15.5 The Case of Levitin-Krasnov

No 15 : 31 August 1970

On 22 August 1970 the Orthodox writer Anatoly Levitin-Krasnov returned to Moscow after being released from custody in Sochi (for details about A. Krasnov see Chronicle 10.4). He had spent eleven months in confinement, having been held in the Armavir prison [North Caucasus] together with criminals. The investigator in the case was Akimova.

A. E. Krasnov was charged under Articles 190-1 and 143 of the Criminal Code (“slander of Soviet reality” and “incitement to violate the laws on the separation of Church and State”). The case of A. E. Levitin-Krasnov was artificially linked with that of M.O. Sevostyanov (Sochi), a search of whose flat had revealed several works by A. E. Levitin.

The investigating bodies had at their disposal an analysis of A. E. Levitin-Krasnov’s works prepared by professional atheists. The commission of “experts” (which included Professor Novikov, head of the Department of Scientific Atheism at Moscow University, and [B. T.] Grigoryan, former deputy editor of the journal Science and Religion) arbitrarily took phrases from Levitin’s works and designated as slander of the Soviet political system such remarks as: “The standard of living in Sweden is high”, “In England the workers do not vote communist” and “A Christian can no more approve of the murder of five innocent children in Yekaterinburg in 1918 [Tsar’s daughters and son] than of ‘Bloody Sunday’ in 1905”. The findings of the analysis were that Levitin was maliciously anti-Soviet and should, like certain sectarians, be in prison.

A. E. Levitin-Krasnov answered all the charges thus: “I plead guilty to nothing. My works contain only the truth, exclusively the truth, nothing but the truth. My arrest simply confirms my claims that lawlessness and tyranny [proizvol] exist in this country. I categorically refuse to give the names of any persons to whom I have given my works to read.”

In the middle of January 1970 the investigation was completed, the Moscow defence lawyer A. L, Zalessky being present at the signing of Article 201 [of the Russian Code of Criminal Procedure]. The case was handed over to the Krasnodar Region Court and the hearing arranged for February. However, the Court refused to accept the case and remitted it for further investigation, on the grounds that the charge of slander against Levitin was too vague and that it was incomprehensible exactly what law had been violated as a result of Levitin’s incitement and by whom. The court also declared that the experts’ analysis had been carried out with violations of legal standards: it was not competent to decide whether Levitin’s works contained slander of the Soviet social system – this was the affair of the investigating bodies and the court.

The Procuracy of the Krasnodar Region submitted a “private protest” to the Russian Supreme Court against the decision of the Region Court, demanding that it should oblige the Krasnodar Region Court to accept Levitin’s case for hearing. In a decision of 9 June 1970 the Russian Supreme Court rejected the protest and confirmed the decision of the Krasnodar Region Court.

On 11 August A. E. Levitin-Krasnov was released from custody, but was informed that the investigation would be continued. Merely the degree of restraint on him had been changed.

In Moscow A. E. Levitin-Krasnov was warmly welcomed by his friends, both believers and non-believers, and he declared to them that he had held true to all his convictions and not changed his ideological position.