Commentary No 1

No 1 : 30 April 1968

1.1 THE GALANSKOV-GINZBURG TRIAL

The accused

[1] Yury Galanskov had long been an active dissenter (see his writings of 1961). In 1965 he staged a one-man demonstration outside the US embassy in Moscow in protest against the American intervention in the Dominican Republic. [For a more extensive biography, see Chronicle 28.1.]

[2] By adding Alexei Dobrovolsky [see 9.6] who appears, unlike the others, to have had some genuine ties with the émigré Russian group, the NTS, the authorities could hope to induce a highly desirable atmosphere of conspiracy, subversion and foreign links. According to official documents in the émigré press (see Russkaya mysl (Paris) 7 March 1968 and Possev (Frankfurt) 6 October 1967) Dobrovolsky was sentenced to three years in 1958.

The trial

[3] Eminent Norwegian lawyer I.A. Soerheim tried to obtain access to the trial as an observer from Amnesty International but he was persistently barred. In their appeal “To world public opinion” Larissa Bogoraz and Pavel Litvinov may have been encouraged by Soerheim’s presence outside the court to demand the admission of international observers, suggests Peter Reddaway.

1.3 REPRESSION IN RESPONSE TO THE PROTESTS

The press conference which did not occur

[1] On 19 January 1968 Ginzburg’s mother and Galanskov’s wife tried to give a press conference about the trial but the Western correspondents in Moscow obeyed an order by the Soviet authorities not to attend. See Andrei Amalrik’s account, “The press conference of L. I. Ginzburg and O. V. Timofeyeva which did not take place” (Appendix 3 in The Trial).

Expulsion from the Party

[2] In the autumn the Chronicle reported: “A number of people have been readmitted to the Party on appeal, expulsion being replaced by the lesser sanction of a ‘severe reprimand’.” (see 5.3).

The defence lawyer

[3] Zolotukhin’s remarkable speech at the Ginzburg-Galanskov trial, and his speech at the appeal hearing, appear in The Trial (sections III and IV). An English text of the first speech is also in Brumberg (doc. 13). He was dismissed from the Collegium of Lawyers’ presidium. Finally, in June, he was expelled from the Collegium itself, i.e. deprived of the right to appear for the defence. The reasons for his expulsion were that “he uttered careless, politically vague formulations which gave our political enemies the chance to use them to the detriment of the Soviet State and Soviet justice, and did not take measures to deny them”. His appeal for readmission to the Party (see 2.1 (30) ), presented to the Party Control Committee, was not upheld.

The dismissal of Yury Aikhenvald and his wife Valeria Gerlina

[4] The record of a discussion of Gerlina’s case at a trade union meeting at her school and in the education department of the local Soviet soon began circulating in samizdat (partial text in Possev 10, 1968, and in A. Brumberg, In Quest of Justice (1970) doc. 77).

In the next issue this roll-call of people subject to extra-judicial reprisals was extended to make a list of 91 (see Chronicle 2.1). This total included people named in 1.3, especially those whose fate required correction or updating, but also added many more.

In late October Chronicle 5.3 did the same again, adding a further 63 names, although naturally only a small proportion of these had been persecuted in connection with protests against the Galanskov-Ginzburg trial.

1.7 VALENTIN PRUSSAKOV

this was another case which began with the police discovery of writings about anti-semitism and with their author’s participation in “nationalist gatherings” (12.6 (2) ) As the Chronicle later reported. Prussakov had in fact been persecuted in various ways since 1964, so in 1969 he decided to try emigration to Israel. In response to his application the KGB men were direct: ‘We won’t let you out… Your place is behind barbed wire.’ Nevertheless, he began writing appeals to the authorities, and also showe, his concern for the Democratic Movement by signing an open letter about the imprisonment of the biologist Zhores Medvedev. In early 1971 he had yet to reach Israel.

[POSTSCRIPT – DID THE POLITBURO SEE ISSUE ONE?

In the Bukovsky Archives there is a July 1968 report to the CPSU Politburo – the 15 men who ruled the Soviet Union – about the first issue of the Chronicle. The recently appointed head of the KGB  Yury Andropov, informs them (see document 1372-A of 11 July 1968, Section 3.1) about the appearance of the periodical and the role played by Litvinov, Yakir and Gorbanevskaya in its production and distribution, JC.]