2.2 Certain episodes in the campaign against those who signed letters

<< No 2 : 30 June 1968 >>

In Novosibirsk, the central theme in the persecution campaign has come to be the aim of purging Akademgorodok, i.e. the university and the institutes of the Siberian Section of the USSR Academy of Sciences (SSAS), of those who signed the Novosibirsk letter. This aim has found expression in many forms [1]: from more or less insistent suggestions that these people should leave ‘at their own request’ (in return for which several lecturers in the School of Physics and Mathematics have been offered posts and flats in Novosibirsk – anywhere, in fact, but in Akademgorodok) to outright threats.

A 36-year-old corresponding member of the Academy’s Siberian Section, R[oald] Sagdeyev, said: “They should all be driven out of Akademgorodok – let them go and load lead ingots.” Rumour has it that Academician Trofimchuk, corresponding members of the Academy Dmitry Belyayev and Slinko, and the Pro-rector of the University, Yevgeny Bichenkov, are distinguishing themselves in the persecution campaign. Because some of its lecturers had signed the letter, the Department of Mathematical Linguistics at Novosibirsk University has been disbanded on the initiative of the Dean of the Humanities Faculty, corresponding-member Valentin Avrorin. The continued existence of the Philology Department of the Humanities Faculty, and of the Department of Northern Languages and Siberian Literature in the SSAS Institute of Philosophy, History and Literature, is threatened.

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Three members of the Moscow Section of the Union of Artists, Boris Birger, Yury Gerchuk and Igor Golomshtok, were discussed and condemned at a meeting, but only verbally, no sanctions being imposed. Then the board presidium was convened, no notice of this being given, however, either to those to be discussed or to the five presidium members who might have been expected to object to sanctions. Only by chance did Birger and these five people hear of the meeting and attend. Thanks to this the motion to expel the three men failed.

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It is said that after certain phrases appeared in the press, especially in the Literary Gazette and Literary Russia, about the incompatibility of signing letters about the trial and remaining a member of the Writers’ Union, several writers (the names of Vasily Aksyonov, Yevgeny Yevtushenko and Vladimir Tendryakov have been mentioned) approached the Union Secretariat and declared on behalf of  100 (according to other versions 120 or 150) members of the Union, that if even one signatory were expelled, then they too would leave the Union’s ranks. It is also said that a similar statement was presented by Veniamin Kaverin [cf. 2.5] in his own name and on behalf of Pavel Antokolsky, Konstantin Paustovsky and Kornei Chukovsky.

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During a discussion in the Institute of the Russian Language concerning 11 research officers who had signed letters about the trial, a 32-year-old Master of philological sciences, Lev Skvortsov, distinguished himself by showing the greatest zeal in condemning them. This is approximately what he said: “I know that there is an anti-Soviet organization in Moscow and its centre is to be found in our Institute.” Lev Skvortsov is known as a secret participant [see 5.5, correction] in the expert textual examination conducted in the Sinyavsky-Daniel case (the official expert was, as is well-known, Academician Victor Vinogradov).

Skvortsov was also a consultant during the investigation into the case of Galanskov and the others, but the results of his textual analysis were not presented to the court for scrutiny because of their hypothetical nature. It is said that among his conclusions the “Letter to an Old Friend”, for example, was pronounced to be the joint work of Galanskov and Ginzburg, although to an unbiased eye and without resorting to stylistic and textual study, it is evident that it was written by a person of another generation. Since the “Letter to an Old Friend” was pronounced an anti-Soviet document in the court’s verdict, and had been presented as such in the indictment, the seriousness of an accusation of authorship may be well understood.