13.5 Kharkov – the Trial of Levin

No 13 : 30 April 1970

On 24 April in Kharkov an engineer, Arkady Zinovevich Levin, born in 1933, was put on trial. He was charged under Article 187-1 of the Ukrainian Criminal Code (equivalent of Article 190-1 of the Russian Code).

The investigator was V. E. Gritsenko, the judge Borisenko, the Procurator Lebedev and counsel for the defence Monakhov.

A.Z. Levin was accused of composing and disseminating two documents [see 11.11] (a letter in Grigorenko’s defence and an appeal to the United Nations).

There were seven witnesses in the case (five of whom were also signatories of the documents forming the substance of the charge).

Only the defendant’s parents were permitted to be present throughout the hearing (his brother and sister were able to be present only during the summing-up speeches). At the beginning of the trial the defendant Levin submitted a protest, demanding that his friends and relations should be allowed to be present at the hearing. The protest was rejected. In answer to this Levin declined to answer any questions.

Procurator Lebedev’s speech was distinguished by its vulgarity and unsubstantial nature. His basic argument was that since the defendant had received a higher education, he must have known that he was putting his signature to a slander.

In his speech counsel for the defence Monakhov demanded that in the absence of the components of a crime the defendant should be set free.

The officials of the KGB who were sitting in the courtroom (the overwhelming majority of the “public”) constantly roared with laughter, made vulgar remarks, whistled and interrupted the defence counsel with rejoinders like “We are very sorry for you,” or “We can’t understand what defence counsel is doing here anyway”.

The sentence was almost a word-for-word repetition of the indictment and condemned Levin to three years’ imprisonment in ordinary-regime camps.

Arkady Levin also declined to make a final plea, explaining this by saying that, as he had been present at G. Altunyan’s trial and knew the sentences on Nedobora and Ponomaryov, it was clear to him that his sentence had been decided in advance and he had no wish to take part in that sort of comedy.