10.9 The fate of Yury Ivanov

No 10 : 31 October 1969

After spending four months in the KGB isolation prison at Saransk, where the attempt to “re-educate” him failed, the artist Yury Ivanov has been sent to Camp 17 of the Mordovian complex. Before Saransk, Ivanov was at Camp 11, which has now been broken up and its inmates dispersed.

Yury Yevgenevich Ivanov is a Leningrader. Born in 1927, he is a son of the artist E. Sivers, who was arrested in February 1938, executed, and posthumously rehabilitated, and the grandson of a former Minister of Communications of the Russian Empire, who was arrested in November 1937, executed and posthumously rehabilitated.

Yury Ivanov was first arrested in 1947, with two other students of the Academy of Arts, for failing to attend lectures on Marxism-Leninism. All three were savagely beaten up during the investigation, and one of them died during it. Yury Ivanov and the second student were sentenced in absentia by the Special Board [see Commentary 10] to ten years each in camps. After Ivanov had spent one year in a camp – administration 16 of the Kitoilag complex – his relatives, who had been constantly campaigning for the case to be reviewed, achieved their aim – Ivanov was acquitted and released. After leaving the camp, Yury Ivanov graduated from the Academy of Arts and became a member of the Leningrad branch of the Artists’ Union.

In 1955 Yury Ivanov was arrested and convicted [of Counter-Revolutionary Activities] under Articles 58-3, 58-4, 58-10 and 58-11 for “passing around anti-Soviet literature”, and “creating an organization”, the members of which “were not discovered”. He was sent off to work on the construction of the Kuibyshev hydro-electric power-station; at that time about 8,000 prisoners convicted under Article 58 [i.e. political prisoners] were working on the elevator and the sluice-gates.

In 1956 Ivanov’s case, together with many others, was reviewed by a commission of the Supreme Soviet, but Ivanov was not released, since he refused to admit his guilt and did not repent. Soon after that he escaped, but was injured during his flight and picked up a week later. For his escape he was given a new sentence of a further ten years, to be reckoned from the time of his escape.

In 1956, after he had been sent to Dubrovlag, i.e. the Mordovian camps, Yury Ivanov led the strike committee of Camp section 7-1 during a prisoners’ strike in Camp 7. He was convicted under Articles 58-10 and 58-11 to a further ten years, to be reckoned from the time of his trial on the new charge. He spent a year in the Vladimir Prison.

In 1959 there was an exhibition in London of sketches done by Yury Ivanov in the camps.

At the beginning of 1963 he was again convicted for “anti-Soviet propaganda in the camp” under Article 70 para. 2; once again it was ten years, “the unexchangeable ten-rouble piece” in camp slang. He spent three years of this term in Vladimir Prison, then two and a half years of special regime in Camp 10 of Dubrovlag, and then in the summer of 1968 he was transferred to Camp 11 with the strict regime. During the time Yury Ivanov spent at Saransk, efforts were made not only to persuade him to repent, but also to force him to hand over to the state his right to receive a legacy from abroad which was due to him. On the first day of his stay in Camp 17a his paints were taken away from him.