14.2 The fate of Pyotr Grigorenko

No 14 : 30 June 1970

On 13 May Academicians M.A. Leontovich and A.D. Sakharov, Master of physico-mathematical sciences V.F. Turchin and physicist V.N. Chalidze lodged a “Complaint concerning supervisory oversight” with USSR Procurator-General Rudenko against the decisions of the Tashkent City Court and the Uzbek Supreme Court (see Chronicle 12.2) in the case of P.G. Grigorenko.

The document refers to “serious procedural violations committed at the stage of preliminary investigation and at the trial”. For example,

1. the preliminary investigation was not conducted at the scene of the activities which serve as the basis of the charge against Grigorenko. The Procuracy of the Uzbek Republic groundlessly justifies this by claiming “that the majority of the witnesses are resident in Tashkent”: in fact of 106 witnesses questioned more than 80 live in Moscow;

2. the unlawful physical coercion and treatment of the accused during preliminary detention which was degrading to human dignity;

3. the violation of the constitutional right to defence, in the form of “constant and sometimes groundless rejection of petitions submitted by the defence lawyer aimed at correcting the procedural omissions during the investigation and in court” (the complaint enumerates instances of violation of the right to defence);

4. the lack of a full and comprehensive investigation of the case in court: the considerable difference between the number of witnesses (106) questioned on the case and (30) summoned to court, of whom only five actually appeared in court; the disproportion in the number of documents considered criminal (300) and those examined by the court (3); the lack of analysis in court of the question of “the subjective aspect of the activities of which P.G. Grigorenko is accused”;

5. the lack of a well-founded decision by the court on whether Grigorenko is of sound mind, and the rejection of the defence’s petitions for the appointment of a third commission “to resolve the contradictions” between the first and second.

The authors of the complaint request that an appeal be lodged against the decision of the Tashkent City Court, that the execution of that decision be suspended and that P.G. Grigorenko be released from custody.

On 8 May Kh. Gumirov wrote to Podgorny requesting an amnesty for political prisoners, and in the first instance for P.G. Grigorenko, on the eve of Victory Day and of the elections. In the opinion of the writer of the letter, this is essential for the observation of legality, the strengthening of socialist democracy and for “definitive destalinisation in our country”.

Since June P.G. Grigorenko has been hold in the Special Psychiatric Hospital in Chernyakhovsk (see Chronicle Issues 8.7 and 11.2 on the Special Psychiatric Hospitals).

At the beginning of June P.G. Grigorenko was visited in hospital by two men in plain clothes who, without giving their names, suggested that he should renounce his beliefs. P.G. Grigorenko refused to talk to them. After this he was attached for the exercise period to a group of aggressively-inclined inmates.

On 15 June he was visited by his wife. She was kept waiting for eight hours. Representatives of the hospital administration were present at their meeting.

Most of the inmates of this Special (i.e. prison) Hospital are really mentally ill and have been convicted for rape and murder.

The hospital ward is a cell of six square metres. It contains two people: Pyotr Grigorevich and his cell-mate, who stabbed his wife to death and is in a constant state of delirium. There is room to take only two steps – one can merely get up and get dressed. There are about two hours’ exercise a day, the rest of the time being spent in the locked cell.

Pyotr Grigorevich has been deprived of paper and pencil.

His enforced immobility, the acute pains in his wounded leg, the ceaseless effect on his mind of a gravely-ill mental patient – all this gives cause for serious concern for the life of 62-year-old P.G. Grigorenko.

His address: Kaliningrad Region [Northwest Russia], Chernyakhovsk, institution 216/st-2.//