42.10 The Helsinki Monitoring Group

No 42 : 8 October 1976

The Group to Assist the Implementation of the Helsinki Agreements in the USSR, founded in May 1976 (CCE 40.13, 41.8), has made public its Document No. 6, “On the situation of former political prisoners in the USSR” (dated 1 August 1976), and has sent it to the heads of the governments which signed the Final Act of the Helsinki Conference.

This document describes how the punishment of political prisoners is not limited to their sentence. On the basis of unpublished points in the decree “On certain rules for the registration of citizens” (CCE 34), they are not registered at their former place of residence after their release — see the letter and declaration of Nadezhda Svetlichnaya (42.11, item 7 & 8).

In addition, former political prisoners are often placed under administrative surveillance. For example, Ivan Kandyba (CCE 33, 39) was not registered for residence in Lvov, where his aged father lives. He was forced to settle in the village of Pustomyty, 20 km from Lvov, and placed immediately under surveillance: he is forbidden to go outside the village or to leave the house between 11 pm and 7 am. Kandyba writes in a letter:

At one stroke I was deprived of the right to visit my lonely, 75-year-old father, to enjoy the river and the lake, to go for walks in the woods, not to mention going to the seaside, the mountains and so on … It turns out that I have not been set free, just transferred from a strict-regime camp zone to another zone with its own regime.

On 1 October the Group appealed to the USSR Supreme Soviet and the Congress of the USA. In the appeal they suggested

that a permanent commission, consisting of both Soviet and American members, should be set up for on-the-spot examination of information received about psychiatric repression in both countries, taking into account information already available and any received in future.

The appeal states: “Obviously, the Soviet side in such a commission would already be able to make use of the information given in Literaturnaya gazeta”. (This refers, for example, to the article by Iona Andronov, “You criticize? Off to the madhouse with you!” published on 29 September 1976, Chronicle.)

We hope that, in addition, civil rights activists in the USA will try to supply the Commission with more detailed information in future. The American side would already be in possession of the information which comes in constantly from dissenters in the USSR and we are ready to supply additional information, including some that has not been published by anyone because of the difficulty of checking it personally.