14.1 The Arrest of Andrei Amalrik

No 14 : 30 June 1970

Andrei Alekseyevich Amalrik was arrested on 21 May 1970 in the village of Akulovo in the Moscow Region.

At 11 a.m. about twenty agents of the KGB and of the Moscow and Sverdlovsk Procuracies appeared in four cars. Amalrik was shown the charge of circulating “literature containing slanderous fabrications defaming the Soviet political and social system” (article 190-1 of the Russian Criminal Code).

A. Amalrik was born in Moscow in 1938, the son of an eminent historian and archaeologist, now deceased.

For two years he studied at the History Faculty of Moscow University, from which he was expelled for his work on the origin of the Russian state, which was considered not completely Marxist (Amalrik is a supporter of the so-called “Norman theory” about the origin of Kievan Russia).

He has written five plays (“East – West”, “Is Uncle Jack a conformist?”, “My aunt lives in Volokolamsk” et al.), which served as the grounds for imprisoning the author in 1964 on a charge of pornography. The case was discontinued for lack of evidence. Amalrik was released, but the next day a new case was opened against him, and he was exiled by administrative order for two-and-a-half years as a parasite, although he was engaged in free-lance work. The Russian Supreme Court later quashed the sentence, and after eighteen months’ exile Amalrik was returned to Moscow. This period of exile provided him with material for his book Involuntary journey to Siberia, which has now been published in a number of Western countries.

Amalrik became widely-known because of his work Will the Soviet Union survive until 1984?, which has been translated into many languages (see Chronicle 12.10 [item 8]).

During the last months before his arrest Amalrik wrote “An open letter to Anatoly Kuznetsov” (see Chronicle 11.14 [item 1]), an article on foreign correspondents in Moscow (see Chronicle 13.9 [item 10]) and a letter to the journal Der Spiegel, “Why I am not an agent of the KGB”.

On 26 May, five days after his arrest, Amalrik was taken to Sverdlovsk, probably in order to avoid the publicity of a trial in Moscow.

At present Amalrik is in an investigation prison. His case is being handled by I. A. Kirinkin, an investigator of the Sverdlovsk City Procuracy.

On 12 June Amalrik’s wife Gyuzel Makudinova made two applications to the Procuracy of the USSR. In the first, addressed to Procurator-General Rudenko, she requests that the investigation of the case against her husband be handed over to the Moscow City Procuracy, inasmuch as Amalrik has never been to Sverdlovsk and therefore could not have committed any crime there, moreover he knows nobody there and therefore the majority of witnesses in his case cannot be resident in that city (Article 132 of the Russian Code of Criminal Procedure). In her second application, a complaint addressed to Deputy Procurator-General Malyarov, G. Makudinova refers to the intolerably crude methods of interrogation employed by investigator Kirinkin. He threatened her that if she, the witness Makudinova, “refused to give specific answers to his questions”, he would deprive her husband of parcels and initiate criminal proceedings against her under Article 190-1 of the Russian Criminal Code.

On 22 May A. Esenin-Volpin, V. Bukovsky, G. Podyapolsky, P. Yakir, Yu. Vishnevskaya, V. Lapin and I. Belogorodskaya addressed an appeal to the government of the Soviet Union and to the United Nations calling for freedom for Andrei Amalrik. They were indignant at Amalrik’s arrest, “since it cannot be assumed that it was caused by any other reason than his writing the pamphlet Will the Soviet Union survive until 1984?; and they argue that “on a just and thorough examination of his case Amalrik must be acquitted by any court.”

At the end of June the newspaper Le Monde published the following report:

“French historians are disturbed by the fate of Andrei Amalrik, Soviet historian, author of the book Will the Soviet Union survive until 1984?

“Sixty-four French historians have addressed the following letter to the president of the USSR Academy of Sciences, Keldysh:

‘We have learned with great concern of the arrest of our young colleague; the work which he has published in the West proves incontrovertibly, in our opinion, that Amalrik is first and foremost a historian.

‘Despite the objections and amendments which this work will no doubt provoke, its strength, originality and subtlety show that we are dealing with a mind of great power.

‘We presume that you, as a colleague of Andrei Amalrik, will demonstrate your concern by ensuring that legality is observed in the judicial proceedings which have been initiated against Amalrik. We should value most highly any communication you might be kind enough to send us on this subject.

‘It is obvious that preparations for the 23rd international congress of representatives of historical research, which is to take place this summer and which is to be attended by the world’s best historians, are hardly compatible with the fact that a Soviet historian is being subjected to persecution for the results of his conscientious research.’”

The signatories include: Jean-Paul Aron, Alexandre Bennigsen, Francois Crouzet, Georges Friedmann, Georges Luciani, Robert Mandrou, Henri-Irénée Marrou, Pierre Nora, Pierre Sorlin, Jean-Pierre Vernant, Pierre Vidal-Naquet, and Hélène Zamoyska.