1.2 Protests about the trial [Dec 1967 to March 1968]

<< No 1 : 30 April 1968 >>

The Moscow trial of Galanskov, Ginzburg, Dobrovolsky and Lashkova provoked a widespread response among the Soviet public. The first of these was an appeal, written while the trial was still in progress by Larissa Bogoraz and Pavel Litvinov, and addressed “To World Public Opinion”. it described the atmosphere of illegality attending the court hearing and called for public condemnation of this disgraceful trial, for the punishment of those responsible, the release of the accused from detention and a retrial which would fully conform with the legal regulations and be held in the presence of international observers.

After sentence was passed and the trial had ended, a series of collective and individual letters was addressed to Soviet judicial, government and Party authorities as well as to organs of the press (mainly in reply to articles which had appeared in certain newspapers). The total number of people who have signed such letters, up to the present, amounts to some seven hundred.

1. LIST OF THE PRINCIPAL SOVIET PRESS ARTICLES ON THE TRIAL

  1. “From the court-room”, Vechernyaya Moskva [“Evening Moscow” daily], 14 January 1968.
  2. T. Alexandrov and V. Konstantinov, “Bound by a single belt”, Izvestiya [“News” daily], 16 January 1968.
  3. F. Ovcharenko, “The lackeys”, Komsomolskaya pravda [“Komsomol Truth” daily], 18 January 1968.
  4. “No indulgence!” (a review of readers’ letters), Komsomolskaya pravda, 28 February 1968.
  5. A. Chakovsky, “Reply to a reader”, Literaturnaya gazeta [“The Literary Gazette” weekly], 10 March 1968. [See CCE 9.9, item 2]

2. DESCRIPTION OF THE MOST IMPORTANT LETTERS

2.1 — A letter to the USSR Procurator-General and to the RSFSR Supreme Court

on the lack of publicity given to the trial, the interference of state security bodies in the conduct of the court hearing, and the question of whether the charge of links with the  NTS was not a cover-up for dealing with activities which, although legal, were disapproved of by the KGB The letter calls for the case to be reheard by a differently constituted court, in full conformity with the rules of legal procedure, and with publicity [glasnost] completely assured. It also demands that those officials guilty of gross illegalities be called to account

80 signatures.

2.2 — A letter to the USSR Procurator-General and the RSFSR Supreme Court

enclosing the appeal by Bogoraz and Litvinov, which the signatories fully endorse. The letter refers to the trial having been effectively held in camera, to the biased nature of the court and the verdict, and to the increasingly arbitrary conduct of political trials in general. The letter calls for the case to be retried in an atmosphere of genuine publicity [glasnost] and in full compliance with legal norms in the presence of representatives of the public chosen from the signatories, and for the punishment of the persons guilty of organizing the trial and bringing the Soviet legal system into disrepute.

—224 signatures
(Known as the “Letter of 170”,
from the original number of signatures collected.)

2.3 — Letter to L.I. Brezhnev, A.N. Kosygin, N V. Podgorny, and the USSR Procurator-General R.A. Rudenko

concerning the lack of publicity [glasnost] during the trial and the obscurely worded and contradictory newspaper articles in Izvestiya and Komsomolskaya pravda, pointing out that the ‘open’ trials of recent years call to mind the ‘open’ trials of the 1930s. The letter calls for a fresh, public and objective review of the case in the interests of truth and legality and the prestige of the socialist state, and in the name of justice and humane behaviour.

24 signatures, mostly members of the Writers’ Union.

2.4 — Letter from ten Leningraders to the editors of Pravda, Izvestiya, the [foreign communist newspapers] Morning Star, L’Humanité and Unità

Supporting the appeal of Bogoraz and Litvinov and calling for the case to be retried. Simultaneously, the letter draws attention to the detention of a group of intellectuals in a Leningrad prison without trial for about a year, and expresses apprehension as to whether their imminent trial [CCE 1.6] will be conducted legally.

2.5 — Letter to L. I. Brezhnev, A. N. Kosygin and N. V. Podgorny, to the President of the USSR Supreme Court A. F. Gorkin and the USSR Procurator-General R. A. Rudenko

Concerning the injustice of the trial of Ginzburg, whose case is //MI girded as a direct continuation of the trial of Sinyavsky and Daniel, while the verdict and the charge of contacts with the NTS are seen as an attempt to crush the compiler of the collection of materials about their case. The letter calls for an immediate review of the case.

120 signatures

2.6 — Letter to the USSR Procurator-General and the RSFSR Supreme Court

from a group of scientists, engineers and graduate students in Novosibirsk. [For reprisals, see Chronicle 2.2.] It expresses alarm at the violation of the principle of publicity and calls for the verdict to be rescinded and the case reheard, and for the prosecution of those guilty of violating the principles of publicity and legality.

46 signatures

2.7 — Letter to L. I. Brezhnev, A. N. Kosygin, and N. V. Podgorny

from a group of Ukrainian intellectuals and workers. The practice of infringing the principles of legality and publicity is condemned in the letter.

139 signatures

2.8 — Letter from the relatives and friends of the accused to the chief editor of Komsomolskaya pravda and the daily newspaper’s Party committee

concerning the mendacity of F. Ovcharenko’s article ‘The lackeys’ and demanding an open discussion of the article in the editorial office and in the Union of Journalists.

29 signatures

2.9 — Open letter to the editors of Komsomolskaya pravda from O. Timofeyeva (Galanskov’s wife) with a detailed refutation of the false information given by F. Ovcharenko.

2.10 — Letter from L.I. Ginzburg (Ginzburg’s mother) to Komsomolskaya pravda about the libelling of A. Ginzburg by the author of the article “The lackeys” and asking for a correction and refutation of the article.

2.11 — Letter from ten friends and acquaintances of Ginzburg to the chief editors of Pravda, Izvestiya and Komsomolskaya pravda, refuting the articles in Izvestiya and Komsomolskaya pravda.

2.12 — Letter from thirteen witnesses who appeared at the trial, concerning the contravention of Article 283 of the RSFSR Criminal-Procedural Code

Which requires the witnesses to be present in the courtroom until the end of the court hearing: the Judge and the ‘court commandant’ had summarily dismissed the witnesses immediately after they had testified. The letter is addressed to the President of the Moscow City Court, the President of the RSFSR Supreme Court, the President of the USSR Supreme Court, the Procurator of the RSFSR Republic and the USSR Procurator-General.

2.13 & 2.14 — Letter to L. I. Brezhnev, A. F. Gorkin, R. A. Rudenko and the President of the USSR Academy of Medical Sciences, Blokhin, written by Z. M. GRIGORENKO

to protest against the refusal to summon her husband, P.G. Grigorenko, as a witness in the trial, on the basis of the false information that he was mentally ill. P. G. Grigorenko’s own letter to the RSFSR Supreme Court, setting forth the evidence which he was unable to give in court, concerning the origin of the money found in the possession of Dobrovolsky.

[ the Letters of the 116, the 44 and the 31 were all written before the trial ; for letters 15, 16 and 17 – see CCE 2.1]

The above is a list of the letters with the largest number of signatures and the letters of persons most closely connected with the trial and the accused and best acquainted with the facts of the case.

In addition, there is a large number of personal and collective letters of protest (up to 8 signatures). Among the most comprehensive of these may be mentioned:

  • the appeal by I. Gabai, Yu. Kim, and P. Yakir, ‘To those who work in science, culture and the arts’, in which the political trials of recent years are directly linked with other symptoms of neo-Stalinism in our country;
  • a statement to the President of the RSFSR Supreme Court by A. E. Levitin (Krasnov), who appeared as a witness at this trial and at the Bukovsky trial, in which he points to the encroachments on freedom of speech and conscience as a reason for the actions of Galanskov and Ginzburg and calls for both young men to be set free;
  • a letter sent to the Communist Party Central Committee by the chairman of the Young Guard (Jauna Gvarde) collective farm in Latvia, Party member I.A. Yakhimovich, concerning the immense harm done to our country by such trials and by the persecution of dissenters;
  • a letter from L. Z. Kopelev, a member of the Party and of the Union of Writers, addressed to the Secretariat of the Party Central Committee, in which he says that the recent trial constitutes a fresh attempt to ‘consolidate’ the ideological struggle and the work of political education by repressive actions which damage our culture and prestige and, eventually, state security itself: he calls for a review of the damaging decisions reached by the court, the dismissal of the persons responsible for such trials, the publication of the materials pertaining to these trials, and the removal from the public order and state security organs, the Prosecutor’s Office and the courts of the right to interfere in cultural life;
  • a letter from V. M. Voronin of Arzamas [closed city in Gorky Region] to the chief editor of Izvestiya concerning the immoral and unsubstantiated nature of the article by T. Alexandrov and V. Konstantinov, in which some facts are distorted and others glossed over;
  • a letter from the translator A. Yakobson demonstrating the falsity of the articles “The lackeys” and “Bound by a single belt”: the letter contains no additional information but merely analyses in detail the actual wording of the articles;
  • a letter from L. Plyushch, a mathematician in Kiev, to Komsomolskaya pravda in which he explains why he believes the samizdat documents about the trial and not the official articles.

Not one of these letters was answered.

1.3 Repressive measures in response
to protests about the trial …