18.10 News in Brief

No 18 : 5 March 1971

RSFSR [i.e. Russian Republic]

[1]

PERM [Volga District]. On 24 September 1970 Oleg Ivanovich Vorobyov, born 1939, a worker and former student of the Philology Faculty of Moscow University (see Chronicle 16.10 (6) [and 10.4]) was arrested in Moscow.

Oleg Vorobyov was charged under Article 70 of the Russian Criminal Code, in the same case as Rudolf Vedeneyev (aged 25-30 with a son), a Perm worker, who was arrested in August 1970.

It is known for certain that Vorobyov was charged with possessing the leaflet “A Letter to D. D. Shostakovich”. [1] The investigation was conducted by officials of the Perm Region KGB. The chief investigator was Istomin; witnesses in Moscow were questioned by Gorshkov, an official of the Moscow KGB.

The hearing in the Perm Region Court began on 24 January and lasted until 12 February with an interval of one week (from 2 to 8 February the Court was moving to new premises). Yu. M. Patrakov, chairman of the Regional Court, presided. The prosecutor was Regional Procurator Trapeznikov. The accused Vorobyov and Vedeneyev conducted their own defence, having refused defence counsel.

The sentences were: Oleg Vorobyov – six years, three to be spent in prison and three in strict-regime camps; Rudolf Vedeneyev – three years of strict-regime camps. They declined to appeal.

The case was heard behind closed doors. There were only eight or ten people, including the mothers of the accused, in a court-room which can accommodate several dozen. Vorobyov’s fiancée and a friend of his, who had travelled from Moscow, were not admitted to the court.

[2]

GORKY [Volga District]. On 21 January 1971 the Gorky Region Court, sitting behind closed doors, began to hear the case of Vitaly Vasilevich Pomazov, born 1946, charged under Article 70 of the Russian Criminal Code.

On completing eight years of education V. V. Pomazov studied at the Zavolzhsky Engineering Technical College and during his fourth year passed the school leaving examinations as an external candidate. In 1965 he entered the history department of the History and Philology Faculty of Gorky University. In May 1968 he was expelled for writing a work “The State and democracy” (or “The State and socialism”) and called up into the army (see Chronicle 5.3 nos 128-136 and 6.5). On his return from the army in 1970 he was employed as a time-and-motion engineer at a hardware factory.

Pomazov was arrested on 22 October 1970 (see Chronicle 16.10 (10)). The investigation was led by A. M. Khokhlov (who also conducted the investigation into the case of Pavlenkov and others – see Chronicle 12.4). During the investigation a number of former students at the university who had taken part in the discussion of Pomazov’s work in 1968 were questioned, among them Barbukh, Borisoglebsky and [E.] Kupchinov. Several lecturers at the university were also questioned.

Kharitonov, deputy chairman of the Regional Court, presided over the trial, which was repeatedly adjourned for several days and ended on 2 February. The sole basis for the charge against Pomazov was the preparation and circulation in 1968 of the above-mentioned work: it was not established at the trial that he had circulated it in 1970, and Procurator Kolesnikov asked for this item to be deleted from the indictment.

The sentence was four years of strict-regime corrective-labour camps.

[3]

MOSCOW. On 2 December 1970 the secretariat of the Moscow, writers’ organisation discussed The Life and Extraordinary Adventures of Private Ivan Chonkin, a novella by Vladimir Voinovich. Part I of the story was published abroad in the journal Grani [No. 72, 1969], and Voinovich protested in Literaturnaya gazeta [14 October 1970, p. 9] that this had been done without his knowledge or consent.

Those present at the discussion included G. Beryozko, N. Gribachyov, L. Karelin, S. Narovchatov and V. Rozov. The principal speaker was V. Ilin, secretary for organisational matters. [2] Members of the secretariat had familiarised themselves with the story by reading a manuscript supplied by the author sometime previously to the Union [of Writers].

Those present judged the story to be anti-popular, a lampoon against the hard-working and victorious people.

The secretariat, taking Voinovich’s published protest into account, delivered a severe reprimand to be recorded in his personal file. “If Voinovich,” the resolution reads, “does not heed comradely criticism, he will place himself outside the Union of Writers” (see Information Bulletin of the Secretariat of the Board of the USSR Union of Writers, 1970, No. 12, pp. 21-22).

[4]

D.F. Mikheyev (see Chronicle 16.10 (7)) was arrested on 3 October 1970 while entering an aeroplane bound for Vienna with a Swiss passport belonging to F. de Perregaux. In the early hours of 4 October Karl Joseph Vogelmann, an Austrian citizen, was apprehended near the Metropole restaurant, and admitted helping Mikheyev in his attempt to leave the USSR. Investigations into the Mikheyev case are being conducted by the KGB. Major Fochenkov is in charge.

[5]

The secretary of the Party committee of the Moscow writers’ organisation, I. Vinnichenko, speaking at a Party meeting on 19 January 1971, remarked favourably on the fact that the poet Ye. Yevtushenko, unlike certain stubborn writers, had condemned his own statement on the events in Czechoslovakia. [3]

[6]

The appeal in the case of A. Amalrik and L. Ubozhko (see Chronicle 14.1 [arrest], 15.10 (3 & 4), 16.3, 17.1 [trial]) was heard on 9 February 1971. The Russian Supreme Court left the sentence of the Sverdlovsk Region Court unaltered: A. Amalrik – three years of hard-regime corrective-labour camps; L. Ubozhko – three years of ordinary-regime).

[7]

R. I. Pimenov (see Chronicle 16.2 [trial] and 17.5) has arrived at his place of exile. His address is: Komi ASSR, Krasnozatonsky settlement. He has been refused work in his speciality. B. Vail, who stood trial with him, has been exiled to the small town of Uvat in the Tyumen Region [W. Siberia].

[8]

PUSHCHINO-NA-OKE [Moscow Region]. At the beginning of February 1971 Roman Fin, a biophysicist aged 32, was arrested in Pushchino-na-Oke. According to unconfirmed reports, he was arrested for circulating samizdat.

[9]

NOVOSIBIRSK [central Siberia]. The trial of [I.M.] Miroshnichenko (formerly an official of the MVD, at present a mechanic) and Orlov, an engineer at the Ekran factory, was held here at the end of January 1971. They are Reform Baptists [initsiativniki] (for information on the Evangelical Christian-Baptists see Chronicle 16.6).

The Reform Baptists were deprived of their prayer house in Novosibirsk. They then met for prayer outside the house. The police arrived, and Orlov attempted to photograph the scene of the crowd being dispersed.

Orlov and Miroshnichenko were sentenced to two years of corrective-labour camps on a charge of malicious hooliganism (Article 206, paragraph 2 of the Russian Criminal Code).

UKRAINE

[10]

UZHGOROD [W. Ukraine]. At the time of the elections to the Supreme Soviet at the end of 1970, duplicated leaflets in Ukrainian were circulating here, calling on people to vote not for the official candidate – the second [in fact first] secretary of the regional Party committee [Yu.V.] Ilnitsky – but for the writer Ivan Chendei (at the time chairman of the Trans-Carpathian section of the Ukrainian Union of Writers, author of a number of historical works which have been attacked in the Ukrainian press [4]). It is reported that six people have been arrested in connection with this. Investigations have established that the leaflets were printed on a duplicator located on the premises of the Narodnaya Rada (which accommodates the highest regional authorities). The trial was held last winter. No details are known.
[11]

LVOV. According to unconfirmed reports a youth organization of students from the Polygraphic Institute has been uncovered here, consisting mainly of the children of highly placed people. The statutes of the organization, and the almanac it had issued, are, according to rumours, imbued with ideas of a fascist nature. One of the organization’s leaders, Yaresko, is being held in detention. Many members of the organization are free. An investigation is under way.

LATVIA

[12]

RIGA. On 3 February 1971 Maya Silmale, a translator from French, was arrested in Riga (she was the translator of part of An Anthology of French Poetry, compiled by Georges Pompidou).

In early 1950 M. Silmale was convicted in the case of the so-called “French group” (translations of Andre Gide), and released in 1956.

In 1970 Silmale was called as a witness in the case of L. A. Doronina (see Chronicle 17.12 (5)). On 28 December 1970 the Latvian Supreme Court delivered a separate decision that criminal proceedings should be instituted against Silmale under Article 183-1 of the Latvian Criminal Code (equivalent to Article 190-1 of the Russian Code), as her testimony contradicted that of Doronina.

Immediately after her arrest M. Silmale was placed in the hospital attached to investigation prison No. 1 in Riga (she is seriously ill [5] and is supposed to be confined to bed). In the second half of February she was transferred to section 10 of the republican psychiatric hospital for examination, and remains there to this day.

[13]

In September 1970 Gunar Gailitis, born 1934, was apprehended while attempting to leave the USSR by sea. At present he is in the Latvian KGB investigation prison.

ESTONIA

[14]

TALLINN. Criminal proceedings have been instituted here against Vladimir Eikhvald under the Article equivalent to Article 190-1 of the Russian Criminal Code. Degree of restraint: an undertaking not to leave the city.

V. Eikhvald has written several letters of a critical nature to government bodies and private individuals (including one protesting against Solzhenitsyn’s expulsion from the Union of Writers).

LITHUANIA

[15]

VILNIUS. In December 1970 the investigation into the case of Vitautas Simokaitis (see Chronicle 17.12 (11)), born 1936, formerly administrative director of the “Lietuive” ensemble and later an official in the Ministry of Construction, and his wife Grazina Mickute, born 1949, was concluded in Vilnius. They were arrested in November when they tried to make an aeroplane flying from Palanga to Vilnius change course.

The investigation was conducted by a team of investigators under Colonel Kismen.

The trial, which had been fixed for 28 December, was postponed for several days. The hearing began on 4 January 1971 in the Lithuanian Supreme Court, behind closed doors.

On 14 January Simokaitis was sentenced to be shot and Mickute to three years of imprisonment (the court probably took account of the fact that the accused was pregnant).

The death sentence was later commuted to fifteen years of special-regime corrective-labour camps.

[16]

KLAIPEDA. On 23 November 1970 Simas Kudirka, radio operator on a fishing vessel, attempted to remain on board the “Vigilant”, an American coast-guard launch, in US territorial waters, but was handed over to the Soviet sailors by its captain (see supplement to Chronicle, 17.15, No 71).

On his return to Klaipeda Kudirka was at liberty for a while, but was then arrested and is now in the KGB investigation prison in Vilnius. Searches have been carried out at the homes of some of his relatives and friends. His wife Kudirkiene lives in Klaipeda with their two children.

[17]

On 8 September 1970 a group of 61 priests of the Vilnius archdiocese submitted a petition to the highest Union and Lithuanian bodies requesting the reinstatement of Bishop Steponavicius in his former post of Apostolic Administrator of the Vilnius Archdiocese and of the Pangenesis Diocese. The petition makes it clear that Steponavicius was removed from his post and banished from the diocese “in January 1961 for unknown reasons and without a court sentence”. The petitioners cite cases of priests who even after serving a term of imprisonment have been allowed “to return to their work”, and point out the excessively long period of Steponavicius’s enforced “separation”.

[18]

In January 1969 two Lithuanian priests, [Petras] Dumbliauskas and [Juozas] Zdebskis, sent a complaint to the USSR Council of Ministers about anti-constitutional administrative interference in the affairs of the Kaunas seminary.[6]

In 1940, says the complaint, the Lithuanian Catholic Church had four Seminaries with 466 students, whereas now it has one seminary limited to 30 students. The annual output of five or six priests cannot satisfy the needs of believers, especially since as many as 30 priests die in Lithuania every year. Moreover the method by which candidates are accepted by the Seminary is as follows: “The rector of the Seminary is obliged to send a list of candidates to the commissioner of the Council for Religious Affairs so that the candidate’s loyalty can be established … The commissioner may, without any explanation, cross any candidate off the list, which he frequently does, despite the fact that the candidate in question is a citizen of the Soviet Union, has never been brought to trial and has never spoken against Soviet authority.” The writers of the complaint ask for such arbitrary official behaviour to be curbed and for the limit on students to be removed. They point out that priests of the Telstar and Vilkaviskis dioceses have made similar requests.

FRANCE

[19]

PARIS. On 5 December 1970 a group of members and friends of the French “Society for Aid to Political Prisoners” organised a demonstration outside the Soviet Embassy in Paris. The demonstrators carried two placards: “Respect your own constitution” (in Russian) and “A fountain-pen for General Grigorenko” (in French). At the same time a letter from the “Society for Aid to Political Prisoners”, signed by its chairman Thierry Dubois and addressed to N. Podgorny, Chairman of the USSR Supreme Soviet, was handed in at the Soviet embassy. The letter contained a request to amnesty General Grigorenko, Boris Kochubievsky, Yury Galanskov, Alexander Ginzburg, Natalya Gorbanevskaya, Olga Iofe, Valeria Novodvorskaya, Anatoly Marchenko and other political prisoners. A copy of the letter to N. Podgorny was given to the press. The demonstrators were detained by the French police, but released after an identity check. The Society also reported this incident to the press.

[20]

On 17 February 1971 the newspaper Le Monde published a letter from the eminent French conductor Igor Markevich to E. A. Furtseva, USSR Minister of Culture, which he had been stimulated to write by the obstacles artificially placed in the path of Mstislav Rostropovich’s guest appearances in Paris. The writer of the letter regards this as yet further proof of the systematic violation of creative freedom in the USSR. Markevich discerns the reason for the tour’s delay in Rostropovich’s statement in defence of A. Solzhenitsyn and in the fact that he, Markevich, has helped to popularize the work of Anatoly Zverev, the unofficial Soviet artist, [7] outside the USSR. The letter also expresses regret at the closure of the courses in conducting at the Moscow Conservatoire, which were established by Markevich in collaboration with Soviet colleagues.