16.3 In Defence of Andrei Amalrik

 No 16 : 31 October 1970

In Sverdlovsk [Urals District] the investigation into the case of A. Amalrik (see Chronicle 14.1) and L. Ubozhko (see Chronicle 15.10 (4)), accused under Article 190-1 of the Russian Criminal Code, was concluded at the beginning of October.

Amalrik’s wife Gyuzel Makudinova appealed to the public, asking all those “who prize a man’s right to express his views freely and his right to live with his head held high” to intercede on Amalrik’s behalf.

V.N. Chalidze made an “Appeal to the intelligentsia”:

“Thousands of newspapers and propagandists ceaselessly repeat: ‘The Soviet Union is eternal and indissoluble’. And suddenly a thoughtful man asks quietly: Will the Soviet Union survive until 1984?

“It is, of course, an impolite question; but if the reasons why [the USSR] might not survive are discussed, then this impoliteness should be regarded as a friendly service, and the conclusions adduced should be studied for our own benefit. Nothing is easier than to get angry – that depends on the cultural level of the listener. In my view, cultural education is the task precisely of the intelligentsia. In particular this means teaching people (and rulers) not to fear words, but if it becomes necessary to struggle against words, then it should be done by means of words, and not by prison sentences.

“But Amalrik has been arrested and is awaiting trial and sentence. He will not justify himself before the court, will not dispute the charge, will not ask for mercy; he is simply certain of his right to pose and to discuss any questions at all.

“By the nature of his mind and character Andrei Amalrik is neither a politician nor a debater, neither a fighter nor a tribune; by the nature of his mind he is a philosopher, and his publicistic work is thoughtful and philosophical. But his clarity of thought and inner freedom determine his firmness of spirit; and he is prepared to bear his cross, like those best men of Russia who from century to century have suffered for their convictions.

“I call upon you to intercede on his behalf, each as he is able, each as he dares, whether it be publicly or within your own soul. Intercede irrespective of whether you agree with his views.

“Intercede for the word.

25 October 1970″

The trial in Sverdlovsk is expected to take place [Chronicle 17.1] in the second half of November 1970.