17.5 Public Statements Regarding the Trial of Pimenov, Vail and Zinovieva

No 17 : 31 December 1970

As soon as it became known that the pre-trial investigation into the case of Pimenov et al. had been concluded (see Chronicle 16.2), Yevgeny Smirnov’s pamphlet “Bravo, Comrade Tolstikov!” appeared in samizdat [1]. It names the documents mentioned in the charge against Pimenov, which includes “2000 words” [2]. In connection with this item in the charge V. N. Chalidze sent a statement to the Leningrad City Procurator informing him that the document “2000 words” had been distributed by TASS and by Soyuzpechat [the official Soviet distribution agency]. That the pre-trial investigation had overlooked this circumstance was highly negligent.

On 4 October 1970 a group of scientists (A. D. Sakharov, V. F. Turchin, V. N. Chalidze and others) sent to the Kaluga Region Court a statement of their intention to be present at the trial (see Chronicle 16.2).

At the first session of the Kaluga Region Court on 14 October the principle of legal proceedings being held in public was in effect violated, to which the defence made no objection. In connection with this Chalidze wrote an Open Letter to Pimenov’s defence counsel S. A. Kheifits on 17 October. He pointed out that it was a procedural right of the defendant to have legal proceedings held in public, and that the obligations of his defence counsel included the defence of that right.

After the sentence of exile on Vail and Pimenov, Chalidze sent a complaint to the Russian Supreme Court that the Kaluga Region Court had violated Article 319 of the Russian Code of Criminal Procedure, in that Pimenov had not been released from custody and Vail had been taken into custody in the court-room.

At the beginning of November ten scientists (M. A. Leontovich, A. D. Sakharov, V. F. Turchin, A. N. Tvyordokhlebov, V. N. Chalidze and others) expressed in a letter to the Russian Supreme Court their “concern at the severity of the sentence and at the very fact of judicial prosecution for actions which in a democratic society ought to be regarded as a normal phenomenon of civic life.” [3]