9.9 Samizdat update

No 9 ; 13 August 1969

1. Alexander Tvardovsky, “By Right of Memory”

This is a lyrical narrative poem, some parts of which were published in Novy Mir [monthly]. The full text of the poem was set up and printed, but the censor removed it from the page proofs.

2. Seven letters to A. Chakovsky

A collection of letters sent to A. Chakovsky about his article “A Reply to a Reader” and about the slanderous campaign against Solzhenitsyn on the pages of Literaturnaya Gazeta [The Literary Gazette weekly]. The writers of the letters are: film-worker L. S. Kogan; porter and former political prisoner A. Marchenko (now imprisoned again); B. I. Tsukerman; chemical engineer (now political prisoner) Lev Kvachevsky; sailor L. N. Tymchuk; turner V. N. Kryukov; and V. F. Turchin.

3. Crime and Punishment:  No. 3

The Chronicle is not in possession of any other numbers. This publication is devoted to uncovering the crimes of the butchers of Stalin’s time. It tells of the butchers, the sadists, the informers and those who committed crimes against humanity, where they are now and what they are doing. The “monster-investigator” Solunsky – he was described thus in the memoirs of Army General A. V. Gorbatov, “Years and Wars” – is living in Moscow and receives a high pension. Former commander of the Georgian NKVD, Nadraya, whose speciality was supplying women and girls for Stalin and Beria, was sentenced to ten years, released in 1965, and now lives in Georgia.  Retired KGB colonel Monakhov now lives in a well-appointed country-house outside Leningrad.  At the beginning of the Soviet-Finnish war, an extermination brigade led by him annihilated several hundred foreign communists in the Solovetsky camps.  They were lined up in a row, and one by one their heads were pierced through with lead-pointed sticks.  When it was suggested that Monakhov should be expelled from the Party, the First Secretary of the Leningrad regional party committee, Tolstikov, intervened to prevent it.

Alexander Vasilievich Sugak was deputy head of the Timiryazevsky district KGB, in Moscow.  In 19.52 he became even more savage than usual when persecuting the Jewish doctors [falsely accused of plotting to poison top political leaders – tr].  Now he resides in a villa outside Moscow, and is employed as Deputy-director of the Central Lenin Museum.

In 1966, Valentin Nikolayevich Astrov, writer of hundreds of denunciations, had a book published by “Sovetsky Pisatel”, The Steep Slope, in which he depicts – using pseudonyms – the people he previously slandered, and slanders them yet again.

No. 3 of the journal also contains information about Andrei Yakovlevich Sverdlov, which will be familiar to readers of the Chronicle [see No. 7.9].  An interesting extra detail is the information that A. Ya. Sverdlov writes detective stories for children under the pseudonym of A. Ya. Yakovlev.

4.  L. Anti-Tarasov, “On Certain Articles by Former KGB Colonel Lev Vasilevsky”

This work is dedicated to exposing the attempts made by former KGB Colonel L. Vasilevsky to slander in print the names of F. F. Raskolnikov, A. Eigner, and others who were slandered under Stalin and later rehabilitated as honourable men. Vasilevsky sometimes uses his real name, and at other times writes under the pseudonym of L. Tarasov.

5. ” Ilya Rips, Biographical Documents”

Reproductions of diplomas awarded to Ilya Rips for his victories in schools’ mathematical, physico-mathematical and physics Olympiads; character references; a Diploma for first place in the Republican competition for the best piece of student work; and brief articles from the newspaper Rigas Balss [The Voice of Riga]. Finally two published papers by Ilya Rips are listed. The second of them was printed in Papers of the USSR Academy of Sciences (Volume 186, No. 2, 1969), not long before his attempted self-immolation.

6.         A.S. Volpin, ‘‘To All Thinking People”

The author welcomes the great news that man has reached the moon, and muses on the future of space travel.  Has mankind reached the stage where he will not need to resort in space to “the age-old way of resolving problems on earth, by violence – problems which, if we had reached a higher level of moral development, we would solve only by peaceful means”? Volpin writes of the tragic spread of violence in the world, of the ”inertia which reinforces the corrupt traditions of servility and fear”. His conclusion is that mankind must use the time it has left before interplanetary flight becomes a commonplace, to achieve not only scientific and technological but also moral progress. In his postscript, the author declares:  “Being in Moscow, and enjoying the freedom of which my fellow freethinkers, A. Marchenko, P. Grigorenko, I Gabai, A. Sinyavsky, Yu. Daniel, Yu. Galanskov, A. Ginzburg, V. Bukovsky, L. Bogoraz-Bruchman [L. Daniel’s maiden name], P. Litvinov and many others have been deprived, I consider it my pleasant duty to proclaim their absolute right to express their admiration for this unparalleled achievement of human intellect and courage. These people will not shame our planet.

7. A. S. Volpin, “An Open Letter to the USSR Procurator-General R. A. Rudenko”

The author shows that the trials of persons charged with spreading deliberately false (slanderous) fabrications which defame the Soviet social and state system, appear to thinking people more like a means of intimidating freethinkers than a method of fighting the spread of anti-social slander. Volpin draws the logical conclusion that if judicial investigation organs are really worried by the spread of such fabrications, then they should above all be concerned to refute information which has already been spread.  According to Article 7 of the Principles of Civil Legislation, any public or state organisation, and the State itself – through the agency of the Supreme Soviet, has the right to bring a libel action against a person who has slandered it. That person will then be obliged either to prove the truth of his information, or publicly refute it. The court decision and other trial materials can be published, and then criminal prosecution will no longer be necessary. Criminal proceedings create martyrs, and do not allow the validity or invalidity of the information spread to be satisfactorily determined.

8.  Record of the Trial of Boris Kochubievsky

The record is extremely interesting despite its fragmentary nature. Some of the information is already familiar to readers of the Chronicle, but a few details may be added which were not mentioned in Issue 8 [see 8.1]. The speech of the defence lawyer is an example of the kind of address which the public has not heard in recent years: describing the content of his client’s real or supposed statements, the lawyer does his utmost to blacken the picture, and, incidentally, he believes not his client, who denies ever having made many of these statements, but those witnesses who assert that Kochubievsky did indeed make them. The only point made by the lawyer as a defence is a denial of the deliberate falseness of the accused’s statements, ‘the sincerity of his delusions’. It should be noted that ‘deliberate falseness’ is an essential feature of a criminal offence under Article 187-1 of the Ukrainian Criminal Code, and a defence can be constructed on this point alone; there is no need to sympathize with the accused’s opinions, nor, for that matter, to abuse them, nor to declare his convictions harmful and slanderous, or his testimony in court false.

9.  Valery Chalidze, “Reflections on Progress, Peaceful Coexistence and Intellectual Freedom”

This work, named after the treatise of Academician Sakharov, is a reply to it. The author discusses the problem of the relation of Soviet state law to the dualism of the Party and State hierarchies, the dangers of departing from formalism in legal procedure, and other questions.

10.       A Letter to the members of the Politburo

This letter, dated 19 February [March, see 15.12] 1922, is signed by Lenin and demands that the most merciless measures be taken to crush all opposition to the proposed confiscation of church treasures. The instructions contained in the letter do not conform to the principles of socialist legality. They are the product only of the political and tactical requirements of the moment:

‘We must appropriate at all costs this source of several millions—or perhaps even billions — of gold roubles’; ‘suppress their (the clergy’s) resistance so brutally that they will remember it for decades to come’; send a member of the All-Union Central Executive Committee of the Soviets (VTsIK) to the town of Shuya [NE. of Moscow, where clashes had occurred], with ‘verbal instructions’ to arrest no less than several dozen representatives of the clergy, the middle classes and the bourgeoisie ‘on suspicion of direct or indirect participation in violent resistance to the VTsIK decree concerning the confiscation of church treasures’; ‘on the basis of his report, the Politburo will issue a detailed directive, also verbal to the judicial authorities, so that a trial of the rebels of Shuya for resisting the campaign to help the starving can be held as quickly as possible and can end, unfailingly, with the execution of a very large number of the most influential and dangerous Black Hundreds of Shuya, and if possible not only of Shuya, but of Moscow also, and several other ecclesiastical centres: ‘the more representatives of the reactionary bourgeoisie and the reactionary clergy we manage to execute on this suspicion, the better’.

The famine appears consistently throughout the letter as providing a convenient set of circumstances in which the confiscation of church treasures can be carried out without fear of resistance from the peasantry. The millions or milliards of roubles are required not for famine relief, which admittedly might have justified repressions; they are necessary so that the Soviet team may feel itself a power at the Genoa Conference [on European economic reconstruction of April-May 1922].

The letter is a top-secret document, and the channel through which it passed into samizdat is unlikely to be discovered. Therefore one should not regard the document as indisputably genuine: it would be wise to carry out a detailed textual analysis of the letter. Obviously official propaganda will not miss its opportunity to declare such a document a forgery. But in samizdat, where there is complete freedom of research, one should not rush to the opposite extreme: if the authenticity of the document is confirmed, then the profile of the first Chairman of the Council of People’s Commissars will become more clear-cut in the mind of the public.

11.  Varfolomei Zaitsev, “The Violent Lackey, or a Manifesto of servility”

Why has this pamphlet, first published in Geneva in 1877 in the uncensored paper Obshchee Delo [Common Cause], found its way into samizdat? Any quotation taken at random from it will explain why:  “We have been chained up in the cramped kennel of the Committee en Press Affairs, we are fed on the left-overs of the foreign press, which is sent to us with passages blacked out all over its columns, and, running up and down on our chain in an area five steps wide, we bark for days on end at the whole world, rightly believing it completely hostile to our owner;  we bark at foreign nations, at our own young people, and at every passing thought which does not bear the mark of our master.” Or:  “The wisdom of humility! Are we not wise! If the authorities order it – as the poet Kukolnik told us – I’ll become a midwife the next day.” “If the authorities order it,” said the liberal officers in Poland in 1863, “we’ll organise another uprising tomorrow.” “The authorities give the order – we crush the Hungarians and Poles. The authorities give the order – we liberate the Bulgarians and the Karakalpaks. They order us to play the liberal – we play the liberal, we glorify English customs, we condemn feudal payments and serfdom the moment we abolish them, we sympathise with Garibaldi and Gambetta, we abuse MacMahon, we fulminate against the Pope, Austria and Napoleon.”

12. Karel Kyncl: Speech at the meeting of the Prague city Committee of the Czechoslovak Communist Party (2 June 1969)

Karel Kyncl criticizes the speech made by Gustav Husak at the Praha-CKD factory after the May Plenum of the Czechoslovak Communist Party Central Committee. Kyncl believes that Husak’s assessment of developments of an immeasurably complex and, since August, frankly deformed nature was cheap, trivial and superficial. He had without question gone over to the side of the Warsaw letter, with which ten months ago he fundamentally disagreed; and he had referred to the violent intervention of the last August as nothing more than a misunderstanding. He had made crude attacks on the foremost figures in science and culture, and compared the weekly magazines Reporter and Listy with Radio Free Europe.

Kyncl challenged Husak’s assertion that not one man had been arrested or transferred to alternative work for political reasons: one could mention long list of people, he said, from Hajek to Smrkovsky to dozens of journalists, who had been transferred to other jobs for exactly those reasons. Just before this issue of the Chronicle came out, Kyncl himself joined the list:  the new management of Czech Television named him as one of the people with whom it would not cooperate, despite their excellent professional qualities, since they had “taken part in hostile campaigns” they would be replaced by other people. Also, when Kyncl made his speech, the wave of arrests had not yet begun:  but now criminal proceedings have been instituted against several hundred people in Czechoslovakia on charges of “distributing illegal publications”. A great many of the accused have been taken into custody.  So that this assertion of Husak’s too – that a return to the fifties is out of the question – has been disproved by reality.