1. A. P. Sakharov, V. F. Turchin and R. A. Medvedev, “A letter to Party and government leaders” (dated 19 March 1970) ♦
A scholar with a world-wide reputation, “the father of the hydrogen bomb”, Academician A.D. Sakharov, the research physicist V. F. Turchin who is author of the well-known samizdat pamphlet “The inertia of fear”, and the historian R.A. Medvedev, author of the major work Before the Court of History [see 6.8 (1) ], have addressed a letter to L. I. Brezhnev, A. N. Kosygin and N. V. Podgorny in which they set out their point of view on the situation both inside the Soviet Union and in the international field.
The main theme of the letter is the idea of the far-reaching democratization of social life in our country.
Democratization is the cardinal condition for solving our urgent political and economic problems. It must facilitate the strengthening of the Soviet, socialist order, preserve and consolidate the Party’s leading role in all areas of the life of society.
Democratization should be introduced gradually, but in depth and determinedly, on the basis of a programme grounded in scientific method.
The authors of the letter state that there is a dangerous and growing lag between the level of our technical and economic development and the general world level in many extremely important respects (growth, rate of national income, labour productivity, etc.), and especially in the field of applying computers to the economy, where the USSR has fallen a whole epoch behind the USA. The supplying of industry with computers is, moreover, the most important issue in modern economic organisation and is rightly called the second industrial revolution.
In the opinion of the authors, the cause of our backwardness lies beyond the sphere of economics, not in the socialist order as such, but in something which is quite inimical to socialism: in the anti-democratic traditions and norms of social life which developed in the Stalin period and which even now are not fully eradicated.
Even if the anti-democratic distortions of Stalin are regarded as the “inevitable cost of industrialisation”, such phenomena are today becoming the main brake on the development of the country’s forces of production.
The modern economy has brought to the fore problems of management and organisation, but these are problems not of a special, but a general nature and ones which impinge on all areas of our life. The course of the 1965 economic reform has proved the impossibility of solving economic problems by purely economic measures. Accepting scientific methods in management means of necessity accepting wide freedom for individual and collective .creativity, the free exchange of information, and a large amount of general openness and publicity.
The constantly increasing role of the intelligentsia in the development of an industrial state demands, as necessary conditions of life for intellectual work, great freedom of information and creativity, or else a serious rift between the intelligentsia and the Party-state structure is inevitable, a rift which “could only be described as suicidal”.
The authors state that the signs of such a rift are many (persecution for political reasons, political trials, etc.).
The authors suggest that the most important result of democratization would be the liberation of the intelligentsia’s and the people’s creative forces. For the sake of this, it would be possible to put up with certain difficulties, which would come in the wake of the process of democratization. There is no other possible route, save that of hopeless backwardness and steady reduction to the level of a second-rate provincial power.
The authors put forward a rough plan of concrete steps for the democratization of the country (fourteen points in all) over the next four or five years. The main points of the proposals are the extension of general openness and control by the public, the achievement of full freedom of information and opinion, the solving of the education problem, the improvement of the legal system, the solving of the problem of “choosing” leaders, and the solving of the nationalities question.
This plan does not of course embrace all aspects of our national life, but proposes the creation of the fundamental prerequisites for resolving other questions, in the first place economic ones. Moreover, the suggested plan argues that “it is fully possible to outline a programme of democratization which is acceptable to both Party and government and roughly fits in with the national needs of the country”.
The authors are convinced that democratization will only raise our'” international standing, strengthen the forces of peace throughout the whole world, and lay the foundation for the most successful foreign policy course open to the USSR.
2. S. P. Pisarev, “To the Praesidium of the Soviet Academy of Medical Sciences”;
a letter with two supplements
The author, as mentioned in the first supplement, has been a communist since 1918. He has been a professional Party worker, a bibliographer, a veteran and an invalid of the Great Patriotic War [Second World War, 1941-1945]. He was also decorated. In January 1953 he submitted a report to Stalin, requesting that the case of the “Doctor poisoners” [mostly Jews accused of poisoning top leaders] should be re-examined [see 12.3, Commentary 12]. On 5 March 1953 (the day of Stalin’s death), he was arrested and held for two years, of which one and a half were spent in the Leningrad prison-hospital for psychiatric cases. The Serbsky Institute diagnosed schizophrenia, which was three times reconfirmed by the board of the prison-hospital. In 1956, Pisarev was rehabilitated by the Soviet Supreme Court and the Ganushkin Institute established that Pisarev was mentally in perfect health.
In his letter, the author draws the attention of the Presidium of the Academy of Medical Sciences to the fact that mistakes are being made over and over again in the conclusions of the Serbsky Institute of Psychiatric Diagnosis. The reason for the mistakes is the fact that the institute and its special clinics (i.e. prison-hospitals) are subordinate to administrative and investigating bodies (formally they are the responsibility of the Ministry of Health) and are used by them in ways “frequently altogether in conflict with the established knowledge of medical science”. To put it another way: the Institute and its special clinics give pseudo-scientific grounds for keeping mentally healthy people isolated in prison-hospitals for an indefinite period of time.
This was the sort of activity which the Institute indulged in on a large scale during the period of the personality cult [of Stalin] and for which it was exposed by a special commission of the Central Committee of the CPSU, headed by a Committee official of some standing, A.I. Kuznetsov. Hundreds of healthy people were released from mental hospitals. The culprits in the matter of the “erroneous” diagnoses were named, in particular D. R. Lunts, who was then a lecturer but is now a professor. The commission came to the conclusion that it was essential to reorganise the handling of psychiatric diagnoses and transfer both the Serbsky Institute and the Kazan and Leningrad psychiatric prison-hospitals entirely to the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Health.
However, neither the report nor the other materials of the commission sere examined at any level and two years later they were put into the archives. The participants and initiators of the commission were, under various pretexts, removed from the Central Committee apparatus, and the guilty men were not only not punished, but wore left in their posts. To the two special prisons several more were added and the Institute’s established practices still continue, although on a reduced scale.
The second supplement to the letter consists of an appeal by [P.G. Grigorenko’s] defence counsel [S.V. Kalistratova] dated 2 February 1970, and a note from Z.M. Grigorenko to the Presidium of the Soviet Academy of Medical Sciences, in which she associates herself with S.P. Pisarev’s letter, citing the fate of her husband P.G. Grigorenko, who had been declared insane by the Serbsky Institute and, on the basis of that diagnosis, sent for enforced treatment to a prison-hospital.
It is apparent from counsel’s appeal that the judgment of the expert psychiatric team, carried out in the Serbsky Institute, is groundless, that it contains no precise diagnosis of a psychiatric ailment and abounds in distortions, inaccuracies and arbitrary assessments. An analysis proves the falseness of the team’s judgment. The diagnosis of the first expert team, by which Grigorenko was declared to be sane, is also quoted in the appeal. Defence counsel appeals for a third expert examination to be conducted in court.
In a preface to the second supplement, S.P. Pisarev recalls that the Serbsky Institute has already once before, in the case of P.G. Grigorenko, made a groundless diagnosis of an “illness”, that this diagnosis was later rescinded, and that after nine months’ imprisonment in the Leningrad special hospital Grigorenko was removed from the list of those needing psychiatric care.
3. G. Shimanov, Before my death
This is a collection of various writings, both philosophical and biographical. Among them is “Notes from the Red House”, a detailed narrative about a stay in the Kashchenko Psychiatric Hospital [in Moscow].
G. Shimanov, who was born in 1937, has, because of his religious beliefs, been subjected to various sorts of persecution, culminating in his groundless committal to a mental hospital. His “Notes from the Red House” stand out for the depth and vividness of their exposition. Of particular interest are the author’s chats with the doctors in which it was explained to him, either directly or indirectly, precisely why he had been put in a “mad house”.
Attached to the collection are two appeals by G. Shimanov to Soviet and world public opinion (dated 24 February 1970) in which there is a clarion call to speak out against the practice of committing mentally healthy people to mental hospitals because of their opposition views.
Also attached to the collection is an anonymous pamphlet “Shimanov thirsts for justice? He thus reveals his madness”. The form of the pamphlet is that of a qualified doctor’s medical defence of the absurd thesis contained in the title.
4. “On the question of what is to be done”
The article’s anonymous author speaks in the introductory part of the prospects and difficulties of the democratic movement in the USSR.
Victory for the movement is impossible without the support of the masses. Consequently its basic task is the working-out and formulation of its ideas and aims and their dissemination among wide sections of the population. While trying to achieve the clear independence of a democratic system of law from the Party, the authorities, particular classes, etc., the movement must realise that at the lower levels of our society the democratic thesis is not popular, since it represents a threat to socialism, which the masses accept as being, good (the absence of private capital and the allegedly popular nature of state property, the absence of unemployment, the free dispensing of certain benefits, the allegedly complete resolution of the nationalities question, the ideal aim of communism). This sort of socialist attitude of mind should be taken into account, when spreading the cause of democracy.
The author puts forward his own model of how to explain to people the situation of our society and its prospects.
There is a marked lack of correspondence between potential and reality in our society. The reasons are to be found in the way that national character and national traditions have been formed in Russia. For the most part the national character of our people is peasant, and the traditional features of Russian history are the Asiatic mode of production, the alienation of the masses from the state, and feudal imperialism. The reforms of the 1860s were the start of the modern history of Russia; the wars of the beginning of the twentieth century led to the democracy of February , which was, however, unable to withstand the peasant revolution that chose Lenin and brought about the October coup d’état, setting the seal on a new autocracy which culminated in Stalin. In essence our system is “an Asian version of capitalism”, lacking the dynamic component of a competitive market, which alone is capable of getting the economy moving. The post-Stalin leadership makes repeated concessions in this direction. But it is a prisoner of its own autocratic nature since to give freedom to “the capital of the nation” would mean to permit an opposition. The choice however is confined either to democracy or to falling hopelessly behind. In these conditions the democratic movement must make every effort to beware of extremism, so as not to provoke the authorities into choosing the Chinese alternative. The author suggests that the post-Khrushchev leaders are, possibly, experiencing a rebirth of democracy in their affairs, which, conceivably, could spread to the next layers below them in the social hierarchy.
The basic tasks of the democratic movement are:
1. To facilitate the democratization of the country “by helping people to develop democratic and scientific views”.
2. To resist Stalinism.
3. “To take actions of self-defence against repressions.”
4. To wage a struggle against any brand of extremism.
5. To be loyal to the Party-government leadership,
“for its autocratic nature is a reflection of the reactionary views of the majority of the people, and the democratic movement respects all manifestations of the people’s will, even those which are anti-democratic.”
5. “Vote for Stalin!” An article in pamphlet form
As the anonymous author writes, “all this fuss around a corpse which decomposed seventeen years ago” makes it necessary to resolve the question once and for all: is Stalinism, as a system of views, a way of thinking and acting, ac a moral ethical code, to be resurrected or eradicated?
In this connection, the author reminds the Party of how Stalin liquidated both “his own” followers and “ether people’s”, both “the high” and “the low”; the KGB of how Stalin annihilated both initiators and executors; the people about the draconian Stalinist regime both in the villages and in the factories; the array about the military leaders who were shot in 1937; about how the Generalissimo forgave neither victories nor defeats nor being taken prisoner; the intelligentsia of the fate of the creative artists and scholars who were repressed and persecuted under Stalin; and others about Stalin’s chauvinism, anti-Semitism, canting hypocrisy and inhumanity.
6. A. V. Gusev, Leningrad, “A letter to A. N. Kosygin” (dated 6 February 1970)
Alexander Vladimirovich Gusev, who served at the front during the last war and joined the CPSU in 1943, sets out in a letter to A. N. Kosygin the story of his expulsion from the CPSU in December 1968 [see 9.8] , for “disagreement with the decision of the Central Committee on. the Czechoslovak question”. He proves that both the expulsion itself and the ensuing persecution of him in his professional work – “victimisation over trivialities” – contravene Leninist norms of behaviour both within the Party and in life in general.
He views his own case as a particular manifestation of the autocratic Stalinist tradition which has survived and is still active to this day, despite the teachings of Lenin and the decisions of the Party. He sees the root of the troubles in the discrepancy between ends and means and, whilst undoubtedly sharing the ends of the Party, points, on the other hand, to the Arakcheyev methods , the bureaucratism, the increase in centralism, the general tightening-up process, the weakening of the link between the leaders and the mass of the people. He considers the showy pomp involved in the preparations for Lenin’s centenary an insult to his memory. The best gift for V. I. Lenin would definitely be “the restoration and further development of communist standards of behaviour, and the achievement of full correspondence between word and action.”
7. A.S. Bogdanovsky, Kharkov (13 March 1970)
It is apparent from this letter that it is addressed to the highest judicial authorities. It tells the story of A. B. Bogdanovsky’s vain attempt to leave the country and join his relations in Israel. Having received permission on 12 September  to leave, Bogdanovsky had gone through all the formalities and had made preparations for his departure, when the authorities suddenly refused to grant him a visa. The reason for refusing was a complaint made by Bogdanovsky about all the red tape and highhandedness in the Soviet Ministry of Culture, where the question was decided of taking books published before 1946 out of the country. Four months subsequently spent tramping round the departments and submitting complaints and pleas produced no positive results. Bogdanovsky presents detailed arguments to show how on the one hand he observed, the law meticulously and how on the other officials on various levels to which he had recourse were constantly breaking it, and he asks that bounds be set to this “flagrant disregard of the law.”
8. Statement by 40 Soviet Jews
This was sent with an accompanying letter to comrade Zamyatin, head of the press department of the Soviet Ministry of Foreign Affairs, in answer to the anti-Israel press conference of 4 March 1970. The statement and letter are dated 8 March 1970. The letter contains a request to publicise the statement which sets out the position of many thousands of Soviet Jews who are vainly trying to get permission to travel to Israel, i.e. a position quite at odds with the spirit of the aforementioned press conference. The authors affirm that their Statement reflects the mood of not less than 240,000 Soviet Jews. The statement censures propaganda against Israel in the USSR; “the reactionary imperialist essence of Israel” is declared to be a myth, as is the aspiration ascribed to Israel to gather together on her territory all the Jews of the world. The fact that internationalism is typical of the Jewish national character is underscored, but at the same time it is emphasised that to preserve one’s national identity is the natural right of every Jew and in no way conflicts with the accepted standards of either Soviet or international law. On the contrary, this natural right is abused by the policy against repatriation which is being conducted in the USSR, lie authors recognize every Jew’s right to “assimilation in any degree”, but also insist on the right to choose one’s citizenship and one’s country of residence: these rights should be respected and afforded to those who do not wish to be assimilated. The authors express their certainty that the campaign against Israel will not force Soviet Jews to renounce their nationality but will merely strengthen their pride in their people.
Letters of a similar content were sent by inhabitants of the cities of Riga and Leningrad to the relevant Soviet bodies.
9. “An open letter to L. Berenstein and M. Fridel, the authors of ‘Whose tune are the Zionists dancing to?’ (Izvestiya, 14 December 1969), signed by six people
The letter attacks the aforementioned article and a series of similar articles written by Soviet Jews in support of the campaign against Israel. The authors censure the substitution of the “Jewish problem” for the problem of the class struggle and the political problem. They affirm that the Jewish nation has its history, its traditions, its language and culture, and finally, after struggling for centuries, its own state; all of which means that the desire to dwell in the land of one’s forefathers is a legitimate desire. This is not “treachery” or “treason”, as Berenstein and Fridel and others write in their articles. To all such, the authors of the letter deny the right to speak in the name of the Jews, since they are people who have become assimilated and have lost touch with the spirit, language and identity of the Jewish nation.
10. A. Amalrik, “The foreign correspondents in Moscow”
This article describes in detail the legal situation of the foreign correspondents in Moscow, their “work atmosphere”, and their psychological reaction to the difficulties and inconveniences of their professional activity.
Although the framework of general legislation in the USSR provides a sufficient degree of independence for the foreign correspondents, the absence of a special law concerning their rights and responsibilities on the one hand, and the strict surveillance of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs press department and the KGB on the other, in practice put the correspondents in the position of people who are thoroughly isolated from the life of Soviet society. To a considerable extent this deprives their work itself of its purpose. The system of surveillance, of official and unofficial warnings, the threat of expulsion from the USSR, the never-ending obstacles to contacts with Soviet citizens, the blackmail and so on, – .all this creates an atmosphere of fear and uncertainty, gives rise to “spy-mania”, and thus has an adverse effect on the quality and range of information which the correspondents send out of the country. The author considers that the sum total of all this information is extremely inadequate and is too scanty to give the western reader a picture of the real state of affairs in the USSR.
In making a choice between the alternatives – either to adapt to the existing conditions (thereby giving further encouragement to the highhandedness of the authorities) or to demand their professional rights – the majority of the foreign correspondents, in the author’s view, choose-the. .path of adaptation. The reasons for this are career interests and the lack of solidarity among the correspondents. The result is that the tendency to adapt, which is fostered by the Soviet authorities, can and does lead them to distortion, sometimes indeed to clear violations of their professional duty.
The author illustrates his conclusions with numerous examples.
11. T. Franko and M. Lysenko (Kiev), Letter to the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of the Ukraine
Taras Franko, a Party member and Master of philological sciences, and a biologist, Maria Lysenko, appeal to the Presidium of the Ukrainian Supreme Soviet to restore, in honour of the Lenin centenary, the autonomy of the Crimean Tatars, established by Lenin’s decree of 1921 and abolished by Stalin in 1944. The writers point out that since the rehabilitation of the Crimean Tatars in 1967 their return to the Crimea has been progressing “very slowly”, primarily in an unorganized way and only “within the framework of hiring labour [orgnabor]”; and that there is not a single state body in charge of their return. On the other hand the Crimea is extremely short of labour and the long-term plan envisages the immigration to the area of 500,000 people (this is exactly the present size of the Crimean Tatar people). The authors give the 1959 census returns for the Crimea and conclude that if the Tatars returned to the Crimea they would, in contrast to pre-war times, form a minority of the population (according to the data provided about 1,000,000 Russians, 250,000 Ukrainians and 50,000 Belorussians and Jews are now living in the Crimea). The writers consider that the Ukrainian Supreme Soviet could take the initiative in restoring the Crimean Tatar Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic, as the Crimea lies within the jurisdiction of the Ukraine, and that an initiative of this sort “would have a not unimportant international significance.”
12. A Collection of Selected Samizdat Texts on Social Problems, No. 3. January-February 1970, Compiled by V. N. Chalidze
This issue contains:
(a) A. Volpin, “On the optional protocol to the Pact on Civil and Political Rights.”
A discussion of the right of petition. Criticism of the position of the Soviet Union, which does not acknowledge the right of private persons to lodge a complaint against the State. “Can leading states conclude a pact on the defence of human rights and simultaneously refuse to hear claims of people concerning infringements of their rights by these same states?” The Soviet Union is called upon to adhere to the Pact and the Protocol within the shortest possible time.
(b) Three Czech documents, January-August 1968
- An extract from the action programme of the Czechoslovak communist Party approved at the plenary session of its Central Committee on 5 April 1968. The functions of all public and state organs must be clearly defined. Genuine freedom of organization, assembly and speech. Freedom of movement and travel abroad. Reorganization of state security so that every citizen will be sure his political convictions and views … cannot become a subject for the attention of the security organs.
- An extract from the draft of the Statutes of the Czechoslovak Communist Party. A minority is guaranteed the right to/ enter into the record its point of view and retain its opinion while submitting to the will of the majority.
- The treaty of friendship, cooperation and mutual assistance between Czechoslovakia and Romania, published on 19 August 1968, which was to be ratified in the “immediate future”.
(c) The aide-memoire of an international conference on the repatriation of Soviet Jews (the Soviet present is compared to the Soviet past).
- In the report of the Presidium of the Soviets’ Central Executive Committee of 29 August 1929 Birobidzhan was discussed in connection with the “national Jewish state network”. The experiment [the aide-memoire says] has not been successful, as “Birobidzhan did not find a response in the Jewish soul.”
- After the Second World War the USSR cooperated in the voluntary repatriation of many thousands of Spanish, Polish, Hungarian and Rumanian citizens. The appeals of the USSR to Armenians who were living in a diaspora to return to Armenia allow one to speak of a sort of “Armenian Zionism”, the main justifications of which are the impermissibility of assimilation, and the attraction of one’s native soil.
- Extract from Gromyko’s speech at the UN General Assembly, 14 May 1947.
- Survey of the sad changes in the life of Soviet Jews, 1948-1968.
(d) The church in the modern world
The thirteenth constitution of the Second Ecumenical Council (extracts).
Summary: all forms of political regime which hinder the civil and religious freedom of the personality should be condemned. For a genuinely humane political life there should be developed: an inner feeling of justice and love, service to the common good, and an understanding of the purposes of state power, the methods of its legal execution, and the limits to its jurisdiction.
12a. The healthy Soviet collective condemns renegades
A collection of well-known samizdat records of meetings to condemn the “signers of petitions” [CCE 11.11] , V. Gerlin, R. Berg, A. Sokirko, S. Karasik, A. Levin, A. Kalinovsky, L. Kornilov, V. Ponomaryov, and G. Altunyan (some of whom have already been arrested and sentenced).
13. Collection of Selected Samizdat Texts, No. 4, March-April 1970
(a) G. Pomerants. “Son of the earth”, part one – “The spiritual kernel”.
Random reflections about the fundamental bases [sic] of the common human spirit, about the characteristic aspects of the Russian national spirit, how they have been formed and found expression in history and art.
(b) Kritton G. Tornoritie (?)*. Extract from the article “The right of petition to the authorities” (from the magazine Human Rights [? Les Droits de I’Homme], vol. 1, No. 4, 1968, Paris). Historically the right to submit petitions (including group petitions) goes back to the Magna Carta and since then has been a universally accepted right, written into the constitutions of many countries in Europe, Asia and America. [* It has not been possible to check this item.]
(c) Convention of 1967 forbidding Forced Labour (passed at the fortieth session of the General Conference of the International Labour Organization).
Forced labour must not be applied as a means of political correction or education or of any sort of discrimination, or as a means of labour mobilization or of improving labour discipline. It is not known whether the Soviet Union has ratified this convention.
14. Declaration on religious freedom
(Proclamation of the Second Vatican Council in 1965), maintaining that the right of each person to search for religious truth is a right [which should be] free from the encroachments “both of individual persons and of public groups and any [other] form of human authority”. In the light of this the problems of religious freedom in the family and state, and the place of the church in society, are examined.
15. A. Volpin, “On the Schaffhauser case”. From the minutes of an interrogation in 1967
An analysis of the limits to the witness’s right to refuse to give evidence at a [pre-trial] investigation.
16. A. Volpin, Duty or obligation?
An analysis of Article 13 of the 1968 “Fundamentals of Legislation of the USSR and the Union Republics on Marriage and the Family”, and especially of the thesis that “Parents must bring up their children in the spirit of the moral code of the builder of communism”. Proof is adduced to show that the term “must” cannot mean “are obliged to”, for otherwise a contradiction with the law and policy of the USSR would arise.
17. Ukraine Herald, (Vestnik Ukrainy), No. 1, January 1970
The collection is compiled on the model of the Moscow Chronicle. The basic task of the Herald is formulated in the preface and it is pointed out that the Messenger is not the organ of any sort of organization or group.
Herald includes numerous facts about, the infringement of general democratic and national rights in the Ukraine during 1968 and there are lengthy quotations from a variety of documents.
18. P. I. Yakir, Letter to the crew of the motor ship lona Yakir and to its Captain (Comrade Yu. S. Zabusov), 8 March 1970
The letter consists of an answer to a letter to P. Yakir from the crew of the motor ship lona Yakir. Feeling personally insulted by the suggestion that he is casting a shadow on the name of his father, P. Yakir categorically rejects the accusations of unobjectivity and antipatriotism. He explains that he is struggling for the sake of the ideals which inspired his father and against attempts to revive Stalinism.
19. R. Lert, “Shtemenko versus Shtemenko”
As a result of an analysis of S. M. Shtemenko’s The General Staff during the [Second World] War the author of this critical essay, R. Lert, a Party member since 1926, comes to the following conclusions:
(1) In June 1941 our country and the armaments industries were not ready for war.
(2) This was the fault of Stalin.
(3) Stalin was an incompetent and far from brilliant leader.
In R. Lert’s opinion all these conclusions force themselves on the reader of Shtemenko’s book in spite of the wishes of the author. In particular, a propos the destruction of the old defensive lines of fortification before the setting up of new ones R. Lert writes: “It is not necessary to be a military specialist to understand that you don’t throw out an outdated but essential object before you acquire a new and better one. Any housewife could have explained that to Stalin.”
The final conclusion: “The book, which is being praised for rehabilitating Stalin, in fact provides abundant material for his dethronement and unmasking and for the refutation of the legend about Stalin created by falsifiers of history.”
20. Pyotr Dudochkin, “On profundity of thought, persuasiveness and the irrefutability of the word”
(Speech at the discussion of S. M, Shtemenko’s book The General Staff During the War at a conference of readers at the Kalinin Military Science Society, 11 December 1968.)
P. P. Dudochkin, a member of the Union of Writers and of the Party, fought at the front [during the war] and now lives in Kalinin [Tver]. He made a record of his own speech and gave it to those who wished to acquaint themselves with it.
The speech, as written and then read out, begins with a quotation from the works of V. I. Lenin: “We need complete and truthful information, and truth must not be made relative to whom it should serve.” (Complete Works, 5th edition, p. 446, Letter to E. S. Varga.)
Dudochkin stresses that the great demand for [Shtemenko’s] book is not an indicator of its value. “Even if the memoirs of Makhno [anarchist leader in the Ukraine during the Civil War] or General Vlasov, who betrayed his Soviet fatherland [during the Second World War] were published, there would still be a queue of readers [for them], but this is no kind of important indicator at all.”
Dudochkin emphasizes the “brash and opportunistic character of the book”, its “Napoleonic pretentions [zamakh], which are executed at the level of thought of an ordinary clerk”.
The speaker asserted that the books of Marshal Rokossovsky, Meretskov and Krylov are also faulty, but they are more truthful and profound [than Shtemenko’s].
21. Letter of seven citizens of Kharkov to R. A. Rudenko, the Procurator-General
The letter maintains the innocence of those sentenced and shows that people should not be condemned for signing letters addressed to the Soviet public or the UN which contain criticism of internal policy in the USSR, and that if citizens are convinced of the truthfulness of the facts adduced they should not be accused of “deliberate fabrications”.
The letter sketches in detail the atmosphere in which the investigation, trial and extra-judicial actions (see this Chronicle) against the witnesses took place. Facts are enumerated to illustrate the partiality, crude pressure, unobjectivity, anticonstitutionality and arbitrariness of the investigation and judicial procedure. The unjust treatment of suspects during the investigation is pointed out (four were held under arrest while six equally guilty people were allowed to remain free), and it is maintained that it was absurd to base the guilt of an accused on the fact that the Western press had published a letter with his signature and that to send a letter to United Nations does not amount to its “circulation”; mention is made of the indirect pressure on Nedobora on the eve of his arrest and trial. (He was detained on 27 November for 72 hours before being charged, and then released but every two or three days throughout December and January summoned for talks and interrogations; every summons was seen by his family and by the accused as a summons to be followed by arrest and was accompanied by a wait of many hours in waiting-rooms. It should be added that V. N. Nedobora is married with one child, and at the time of the interrogation in court his wife was in her sixth month of pregnancy.)
Of the seven people who signed the letter to the Procurator six had earlier placed their signatures alongside those of G. Altunyan, A. Levin, V. Nedobora and V. Ponomaryov on letters for which these latter were charged.