11.8 The detention, arrest and trial of Victor Krasin

No 11 : 31 December 1969

Victor Krasin was born in 1929. He is a former inmate of Stalin’s camps, an economist by training, and a member of the Action Group for the Defence of Civil Rights in the USSR [see 8.10]. He is the father of three children.

At a quarter to midnight on 20 December Krasin was detained at a friend’s flat. Policemen and plainclothes agents broke into the flat, almost tearing the door from its hinges. Roughly pushing aside the lady of the house, and flinging open cupboards in the corridor as they passed, the men strode swiftly into the room where Victor Krasin was. They presented him with a warrant for his detention, signed by the Procurator of the Perovo district of Moscow. With Krasin in the flat were his wife and three children, and also seven children belonging to the owners of the flat. They were woken up as they slept.

Krasin’s wife wanted to telephone her friends and tell them of her husband’s detention, but the police did not allow her to do this, and called her a hooligan. The intruders wanted to search the flat without a search warrant. The owner tried to resist, but they took away some translation work from him, saying that they wished to examine it. After this Krasin was taken away.

Krasin’s wife and friends spent the whole night searching for him in the police stations of Moscow, and only next day did they succeed in discovering that he was being held in police station No. 57. Neither his friends nor his wife were informed of the reasons for his detention. On the morning of 22 December Krasin was transferred to police station No. 102, where he was held for the next two days. The deputy head of the criminal investigation department of station No. 102, Mikhailov, told Krasin’s wife, Anna Krasina, during a conversation with her: ‘We’ll do as ordered—we might release him, we might convict him, it doesn’t depend on us.’ During the time that Krasin was held in the police station, that is three days, access to it was strictly controlled; every person who entered was questioned in detail as to where he was going and to whom. In the evening of 22 December an ambulance was called for Krasin. The diagnosis was spasm of the aorta. Notwithstanding this, Krasin was left in the same cell in terrible conditions: no windows, no ventilation, and in the company of drunkards, hooligans and mental cases whom the hospital would not accept for treatment.

On 23 December Krasin underwent a medical examination, and was found to be suffering from heart and stomach trouble. The medical team which diagnosed him laid down that he could not engage in heavy physical labour, and recommended that he work in the speciality for which he was trained.

On 23 December Krasin was taken for an interview with the Procurator of the Perovo district, at which he was finally told the reasons for his detention and arrest: for one year and three months he had done no work, he had not thought of his children’s welfare, he had not attended parents’ meetings at school, and he had not been present on his son’s birthday.

Krasin is known as an active fighter against Stalinism. He had recently been working on the completion of his Master’s thesis, and had been employed as a freelance technical translator for The All-Union Scientific Research Institute for Technical Information [VNIITI].

At six o’clock on the evening of 23 December, after the interview with the Procurator, Krasin’s trial was held. His wife was not informed of the time or place of the trial, and it was quite by chance that she was present and appeared as a witness. Krasin was charged (according to the decree of the Russian Supreme Soviet of 4 May 1961) with leading an anti-social, parasitic way of life. The charge was based on a reference from a post at which Krasin had not been working for a year and three months. The reference was signed by V. Mikhalevsky, a laboratory head at the Central Economics and Mathematics Institute. Accusations that Krasin had failed to attend parents’ meetings [at school], and had not been present on his son’s birthday, figured in the trial too.

The Judge put the following question to Krasin: why was his mother’s surname Rozenberg? Krasin replied that his mother had kept her maiden name.

Anna Krasina stated that she had no complaints against her husband. For many years the whole family had lived on her husband’s wages alone, she said, and no one had ever expressed any interest in what her children were eating; at the moment she was earning a particular sum by translation work, and was anxious to finish work on her thesis. She said that to condemn her husband as a parasite would be completely unlawful.

The Judge asked Krasin what he could tell the Court. Krasin replied that he did not consider himself a parasite, but that if the Court brought in a verdict of guilty he would appeal against it, invoking the supervisory powers of the Procuracy.

Krasin was sentenced to five years’ exile, the maximum under this decree. On 24 December he was sent off in a convicts’ train for the Krasnoyarsk Region [Siberia].