8.11 The Union of Independent Youth (Vladimir) [December 1968 to May 1969]

No 8 : 30 June 1969

From two issues of the typescript information sheet Youth, it has become known that on l6 December 1968 a Union of Independent Youth was organised in Vladimir, operating legally under Article 126 of the [1936] Soviet Constitution. The organisers of the Union have applied to register it with the Executive Committee of the City Soviet.

According to its constitution, the Union of Independent Youth is a completely independent youth organisation, run by the young people themselves, who guide all the Union’s activities on their own initiative but within the bounds of Soviet law, and themselves direct these activities … The basic aim of the Union of Independent Youth is to promote in every way possible the development of socialist democracy and social progress in our country.”

The Union demands:

“the introduction of truly free and democratic elections”,

“real freedom of speech and of the press, freedom to gather, to hold meetings and demonstrations, and form organisations de facto”,

“an end to persecution of people for their convictions”,

“the publication of all works written by Soviet authors”,

“the liquidation of the illegal and anti-constitutional censorship”, and

“the strengthening of the struggle against crime”.

Apart from information about the Union, the “Youth” leaflets contain reports on events in Vladimir and other parts of the country.

The Chronicle quotes an extract from Youth //leaflet No. 2:

“In Vladimir the KGB are also carrying on the infamous ‘traditions’ of Stalinism. Employees of the Vladimir KGB have several times threatened the President of the Union of Independent Youth, V. Borisov, with internment in a camp, and have spread malicious slanders about him.

“The Vladimir KGB men do not shrink from thieving. True, it wasn’t they who did the actual thieving – they made a couple of cowards steal from V. Borisov two of his stories (one complete, the other unfinished.)

“Even among party workers the evil spirit of Stalinism still lives.

“For instance, Lapshin, the First Secretary of the-city Party committee, forbade V. Borisov, on behalf of the KGB and the Party Authorities, and in the presence of Afanasyev the Secretary of the Chemical Works Party Committee, to make any political utterances whatsoever, threatened him with imprisonment in a concentration camp, and told him that the KGB would follow him for the rest of his life.

“The First Secretary of the Vladimir Region Party Committee, Ponomarev, refused to talk with V. Borisov after he learned that Borisov had described him as having cut himself off from the people and fenced himself inside the protective wall of the Ministry of the Interior so that he only saw the people through his car windows when he went for a drive. So Ponomarev has turned out to be rather touchy – he doesn’t like it when people criticize him.”

In May of this year, Vladimir Borisov, a worker, though a philologist by education, was searched, and then forcibly interned in the Vladimir city psychiatric hospital [CCE 10.15, item 5 and CCE 14.11, item 17]. After some time, leaflets appeared in the town describing the Union of Independent Youth and the fate of its President. This publicity had some effect. One of the Union’s organisers was summoned to the City Executive Committee where he had a fairly peaceable discussion about the Union.

Borisov’s friends were allowed to visit him in hospital. During these visits they discovered that Borisov was being given some potent injections although he had been put in hospital “for investigation”. The hospital administration took fright when they learned that this had become known, and promised to release Borisov on 30 June. The Chronicle has no information on whether this promise was kept.