11.6 The arrest of Vladimir Gershuni

No 11 : 31 December 1969

Vladimir Lvovich Gershuni (b. 1930) is a nephew of the founder of the Socialist-Revolutionary Party [1], G. A. Gershuni.

In 1949 Vladimir Gershuni was arrested and sentenced by decision of the Special Board [i.e. in effect by the security police] to ten years in special camps for his part in an anti-Stalin youth group. The 1949 case was conducted by MGB investigator Nikolsky, who is now a pensioner. Vladimir Gershuni was tortured during the investigation. He was in the same camp which Solzhenitsyn describes in his story “One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich”, at the same time as the author.

*

Gershuni is a man with an unusually highly developed instinct for justice. For him, the struggle against lies and violence is not a part of life, but the whole of it. He cannot reconcile himself with any manifestations of Stalinism. Gershuni signed, amongst other documents exposing injustice, the appeal to the United Nations Commission on Human Rights.

Three weeks before his arrest Gershuni was detained in the underground. During a search supervised by men in plain clothes at the underground station’s police office, Gershuni had removed from him some samizdat, including a letter from V. I. Lenin to members of the Politburo [see 9.9, item 10], dated 1 February 1922, and the manuscript of a satirical story “Dyadya” [Uncle].

The day after Gershuni’s arrest, on 18 October 1969, a search was carried out in his flat. The record of the search shows two items:

  1. Samizdat material in manuscript and typescript;
  2. P. G. Grigorenko: A collection of materials “In Memory of Kostyorin” [see 5.1, item 12], text in typescript.

On 21 October a second search was made of Gershuni’s flat. On the same day searches were also made at the Moscow flats of Natalya Gorbanevskaya, Tatyana Khodorovich, and Anatoly Yakobson. It is very possible that these were connected with Gershuni’s case.

The investigation of Gershuni’s case is being headed by investigator N. V. Gnevkovskaya of the Moscow Procuracy. A charge has been brought under Article 190-1 of the Russian Criminal Code.

After his arrest Gershuni was put in Butyrka Prison, and a week later transferred to the Serbsky Institute for psychiatric examination and diagnosis. He was declared of unsound mind. Gershuni is now in Butyrka Prison. The investigation is expected to be completed in January or February 1970.