10.2 Trial of B.V. Talantov (Kirov)

No 10 : 31 October 1969

The Chronicle has already reported that the 66-year-old B. V. Talantov, a teacher, was sentenced by a court in Kirov to two years in [ordinary-regime] camps. In this issue some details of his trial are given.

The trial opened on 1 September. A group of believers, who sympathized with the accused, tried to get into the courtroom, but the seats had, as usual, been filled in advance.

B. V. Talantov was charged under Article 190-1 of the Russian Criminal Code with writing a number of articles of religious content, an article on the nature of the Soviet State, and various draft notes, including comments in the margin of a speech by L. I. Brezhnev. [He pleaded not guilty, see 9.10 “News in brief”, item 2.] Altogether only four witnesses were summoned in court, among them Gleb Talantov, son of the accused, and Nikodim Kamenskikh, a former seminarist. All the witnesses gave evidence in favour of the accused.

In addition to the Procurator, a former pupil of Talantov’s (who is now a teacher of dialectical materialism) spoke at the trial as a prosecutor for the public. Talantov’s defence was conducted by the lawyer [V. Ya.] Shveisky.

The Procurator agreed with the defence lawyer that the draft notes should not be held against Talantov, but otherwise he upheld completely the charge laid against him, saying that he considered all Talantov’s articles, including those of religious content, ‘deliberately false statements defaming the Soviet political and social system’. The Procurator demanded three years in camps for Talantov. The defence completely refuted the charge relating to the articles of religious content. Concerning the article on the nature of the Soviet State, in which there were some sharp criticisms of the Soviet State, the defence lawyer, while he did not agree with the views expressed in the article, maintained that its author sincerely believed in the correctness of his statements, and consequently there was no element of deliberate falsification in the document.

In his final plea, B. V. Talantov reaffirmed his allegiance to his convictions, although he allowed that he might have shown a subjective approach in certain of his judgments. He said farewell to his relatives, since, in view of his age and the state of his health, he had no hopes of regaining his freedom.

On 3 September the court pronounced him guilty. [ See 18.11 “Obituaries”.]