13.2 Moscow – the trial of Valeria Novodvorskaya

No 13 : 30 April 1970

The trial of V. Novodvorskaya took place on 16 March in the Moscow Region Court. (Born in 1951, she is a second-year student of the Institute of Foreign Languages [see Issue 11.7]). Charged under article 70 of the Russian Criminal Code (anti-Soviet agitation and propaganda), she was accused of preparing and afterwards distributing leaflets in the [Kremlin] Palace of Congresses on 5 December 1969 [Soviet Constitution Day].

The text of the leaflet was as follows:

A Poem on Constitution Day

Thank you Party
For all you have done and are doing
To nurture the hatred we feel today.
Thank you Party.

Thank you Party
For the high noon of grovelling duplicity,
For the inertia, deception and mental dishonesty
Thank you Party.

Thank you Party
For all the falsehood and lies,
For all the portraits and informers,
For the shots in Prague’s square,
For all the lies you’ve yet to tell.

For the paradise of factories and of flats,
All built on crimes in the torture
Chambers of yesterday and today
And for our black world.

Thank you Party
For our bitter unbelief
In the remnants of a formula
Lost in the misty darkness ‘fore the dawn.

Thank you Party
For our gall and our despair,
For our base silence
Thank you Party.

Thank you Party
For the burden of the foredoomed truth,
For the fusillades of future fighting
Thank you Party.

The trial took place in the accused’s absence, since she was pronounced to be of unsound mind by a diagnostic team from the Serbsky Institute in the following terms: “Schizophrenia, Paranoidal personality development”.

Novodvorskaya’s defence counsel was Bobuzhsky. He declined to meet Novodvorskaya before the trial, since, supposedly according to the law, defence counsel has no right to meet with a client who has been declared of unsound mind.

Five witnesses were questioned by the court: the policeman who had detained Novodvorskaya in the Palace of Congresses; a ticket controller from the Palace; a female student from the Institute of Foreign Languages; and also Novodvorskaya’s parents, who appeared at the trial as witnesses and were unable to speak as representatives of the defendant.

In his speech the Public Prosecutor observed that Novodvorskaya’s actions were akin to those of the terrorists who had shot at the astronauts.

The defence counsel requested that the court should replace Article 70 of the Criminal Code by the less serious Article 190-1.

The court decided that Novodvorskaya should be forcibly committed to the Special [Psychiatric] Hospital (in Kazan) [see 10.10] for treatment.

After the trial, when Novodvorskaya was allowed to meet her relatives, it turned out that she had not even been informed that her trial had taken place.