Yu.F. Orlov, the investigative agencies have been employing the testimony of untrustworthy witnesses specially selected from among the prisoners and rehearsed in advance by the KGB in their places of imprisonment. These persons, as a rule, are enlisted as informers by KGB officials at the corrective labour colonies, or by labour colony officials, and become entirely dependent on these officials. They are told, or it is hinted to them: ‘If you give the required testimony you will earn an improvement in your present conditions or in your future fate’. I am personally acquainted with several such false witnesses, examined by the investigation and the court as witnesses for the prosecution in the case of Orlov. One of them,  V.P. Anisimov (b. 1937?) is a criminal recidivist, imprisoned for vagrancy, hooliganism, robbery, armed robbery, escapes, and, finally, for ‘politics’ under Article 70 of the Russian Criminal Code. In an attempt to save himself from being murdered by the criminals in a camp, he quickly wrote a leaflet and hung it on the door of the camp refectory. A grateful KGB official, bored at the lack of work in the criminal zone, swiftly organized for Anisimov a sentence and the salvation of transfer to Vladimir Prison. In the autumn of 1974, in the prison, on the initiative of senior KGB operations official N.A. Obrubov, Anisimov was ‘cleared’ of recidivism (some legal loophole was found), and then he was transferred from the ‘striped’ to the ‘black’ category [i.e. from special-regime to ordinary regime status].

All this he had to ‘earn’, and then they started to employ him as a ‘stool-pigeon’ in the cells containing political prisoners, especially those who were soon to be released or with whom the prison administration or Obrubov had a special relationship. In particular, he spent a long time in the cells of V. Konstantinovsky, M. Makarenko, K. Lyubarsky, V, Bukovsky, G. Davydov, A. Safronov, G. Superfin, Gaiduk, Abankin, Sergiyenko and others. For the same reasons I too was obliged to share a cell with Anisimov in Vladimir Prison, for about eight months in all. I got to know this character and his ‘cases’ well, and the miserable role he agreed to play in relation to the prisoners at the insistence and instigation of Obrubov, of Inspector Captain A.A. Doinikov and prison operations officials Lieutenant Alexandrov and others.

I also had the opportunity of observing and hearing how this type was prepared for the part of false witness in the Orlov case (and perhaps they intended to use his testimony in other cases: those of Ginzburg, Lukyanenko and others). When he returned from his regular interview-instruction sessions, to which he was summoned almost daily – sometimes two or three times a day – he attempted to explain these suspicious visits to his cellmates and often gave himself away, sharing his thoughts and saying straight out that Obrubov and some, as he put it, ‘investigator from the administration’, were preparing him to give evidence in the Orlov case. Anisimov was twice summoned for interrogations in the Orlov case: first by the local KGB, then by a visiting investigator from Moscow (according to Anisimov himself). He said that N.A. Obrubov and others had assured him that if he gave the required testimony he could count on an improvement in his conditions of imprisonment, a reduction of his sentence, or, at the very least, a transfer from prison to a different camp from his previous one, once half his sentence was completed.

While they were preparing Anisimov to give false evidence, N.A. Obrubov, A.A. Doinikov and others ensured that he was always given food of norm 5b quality (reserved for prisoners with stomach ulcers, tuberculosis and so on). There were no medical grounds on which Anisimov should have been given the 5b diet.

On his return to Vladimir Prison Anisimov was boycotted by political prisoners there. In September he was sharing a cell with Shcharansky.


Dovganich, a prisoner in Perm Camp 36, was questioned. He earned a sentence under Article 70 in a camp, where he had been imprisoned for “Violation of the Laws on Currency Transactions”; prior to this he had been sentenced for speculation. V. Bukovsky’s light touch had nicknamed him ‘Bath-head’ [Zavbanich]: in the intervals between his stays in hospital, where he contrived to spend months at a time, Davganich always “worked” as head of the bathhouse or as a barber. The witness told the court about the (in his opinion) very good conditions in the camp: a weekly change of underclothes; a camp shop which sold wafers, jam and toffee; billiards; sports activities. Dovganich spoke disapprovingly of the ‘young trouble-makers’ (Gluzman, Altman, the Zalmanson brothers) who were on bad terms with the ‘older prisoners’, simply because the latter had shot Jews during the war and were now helping the camp directors.

Yoin Yakovlevich Kozhokin, Senior Poultry Officer at the ‘Rossiya’ collective farm in the village of Ilynka, and the farm President V.D. Tarasov were summoned as witnesses in connection with MHG document No. 9 (CCEs 43, 48, 49). They both told the court about the material and cultural plenty in Ilynka (a club, television sets, motorcycles, food). Kozhokin did not know whether many of his fellow collective farmers were preparing to leave: he himself had given the invitation he had received from Israel to Tarasov, who had sent it to the district Party committee; Tarasov, although he did not remember the statistics, testified that there were no obstacles to emigration. Referring to the passage in document No. 9 which says that “Ilynka is literally isolated by the authorities from the outside world” (with reference to the seizure by the authorities of invitations from Israel), the Judge asked Kozhokin about the ‘isolation of the village’. The witness, ‘correcting the slander,’ said that there was a bus service to the village, bringing newspapers and magazines.

The last three witnesses were summoned to describe Yu.F. Orlov’s scientific work “a capable person but ambitious, a careerist” and his “public persona” (not patriotic, as a Soviet scientist should be by definition but, instead, a slanderer).

A.V. Lebedev, a senior researcher at the Institute of Theoretical and Experimental Physics [ITEF], had read Orlov’s letter about the position of Soviet scientists and considered it slanderous: all the rights of Soviet scientists, affirmed Lebedev, are protected by Soviet law; any Soviet physicist can publish freely, travel abroad to conferences and seminars, have free contact with foreign colleagues, whatever his views and beliefs; Lebedev knew of no cases of discrimination. After Orlov’s dismissal from work in 1956, he was only expelled from the Party and was allowed to defend his master’s and doctor’s theses and to be elected a corresponding member of the Armenian Academy of Sciences; therefore, he was a slanderer.

Orlov asked a few questions: Was the witness aware of what had happened in 1956 to his reports which had been sent to an international conference? Did he know how long Orlov was without a job after 1956 and after 1973? Whose name was removed from the list of authors of the accelerator project? Why was Orlov’s name removed from the list of candidates for a State Prize in 1974? In what manner had A.S. Kronrod been dismissed from ITEF (CCE 1.3, pt 3)? The witness answered, “I don’t know” to all these questions. To the question: how could one find out that a certain scientist had been dismissed for political reasons — from the newspapers, perhaps? — Lebedev did not reply for a long time (from the hall came the exclamation “What an idiot!”), until Lubentsova told the witness that he was free to go.

Orlov’s neighbour at home, B. Sinitsyn, a Party secretary at one of the Academy of Sciences Institutes (and an Economics Ph.D.), often saw, as he put it, “diplomatic cars” parked outside the building and considered this evidence of Orlov’s efforts to become known in the West. He recalled that Orlov did not approve of the one-party system and the obstacles to free emigration in the USSR. He did not recall the details of his conversations with Orlov, nor did he understand Orlov’s questions. At the end of his examination, with visible relief, Sinitsyn tried to leave the courtroom and Judge Lubentsova had to tell him that he would not be permitted to leave until the break.

Akop Aleksanyan, Party Secretary at the Yerevan Physics Institute and a D.Sc. (Physical and Mathematical Sciences), regarded Orlov as a high-class physicist, but said that he had given the institute an ultimatum: either they made him an Academician, or he would leave; he was always saying: “I will leave! I will leave!” Orlov’s exclamation: “Akop! That’s nonsense!” was cut short by the Judge. After hearing out the witness’s ideas on the necessity of Soviet scientists possessing a harmonious unity of creative and moral qualities, Lubentsova dismissed him.

The third day of the trial opened with verification of the presence in the case file of a number of documents cited by the Procurator. The correct procedure for reading out the titles of documents is stipulated by law (Article 292, Russian Code of Criminal Procedure) and Orlov tried to follow this when his turn came. He quoted in full the title of the document and tried to describe its content. Each time the Judge interrupted him: “Name only the number of the volume and the page. The court is familiar with the content of the documents! The court had a whole week to acquaint itself with the documents!” Among the documents cited by Orlov were: materials on the fines imposed on  believers; material on the complaints of prisoners about the poor quality of prison food; records of the examination of the personal affairs of Karavansky (the fact of his being punished while ill) and of Kovalyov (the fact of his being punished after his operation); information about the visit to Snezhnevsky and the Medical Administration of the MVD from A Chronicle of Current Events No. 36 (Judge: “This is not relevant to the case!” Orlov: “I am entitled to refer to publications as well as to factual evidence”); a medical report on Plyushch dated 29 March 1975; and a TASS report in which Orlov was described as an NTS agent (CCE 44).

Orlov then submitted some petitions to the court:

  1. that several confiscated documents and possessions be returned to I. A. Valitova;
  2. that four additional witnesses be called (A.I. Ginzburg, I.A. Valitova, Stakhanov, a scientific researcher at IZMIRAN, and Kurdyumov, the chairman of that institute’s trade union committee);
  3. for permission to dispense with the services of his lawyer (at this point Orlov thanked E.S. Shalman for his legal and moral support).

The first two petitions were refused, with no reasons given; the third, after long exchanges, was granted.

During the break, Shalman, who had stayed in the courtroom, was forcibly removed and locked in a room. There was a telephone in the room, however, and after consultations with the Presidium of the Moscow Bar, the door was unlocked and Shalman returned to the courtroom.

Closing speeches

Each side then presented its case. Procurator Yemelyanov made his prosecuting speech:

“Comrades! Sixty years ago, under the leadership of the Communist Party, the workers and peasants of our country took power into their hands and the building of a new, communist society began. At the present time, Soviet people have set about the building of communism, the bright dream of mankind.

“In an attempt to defame our system, the imperialists have devised fantasies about there being “varieties of socialism”, for example ‘democratic socialism’. In fact, only one form of socialism exists — the real socialism built in our country … In their efforts to blacken the Soviet system the imperialists count on politically immature people in our country, on various drop-outs — they do not even disdain the mentally ill… In 1956, on the pretext of criticizing the Cult of Personality, Orlov tried to subvert the policies of our Party and found himself outside the Party. Gradually Orlov falls under the influence of anti-Soviet organizations and propaganda centres.

“At the end of 1973 Orlov left his job and from then onwards devotes himself entirely to anti-Soviet activities. Orlov writes a letter to Brezhnev, in which he compares our society to a system of slavery and feudalism, identifying socialism with the fascist Reich. In the letter Orlov slanders Soviet science. The USSR forged the way to the cosmos … We publish two or three times as many English books as the number of Soviet books published in England. Orlov’s letter contains attacks on our ideology. Naturally, this letter was widely used for anti-communist propaganda with subversive aims …

“Orlov speculates on the interest of Western society in the Helsinki Accords. Disguising his subversive aims, he fabricates documents about violations of these Accords which are supposed to have taken place in the USSR and sends them to the embassies of capitalist countries, to the editors of foreign newspapers and radio stations. Orlov has tried to defame the domestic and foreign policies of the USSR, advocated the subversion of the system existing in our country and called for struggle against it…

“Orlov was a pawn, though, it must be noted, a conscious pawn. I wish to draw the court’s attention to the fact that Orlov is a dangerous State criminal. Orlov’s guilt in carrying on anti-Soviet agitation and propaganda with the aim of undermining the Soviet regime, in fabricating and disseminating slanderous falsehoods and documents which defame the Soviet political and social system, has been fully demonstrated.”

The Procurator demanded that the court sentence Orlov to seven years’ imprisonment in a corrective labour institution with strict regime, and to five years’ exile.

Orlov’s speech in self-defence

In his defence speech Orlov said that the prosecution speech had been three-quarters political. And as long as there were political prosecution speeches, there would be political prisoners. The charges were based on ideology; therefore he, Orlov, was also entitled to speak of ideology. He was being tried not for criminal offences, as the Procurator claimed, but for ideological (or political) ones. Moreover, Orlov regarded the Procurator’s speech as an insult to him personally.

Judge Lubentsova interrupted Orlov, announcing that he should not have dismissed his lawyer, since he himself obviously had no idea of the ‘authorized’ way of making a defence speech.

Orlov asked not to be interrupted. He went on to describe the Procurator’s speech as a prime example of ideological intolerance; this was always harmful, but when applied to whole societies, it was positively dangerous. He again tried to expound his views, to describe the activities of the Moscow Helsinki Group, of which he was the leader, to point out that the Procurator’s speech slandered him, that it was devoid of concrete facts regarding the points of the indictment, but he was constantly interrupted by the Judge telling him what one should and should not say in a defence speech, by the Procurator “drawing the court’s attention” to the fact that the defendant continued to engage in ‘agitation’, ‘slander’ and ‘demagogy’ in the courtroom, and by hostile, insulting shouts from the ‘public’.

Orlov said:

“We became convinced that approaching our government through the governments of other nations was more effective than a direct approach. For this reason, we wanted the Moscow Helsinki Group’s documents to be discussed at the Belgrade Conference [1977-1978]…” (Lubentsova once again interrupted him) “Each country has its own laws … It is in the nature of things that these laws may come into conflict with humanitarian values and with international agreements and treaties. And it is also in the nature of things that in each country there should be people and groups of people striving to ensure that the internal laws of their country are based on international covenants and agreements and are applied in the most humane way possible …”

Judge: Defendant Orlov, you do not understand how to defend yourself in the proper way. I declare your defence speech finished. Move on to your final plea.

Orlov was given five minutes in which to prepare his final plea. He said:

“You may sentence me to seven years’ imprisonment, you may shoot me, but I am convinced that trials like this one will not help alleviate those ills and shortcomings to which the documents of the Helsinki Group bear witness and about which I have tried to speak here…”

At this moment the members of the court left the courtroom, and the defendant was led out under guard, so that he was unable to finish his final plea. The final session of the court was fixed for 10 o’clock the following morning.

At 1.30 pm on 18 May Judge Lubentsova read out the verdict, the descriptive part of which was essentially a repetition of the indictment.

Yury Fyodorovich Orlov was sentenced to 7 years’ strict-regime camp and 5 years’ exile.


As usual in such cases, the court building was surrounded by police and KGB officers in plain clothes. In comparison with previous occasions (for example the trial of Tverdokhlebov), the behaviour of the police and state security officials differed only by more demonstrative, indeed blatant rudeness, insolence and lack of any shame.

Before the [last] 15 May hearing, several people who had been waiting in the court building since early morning (in particular Sergei Yermolayev, CCE 48, 49) were literally thrown from the porch into the street. There were at least three cordons of guards surrounding the building: [1] at the doors themselves, so that no one should slip into the building; [2] at the fence about 20-30 metres from the doors – anyone who crossed this line away from the building was not allowed back again, so that the crowd of supporters who had got to the doors had already grown noticeably smaller by noon; [3] and at the ‘farther approaches’ to the court building. The basic ‘screening’ took place at the outermost cordon: a “No Entry” sign prevented journalists’ cars from getting any nearer to the court building: people who reached this point were immediately taken under surveillance by state security agents, and so on.

About two hours after the opening of the trial, when I. Valitova (for the first and last time) managed to leave the courtroom during the break and began to relate her impressions to Western correspondents, the group of listeners was literally thrust apart, and cameras and tape recorders were torn out of reporters’ hands. When Yury Golfand emerged with a group of friends through the ‘second cordon’, he was seized and bundled into a black car which was waiting by the third barrier; he was driven to police station No. 103, where they searched him, and, not finding any cassette tapes, disappointedly let him go. The atmosphere was aggravated by the fact that that morning, as soon became known, searches had begun in connection with the arrest the previous evening of Alexander Podrabinek at the homes: of Tatyana Velikanova, who was under house arrest; of Vyacheslav Bakhmin, who had been sent away on an urgent official trip; and of Tatyana Osipova and Leonard Ternovsky, who had both managed to get to the trial.

On the evening of the same day Malva Landa, who had managed to get to the Taganskaya metro station, was seized and bundled into a car. She was interrogated for three hours at police station No. 70: “What were you doing at the court?” “Why did you come to Moscow, where you have no residence permit?” and so on. The interrogation was conducted to the accompaniment of insults and threats: 15 days ‘for insubordination’, or 30 days ‘for your personal enlightenment’. Landa was detained a second time on 19 May, on Volgin Street as she came out of Ginzburg‘s apartment. She was taken to the same police station, where she was told that she had no right at all to be in Moscow, especially not for the purposes of ‘anti-Soviet activities’. After the customary round of insults and threats, the man in charge “confiscated” papers (relating to the trial of Orlov). They refused to give Landa a copy of the list of confiscated items, saying: “With us everything is done on trust!”

On 17 May, after he had spent some time outside the court building, Josif Begun was arrested (see “The Trial of Josif Begun”).

As well as the police and non-uniformed KGB officials, a fairly large crowd portraying “the anger of the people” gathered outside the court building on each of the four days of the trial. The rowdy shouts and occasionally more actively provocative behaviour of this crowd — its composition differed markedly from the few genuine passers-by, who were attracted to the scene by curiosity — clearly had two functions: to provoke incidents and to justify the presence of large numbers of police as protection for Orlov’s supporters from the angry ‘toilers’.

On one of the days of the trial a group of people surrounded the Baptist V. Khailo, who had travelled to Moscow for the trial. He willingly entered into a discussion and was patiently explaining something when his ‘opponents’ began to shout and hurl insulting jokes at him. Finally, when someone actually spat in his face (even then Khailo tried to appeal to the hooligan’s conscience) the police intervened. V. Khailo was led away to a police station, where he was charged with insulting citizens and spitting at someone: a ‘witness’ was even found.

On the morning of 18 May, A.D. Sakharov and E.G. Bonner approached the cordon, insisting that everyone was entitled by law to hear the reading of the verdict. Several people loudly supported them. As Sakharov and Bonner moved towards the cordon, a policeman struck E.G. Bonner hard. She slapped the policeman’s face in response: she was seized, her arms twisted, and she was dragged into a police car, A policeman pushed Sakharov away as he rushed towards her; Sakharov raised his hand and he too was bundled into the car.

At the same time the police seized Dmitry Leontyev, Yelena Armand, Vitaly Korotich (who was also beaten up) and Nokin. They were all driven to police station No. 103. From there they were taken to court, where Ye. Armand was fined 20 roubles, and Korotich, Leontyev and Nokin were sentenced to 15 days’ imprisonment.

At police station No. 103 district Procurator Ushkov spoke to Sakharov and Bonner. Sakharov told him that none of those detained had done anything illegal, but that the action of Judge Lubentsova in not admitting the public for the reading of the verdict was illegal, as was the behaviour of the police, who had been so free with their tongues and their hands. They were released at 2.30 pm after some general had telephoned the head of the police station.

In the record of the detention of D. Leontyev it was noted that he “contributed to the release of citizen Bonner”. When Leontev was brought before the court he stated that he was not acquainted with the witnesses named in the record and demanded that A.D. Sakharov be summoned as a witness. The Judge answered that Sakharov and his kind ought to be shot.

On learning that Leontyev was a professional musician, the Judge said: “I knew it — a parasite and idler.” Having sentenced Leontyev to 15 days, the Judge called after him: “We should have brought criminal charges — for the likes of you, 15 years is too little!” During the next few days, D. Leontyev was taken to various police stations, but none was willing to accept him, saying ‘We don’t need sick people’ (Leontyev suffers from bronchial asthma and is in constant need of a breathing apparatus). On 23 May Leontyev was released and told to present himself on 30 May with a doctor’s certificate, to serve the remaining 10 days’ imprisonment. On that day he was ‘accepted’, although he did not bring a doctor’s certificate.

On 2 June Sakharov and Bonner were summoned to police station 103 and from there were taken to the district court (the same building on Yegorevskaya Street) where they were fined for “disobeying the lawful instructions” of police officials. Sakharov was fined 50 roubles, Bonner 40 roubles. According to the police record, they had obstructed the entrance to the court building and had not obeyed the order to move away.

On 22 May Valitova and Yury Orlov’s sons Alexander and Dmitry applied to Judge Lubentsova for permission for a visit, to which the law entitled them. Lubentsova told them to come the following day. On 23 May they were told in the court office that Lubentsova was on holiday. During the next few days one of the deputy chairmen of the Moscow City Court, to whom Yu F. Orlov’s relatives had turned on this matter, sent them to another deputy chairman and so on, until, finally, the chairman  himself, L.E. Almazov, told them that the ‘question’ (of the visit, provided for under Article 360 of the Russian Code of Criminal Procedure) was outside his competence. In the end Orlov’s relatives were given to understand that they should wait until the appeal had been heard.


On 18 July the RSFSR Supreme Court heard Yu.F. Orlov’s appeal.

The appeal was not read in full. The presiding Judge simply summarized it briefly: in his appeal, Orlov wrote that the court had heard his case in a biased and unobjective manner; that it did not call the witnesses he had asked for; that his petitions were turned down; that the documents which figured in the charges against him were not read out or analysed; and that the official record of the trial did not accurately reflect the court proceedings.

Procurator Vorobyov announced that the number of documents prepared and disseminated by Orlov, and the illegal manner of their preparation and dissemination, was evidence that he intended to undermine the existing order. He said that Orlov’s complaints about the court’s lack of objectivity were unfounded. “Orlov was interrupted in court for the good reason that he made inadmissible remarks — even in the courtroom he continued to carry on anti-Soviet agitation and propaganda.” The Procurator said that even after the trial Orlov continued to engage in anti-Soviet slander, saying that the trial record was false.

The Supreme Court did not alter the sentence imposed by the Moscow City court.


It was not until 21 July that Valitova and Orlov’s sons were granted permission for a 40-minute visit.

On 4 August Orlov arrived at Perm Camp No. 35. On his arrival he told the camp administration that he continued to regard himself as a member of the Moscow Helsinki Group and that he was in camp not only as a political prisoner but also as the Group’s observer.

On 21 August Valitova was granted a three-day visit to her husband.

At their meetings Orlov told his wife that immediately after his arrest the investigators had begun to threaten him with charges under Article 64 of the Russian Criminal Code (Treason) since he had supposedly “received instructions from the American Congress”. He was also continually threatened with charges under Article 88 of the Russian Code; for this reason they were preparing to investigate transactions (“currency operations”) that Orlov had made with commission shops regarding the sale of goods he had received in parcels (it was evidently with this in view that several skeins of imported woollen yam were confiscated during a search which took place after Orlov’s arrest, CCE 45). Over a period of 16 months, the investigative agencies had changed the formulation of the indictment several times, each time adjusting the testimony of witnesses to fit the current version.

As regards the appeal court procurator’s assertion that Orlov continued to slander Soviet authority even after the trial by saying the trial record was false, Orlov pointed to the numerous distortions of his questions to witnesses, of their replies and of his defence speech, and the complete omission of the Judge’s rude remarks and the shouts of the ‘public’, which had hampered him in conducting what was, in any case, a difficult defence. He made special mention of the premeditated distortion in the record of the position of his lawyer E.S. Shalman, to whom he was genuinely grateful for his petition at the end of the investigation asserting his client’s complete innocence (CCE 49) and for his expert help during the trial. In the record, Shalman was made to appear virtually as an aide to the Procurator (this ‘version’ of the lawyer’s position, thanks to the efforts of ‘informed sources’, came through even in foreign radio broadcasts).

Orlov told of the confiscation of the manuscripts of three works on theoretical physics and mathematical logic which he had written during the investigation period. He spoke of conditions during transit, which had greatly shocked him: the rudeness and vindictive behaviour of the guards; the filth in the overcrowded ‘Stolypin’ rail-trucks and the cells in the transit prisons, where he was kept together with common criminals; the six-kilometre trek at night, accompanied by guards and dogs; when, after he had fallen ill in transit, he was made to carry a bag with broken handles containing his belongings.

Orlov asked that the press and the public be informed that, in his capacity as representative in camp of the Helsinki Group, he intended particularly to raise once again the question of poor food in places of imprisonment and also to make a special complaint to the Procuracy about the illegal practices of the prison and camp administrators, who were punishing prisoners for their complaints.