COMMENTARY No 8

No 8 : 30 June 1969

8.5 The 6 June 1969 demonstration by five Crimean Tatars on Mayakovsky Square

* See Julius Telesin‘s detailed account of this episode in his preface to Uncensored Russia, pp. 49-50.

8.10 An appeal to the UN Commission on Human Rights

A fortnight after Pyotr Grigorenko‘s arrest the Action Group for the Defence of Civil Rights in the Soviet Union was formed. From the start the terms ‘civil rights’ and ‘human rights’ were used interchangeably in the group’s title and other such phrases. Both terms have a fairly modest ring. Perhaps because of the re-stalinization process which the group saw beginning, the more radical notion of ‘political rights’ was eschewed. Indeed, in such an atmosphere the very creation of the group required enormous courage, given the acute, almost paranoiac fear which the secret police in totalitarian states always feel for groups beyond their close control. As the fifteen people concerned represented not only Moscow but also Leningrad, Kiev, Kharkov and the exiled Crimean Tatars in Central Asia, violent KGB antagonism was in fact certain. Nor were these people cranks, but intelligent, mostly professional men and women with an average age of somewhat under forty.

8.11 The Independent Union of Youth (Vladimir)

[Article 126 in Chapter 10 (The Fundamental Rights and Duties of the Citizen) of the 1936 Constitution of the USSR reads “In conformity with the interests of the working people, and in order to develop the organizational initiative and political activity of the masses of the people, citizens of the U.S.S.R. are ensured the right to unite in public organizations – trade unions, cooperative associations, youth organizations, sport and defense organizations, cultural, technical and scientific societies […]”, JC.]

8.14 News in brief

Item 13 – Mustafa Dzhemilev among Tatars deported from Moscow

Mustafa Dzhemilev was born in 1944. In 1962 he was one of a group of young Crimean Tatars in Tashkent which took part in the growing Tatar campaign to be allowed to return home to the Crimea. For this he was sacked from his job in an aircraft factory. Six years later he wrote — at Pyotr Grigorenko’s request — a fascinating memoir about the group’s activities. In 1966-7 he spent a year and a half in prison. In 1970 he was duly sentenced to three years in strict-regime camps, as a co-defendant of Ilya Gabai [see 12.3]