19.11 News in Brief

No 19 : 30 April 1971

[MOSCOW]

1.

On 16 March the American embassy in Moscow protested strongly to the Soviet government after the police had seized the family of a Soviet doctor when they were already on the territory of the embassy.

A representative of the embassy stated that the incident had developed into a brawl between police and embassy officials, and that it was a “violation of the immunity of the embassy’s territory”. [1]

Vasily Nikitenkov, a 43-year-old doctor from Klin [//Moscow Region], had tried to enter the American embassy with his wife and two daughters aged five and nine to obtain information on the procedure for immigration into the USA. Nikitenkov’s wife and little girls were stopped by policemen, but he himself managed to beat off the attack by the police with the help of embassy officials. He told embassy officials that he wished to emigrate to the USA, because he was dissatisfied with life in the Soviet Union. The procedure for immigration was explained to him, and he was given a written invitation to visit the embassy again if he wished. Nikitenkov stayed in the embassy for more than four hours, leaving only when the official [American] protest had been made concerning him.

At present Nikitenkov and his wife have been placed in the Moscow Region Psychiatric Hospital (8 Marta Street). [See his statementSee his statement, CCE 20.12, Samizdat update, item 7]

2.

When Vladimir Gershovich [see CCE 5.3, No 152], arrived at the Dutch embassy on 15 March 1971 at the invitation of a secretary to collect documents in his name, he was not allowed into the embassy by the police. The following day Gershovich and his wife were detained by policemen at the entrance to the embassy and taken to the police station No 83, at the same time being insulted, threatened and accused of “resisting the authorities”. Gershovich sent protests to OVIR, the Moscow City Chief of Police, and Procurator-General Rudenko, with a copy to the 24th Party Congress.

3.

On 7 April M. Slepak sent a protest to the USSR Committee for State Security [KGB] about an illegal search of her flat which had been carried out in her absence.

That morning she had been asked to come to work earlier than usual; when she refused, Akulova telephoned her ten minutes later from OVIR, where she had submitted documents for emigration to Israel, and asked her to attend for an interview. During the afternoon there was no-one at home. M. Slepak’s eleven-year-old son, who happened to come home from school during his break, was detained by a policeman at the entrance and taken to the police station. The boy was kept there more than an hour, questioned and made to sign a record which he had not read.

Next day G. S. Prokopenko, deputy police chief of the 108th division, in reply to M. Slepak’s demands for an explanation of the illegal actions of the police, said that the present shift knew nothing of what had happened while the previous shift had been on duty.

4.

On 4 March 1971 Veniamin Kozharinov was detained in Moscow. On the following day a search of his flat was carried out. Samizdat materials were confiscated. V. Kozharinov was charged under Article 190-1 of the Russian Criminal Code. The degree of restraint was a signed undertaking not to leave the city. The investigation is being conducted by Bardin, an investigator of the Moscow Regional KGB.

5.

While being transferred from Kamyshlov Prison (Sverdlovsk Region) Andrei Amalrik (for his trial see CCE 17.1) was taken ill with suppurative meningitis and placed in the Novosibirsk prison hospital. He was unconscious for ten days.

In mid-April Amalrik’s wife Gyuzel Makudinova travelled to Novosibirsk, but was not allowed to see her husband. She wrote to the Presidium of the USSR Supreme Soviet and to the Medical Directorate of the Ministry of Internal Affairs, asking them either to register her husband as an invalid or to pardon him. This letter has not yet been answered.

At the end of April a medical commission at Novosibirsk hospital pronounced A. Amalrik an invalid of the second category for a year. He will soon be sent to a prison medical unit, and on completion of his treatment to a camp.

6.

On 27 March Julia Vishnevskaya (CCE 15.1, 16.10, 17.12) was forcibly confined to the Kashchenko [Psychiatric] Hospital. She was taken to police station No. 40 by police car, and from there to the hospital. Her relatives were not informed of the grounds for placing her in the hospital. At the hospital J. Vishnevskaya refused to take the medicines she was given, after which she was given injections forcibly for a week.

In the words of the doctors Vishnevskaya is “on the strict regime”, and is therefore allowed visits only from relatives.

7.

VILNIUS. Vytautas Simokaitis, sentenced by the Lithuanian Supreme Court on 14 January 1971 was to be shot for attempting to make an aeroplane change course (CCE 18.10, No 15), is still being held in the death cell of “Lukiski” Prison. Rumours that the death sentence has been commuted to fifteen years of special-regime corrective-labour camps are premature. It is now definitely known that when the foreign radio stations broadcast the news that V. Simokaitis had been pardoned, his case had not yet been reconsidered. The papers in the case were asked for by the USSR Procuracy in Moscow only in March 1971.

Simokaitis’s wife Grazina Mickute, who was sentenced to three years’ imprisonment, is being held in prison at Panevezys, together with criminal convicts.

It is worthy of note that most persons convicted in political cases in Lithuania recently are not being .sent to Dubrovlag, but are being held in prisons and camps in Lithuania (with criminals). [2]

8.

KLAIPEDA. The case of Simas Kudirka, the trawler radio operator who in November 1970 attempted to remain on board an American cutter and was handed over to Soviet sailors by its captain (CCE 17.15, No 71; CCE 18.10, item 16), will be considered by the Lithuanian Supreme Court on 5 May 1971.

S. Kudirka has told Colonel Kislin, who is in charge of the investigation, that he will not give evidence in court, that he will refuse a defence counsel and will make only one demand—that he should be allowed to emigrate, in accordance with the right proclaimed by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. [For Kudirka‘s trial, see CCE 20.6]

9.

VILNIUS. Algis Statkevicius, who was judged to be of unsound mind by a court in 1970 (CCE 17.12, item 2), is in the “Lukiski” Prison at Vilnius. He is confined together with criminals and is forbidden to read or write. Before 1956 A. Statkevicius served about nine years in various camps. On his release he graduated from the Medical Faculty of Vilnius University and worked as a sociologist in the Lithuanian Ministry of Social Welfare. He has written four books; it is known that they are devoted to a critique of the existing social system and to an analysis of the situation in Lithuania.

10.

During early April the film producer Mikhail Kalik and the film dramatist Yefim Sevella learned that they had been expelled from the USSR Union of Cinematographists in December 1970. Contrary to the constitution of the Union the expulsions had been carried out in their absence and retrospectively. The reason for the expulsions is clearly the desire of M. Kalik and E. Sevella to emigrate to Israel. [Soon afterwards Sevella was allowed to do so.]

11.

RIGA. On 17 April the case against Maya Silmale [3], charged under Article 183-1 of the Latvian Criminal Code (equivalent to Article 190-1 of the Russian Code), was discontinued (CCE 17.12, item 5; CCE 18.10, item 12). A few days after her release M. Silmale was admitted to the Riga Oncological Clinic. [For official statement on her release, see CCE 20.14 addendum].

12.

SOCHI. On 29 March Valeria Volzhskaya, an Intourist inspector aged 23, was arrested in Sochi. During a search Solzhenitsyn’s The First Circle, Marchenko’s My Testimony and poems by Daniel were confiscated. She was charged under Article 190-1 of the Russian Criminal Code (at first under Article 70).

At the same time a search was carried out at the home of Anatoly Rumyantsev, aged 33. The search was fruitless. Nevertheless Rumyantsev was arrested on 9 April. Anatoly’s elder brother, Valery Rumyantsev, an officer who was arrested in 1958 and convicted by court-martial in 1959, is at present serving a fifteen-year term in Dubrovlag Camp No. 19 (sentence expires in 1973). The Rumyantsevs’ mother, who is blind, lives in Sochi.

In mid-April L[arissa] Bogoraz [wife of Yuly Daniel] was questioned about the case of A. Rumyantsev in the settlement of Chuna in the Irkutsk Region.

13.

SVERDLOVSK [Urals District], On 19 March 1971 Valery Kukui, an engineer born in 1939, was arrested. V. Kukui had submitted documents for emigration to Israel, and had signed a letter from residents of Sverdlovsk on the subject of the Leningrad trial of the “aeroplane people”. During a search letters from abroad and samizdat materials, including [the story] The Heart of a Dog by M. Bulgakov [4], were confiscated. A charge has been brought under Article 190-1 of the Russian Criminal Code.

14.

MOSCOW. In December 1970 Islam Karymov, aged 24, was arrested for taking part in the national movement of the Meskhetians (CCE 9.7; see the present issue, 19.6 [where his surname is spelled Kerimov]). During the investigation Karymov was required to sign some papers, which he refused to do. After a suicide attempt he was sent to the Sklifosovsky Institute.

I. Karymov was released thanks to the intervention of the Turkish embassy.

15.

MORDOVIA. On December 30 Anton Nazarovich Nakashidze [5] was released from Dubrovlag Camp No. 3 after ten years’ imprisonment.

During a tour of England in the 1950s (Nakashidze is a dancer) he applied for political asylum; in I960 he requested and was granted permission to return; a few months after his return he was arrested and convicted of betrayal of the fatherland.

16.

MORDOVIA. Halyna Tomovna Didyk (b. 1912), who was serving a 25-year sentence (see “Inmates of the women’s political camp”, CCE 15.8), has been released from the women’s political camp (ZhKh 385/3).

She was a messenger of the Ukrainian Red Cross in the Ternopol Region and later a messenger of the Central Committee of the OUN [Organisation of Ukrainian Nationalists]. She was arrested on 5 March 1950 and sentenced to 25 years in prison. She was held in Vladimir Prison, then transferred in 1969 to the Mordovian camps.

On 24 March 1971, by decision of the Mordovian Supreme Court in response to a petition by the camp administration, Didyk’s sentence was reduced to the term she had already served. In all she spent 21 years in confinement, nineteen of them in prison.

On being released Didyk went to Karaganda—she is banned from residing in the Ukraine.

The only women members of the OUN movement remaining in Mordovia are therefore: Kateryna Zarytska, (b. 1913) arrested in October 1947, sentence 25 years; Dariya Husyak (b. 1924), arrested on 5 March 1950, sentence 25 years; and Maria Palchak, arrested in 1961; death sentenced commuted to fifteen years’ imprisonment.

17.

MORDOVIA. In March several prisoners were transferred from Mordovian Camp No. 19 to Vladimir Prison. They included Valery Vudka (CCE 18.4). The names of the others and the reasons for the transfer are not known.

18.

MOSCOW. On 14 March Vladimir Gusarov (for his “Message on Liberty”, CCE 17.13, item 17) was placed in the Kashchenko Psychiatric Hospital. On 30 April a medical commission certified Gusarov as an invalid of the second category.

19.

SARATOV [Volga District]. On March 17 officials of the KGB called on Nina Kalustovna Kakhtsadzova, a doctor and radiologist, at her place of work and took her away for questioning. While being questioned she fainted twice.

A search of her home resulted in the confiscation of samizdat materials and of leaflets which were once distributed by foreigners in GUM [a large department store on Red Square]. On the same day several of her friends were summoned to the KGB for questioning. On the morning of 18 March N. K. Kakhtsadzova hanged herself.

20.

ALMA-ATA [Kazakh Republic], On February 16 Yefim Iosifovich Landau, a literature specialist aged 54, committed suicide. A few days before E. I. Landau’s suicide a search of his home had been carried out, and he had subsequently been summoned for questioning by the KGB.

21.

ROSTOV. On 29 March 1971 criminal proceedings were instituted in //Rostov against Lazar Moiseyevich Lyubarsky under Article 190-1 of the Russian Criminal Code. The grounds for the charge were the fact that he had signed letters to various bodies, and that certain Jewish books and tape-recordings of Jewish songs were discovered during the search.

22.

SVERDLOVSK. Criminal proceedings have been instituted against Boris Rabinovich, aged 28, who is charged with Zionist propaganda and agitation. The charge is based on the testimony of witnesses.

After submitting an application to emigrate to Israel Rabinovich was expelled from graduate school. Two fruitless searches of his flat have been carried out during the last two months, the first in connection with the case of Ruta Alexandrovich, the second with that of Valery Kukui.

Boris Rabinovich signed letters of protest against the death sentences passed on those convicted in the Leningrad case of the “aeroplane people”.

23.

MOSCOW. In mid-April the Russian Supreme Court heard the appeal in the case of Vitaly Pomazov of Gorky (CCE 16.10, item 10; CCE 18.10, item 2). Defence counsel was Polyak. The court changed the indictment from Article 70 of the Russian Criminal Code to Article 190-1, and reduced the sentence from four years of corrective-labour camps to 18 months.

24.

In April the Russian Supreme Court heard the appeal in the case of Victor Vasilyevich Kuznetsov, who is undergoing compulsory treatment in the Special [Psychiatric] Hospital in Kazan [Volga District] (CCE 9.3 and 18.1, item 7). The verdict of the lower court—to extend Kuznetsov’s term in the special hospital—was left unaltered.

25.

[Moscow]. On March 29 a search of the home of V. N. Chalidze was carried out by officials of the KGB.

The following items were confiscated: the UN Convention on Human Rights, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the archive of the Committee for Human Rights, translations of articles by Rene Cassin from the International Journal of Human Rights and issues of Social Problems, the [samizdat] journal produced by Chalidze.

It later became clear that the search had been carried out in connection with the arrest in Moscow of two Belgian citizens—Hugo Sebreghts and Jomie Hemschoote.

On the instructions of the Flemish Committee for the Defence of Human Rights Sebreghts visited Chalidze on 26 and 28 March to ask him a number of questions about the activities of the Soviet Committee for Human Rights, of which Chalidze is a representative. Sebreghts wanted to know whether the Committee was legal, whether contacts with other Committees were being made, what the Committee’s objectives were and what the authorities thought of it. In reply Chalidze explained to him the Committee’s legal status, quoted its Statutes, and also stated that in accordance with Article 5 of the Principles of the Committee, its members were prepared to maintain contacts only with organisations not aiming to inflict harm on the Soviet Union.

Sebreghts was charged under Article 70 of the Russian Criminal Code. The investigation was conducted by Major Sevastyanov.

On April 3 the Flemish Committee appealed to Kosygin, Chairman of the USSR Council of Ministers, to give instructions for the release of the Flemings: “They have committed no crimes from the point of view of Soviet laws, nor from that of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. These young Flemings came to your country as peaceful tourists, to become more closely acquainted with the country and the people”.

On April 19 Izvestia published K. Bryantsev’s article “Under the mask of falsehood”, which made it clear that the case of Sebreghts and Hemschoote had been discontinued, and they themselves deported from the USSR.

NOTES

[1]. The events involving the Nikitenko family were reported in many Western papers, e.g. The Daily Telegraph, 17 March 1971.

[2] It had become the normal rule in the 1960s for all persons sentenced under serious political crimes i.e. Articles 64-88) to be sent either to Dubrovlag in Mordovia or to Vladimir Prison.

[3] Simale’s anthology of French poetry, translated mostly by herself, Es tevi turpinu, Liesma, Riga, 1970, was given an outstanding review in Le Monde, 26 March 197l.

[4]. The text of Bulgakov’s Heart of a Dog was published abroad in Grani 69, 1968.

[5] See the attack on Nakashidze printed in Komsomolskaya pravda, 30 October 1963.