8.4 The arrest of Ilya Gabai

No 8 : 30 June 1969

When Ilya Gabai’s flat was searched on 7 May this year, his archive of documents relating to the Crimean Tatars was confiscated. On 19 May Ilya Gabai was arrested and sent to Tashkent to be investigated by the same Berezovsky [who interrogated Pyotr Grigorenko, see Chronicle 8.3].

Ilya Gabai is a teacher, poet and scriptwriter, whose main work was as an editor. He was first arrested in January 1967 for participation in the demonstration on Pushkin Square. After four months in Lefortovo prison he was freed for want of a corpus delicti.

Following the appeal “To Public Figures in the World of Science and the Arts”, which Gabai wrote with Yuly Kim and Pyotr Yakir after the trial of Galanskov and the others, he was dismissed from his job, found himself unable to get work anywhere, and tried to get by on casual earnings. Although Gabai was away from Moscow on 25 August 1968, working as a labourer on a distant expedition, the investigating organs summoned him for interrogation in connection with the inquiry into the demonstration held on that day. The interrogation was to all intents and purposes about the aforementioned appeal. From October 1968 until his arrest, Gabai’s flat was searched four times. On each occasion the appeal was taken away, together with copies of letters written by Soviet citizens addressed to governmental and judicial organs, and some poems of Gabai’s. From his archive of Crimean Tatar documents they removed newspaper clippings relating to the brave exploits of the Crimean Tatars during the Great Patriotic War, copies of letters written by Crimean Tatar labourers demanding to return to their homeland, Academician Sakharov’s brochure [Thoughts on Progress, Peaceful Coexistence and Intellectual Freedom, tr.], the anthology “The Funeral of A. E. Kostyorin”, Information Bulletins of the Crimean Tatars  [see 5.1, items 6, 12, 13] and so on.

Tarasov, a senior investigator of the Moscow Procuracy arrested Gabai without production of a warrant, and had him flown out immediately to Tashkent. In Tashkent, investigator Berezovsky refused to answer any of the enquiries of Gabai’s friends there, also to pass on to him in prison a message from them; he declared that he had never heard of him and that there was no-one by the name of Gabai in Tashkent. A parcel of food, clothing and money sent by Gabai’s wife never reached him. For a whole month it lay in the Tashkent Post Office; the remand prison administration, who should by law have collected it and given it to the prisoner, did not do so, but informed Gabai’s wife that her parcels had not reached them. The Post Office sent the parcels and money back to her. Recently Galina Gabai travelled to Tashkent in order to hand over food, money and clothing to her husband in person.

Ilya Gabai’s friends have written a letter in his defence and sent it to the USSR Procurator General. They have also compiled a small anthology of Gabai’s verses, which has appeared in samizdat.