63.2 The Trial of Mikhail Yakovlev

No 63 : 31 December 1981

The case of the journal Poiski (Searches), contd. See Chronicles 52-8, 60, 62

On 31 July the Moscow Sokolniki District People’s Court, presided over by V.I. Smolnov, examined the case against Mikhail Yurevich Yakovlev (b. 1949; arrested 28 May – Chronicle 62), who was charged under article 181 of the RSFSR Criminal Code (‘Perjury’). The defence counsel was Lawyer O.N. Efremov (who also defended V. Abramkin – Chronicle 58); there was no prosecutor. In reply to the request of S. Belanovsky (Chronicle 57) that he be called as a witness the Judge said: ‘I already know everything you want to say, so I will not call you’.

According to the judgment, Yakovlev,

“when summoned on 8 October 1980 to the Moscow City Court, situated in Moscow at 43 Kalanchevskaya Street, to testify as a witness in connection with Case No. 28/80 on the charge against Yu. L. Grimm of circulating deliberate fabrications (in fact the trial against Grimm took place at Lyublino and it was Abramkin who was tried on Kalanchevskaya Street, Yakovlev also being summoned there as a witness in connection with that case – Chronicle), gave testimony known to be false. At the pre-trial investigation on 21 November 1979 Yakovlev gave truthful testimony about the circumstances of his becoming acquainted with Abramkin, one of the editors of the journal Searches, to whom he gave his own literary writings for publication in the aforementioned journal; in December 1978 Abramkin gave him the copy of Searches No. 4, which was confiscated at a search of his home on 4 March 1979. However, at the trial on 8 October 1980 Yakovlev denied these facts and circumstances, stating that Abramkin had not given him the journal, and thus distorting vital incriminating evidence against Grimm concerning episodes connected with the composing and circulation of the journal Searches.

The defendant Yakovlev pleaded not guilty and testified that it was not Abramkin who gave him the journal but someone else whom he refused to name. He claimed that although he had signed the records of his interrogation as a witness, he had read them superficially and carelessly. He claimed that his testimony had been incorrectly interpreted. He had not made complaints about the search, as he considered that everything had been done properly. He had told the truth in the Moscow City Court and renounced the evidence given during the investigation. He had not hidden from Procuracy officials, but had considered it essential to finish his work on a novel… The court considers Yakovlev’s version of the facts – that he had read the pre-trial investigation records carelessly, that his testimony was not correctly written down in them, and also that he had not hidden himself from justice officials – untenable…

In order to decide upon a sentence for Yakovlev the court has taken into account the nature and degree of social danger of the actions committed, and data on the character of the defendant: he had not been working and had previously changed Jobs frequently, he had been punished for the consumption of alcoholic drinks (about ten years previously Yakovlev was drinking in a park with fellow-students at the end of term and they were detained by the police – Chronicle), and he did not concern himself with his child’s upbringing and rendered him no material assistance (the accounts department at Yakovlev’s last place of work, in spite of his written request, had forgotten to deduct his alimony – Chronicle). The court considers it essential to pass a sentence of one year’s deprivation of freedom.

The court does not find it possible in Yakovlev’s case to apply article 24-2 of the RSFSR Criminal Code (‘sentence of deprivation of freedom commuted to compulsory labour without imprisonment’ – Chronicle) because of his negative attitude to socially useful labour.”

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In August, following an appeal which left the sentence unchanged, Yakovlev was taken for transit. At the beginning of September he started serving his sentence in Saransk (institution ZhKh-385/12). On 4 December he was released under an amnesty.