21.10 News in Brief

«No 21 : 11 September 1971»

[1]

MOSCOW. On 27 April Rolan Teodorovich Avgustov (b. 1941), an electrician resident in Uman [Cherkassy Region] in the Ukraine, was detained at the entrance of the American Embassy.

He had come to Moscow with a statement to the Presidium of the USSR Supreme Soviet renouncing Soviet citizenship (his reason – expulsion from his trade union). After leaving the statement at the Reception Room of the Supreme Soviet, Avgustov went to the US Embassy and asked the policeman on duty to admit him. The policeman took him to the guard-room, from where Avgustov was sent to a psychiatric hospital.

Three weeks later he was transferred to the Regional Psychiatric Hospital in Korsun-Shevchenko [in Cherkassy Region], where he spent one-and-a-half months, with the diagnosis “an attack of schizophrenia”. During this period Avgustov’s father was summoned to the Uman KGB, where he was told that his son had been detained while attempting to betray the Fatherland. At present Avgustov is at liberty.

[2]

The English newspaper The Daily Telegraph, in its issue of 15 July [in fact: 1 June], published a report by the English actor David Markham about the detention of himself and his wife Olive by KGB officials at Moscow airport when they were leaving the USSR.

Mr. Markham has played parts in several Russian plays which have been translated into English (Trofimov in A. P. Chekhov’s play The Cherry Orchard, the priest in a television film of B. Pasternak’s novel Doctor Zhivago). As an active member of the National Council for Civil Liberties, he was interested in the civil rights movement in Russia. He came to the USSR wishing to visit Pasternak’s house at Peredelkino. When Mr. Markham and his wife were leaving Russia, KGB officials subjected them to a thorough search, going through all their clothing.

After this they were repeatedly questioned for a total of eleven hours over a period of two days [28-29 May], during which time they were not allowed to telephone the British Embassy. The Markhams were told to hand over letters from participants in the struggle for civil rights in Russia. During questioning they were threatened with long terms of imprisonment. [19]

[3]

When in Belgrade as a tourist during the 1969 summer vacation, Strolman, a lecturer at a Moscow technical college, requested the Yugoslav authorities to grant him Yugoslav citizenship. When they refused to accede to his request and announced that they would return him to the USSR, he made an attempt to commit suicide by stabbing himself twice – in the region of the heart and in the region of the carotid artery.

When he had recovered, Strolman was handed over to the Hungarians. While in prison in Budapest he again tried to kill himself. At present Strolman is in the USSR under investigation.

[4]

At the end of July the security organs detained several persons while they were talking to foreign correspondents. L. Tsypin was detained in Pushkin Square at 4.30 p.m. on 19 July and taken to police station No. 108. At 2.15 p.m. on 20 July, also in Pushkin Square, A. Slepak was detained and taken to the same police station. At 11 p.m. on the same day L. Tsypin was detained outside the Puppet Theatre and taken to police station No. 17.

At 6.40 p.m. on 27 July L. Tsypin and A. Slepak were again detained and taken to police station No. 10. On 27 July J. Begun was detained on the boulevard near Samotyochnaya Square and taken to police station No. 17. When detained they were searched, and notebooks were taken from them. In a number of cases the agents who detained them refused to reveal their identity. They were warned that if they did not stop associating with foreign correspondents, they would be subjected to criminal prosecution.

[5]

At the beginning of May Leonid Rendel, who returned four years ago from the Mordovian camps after serving ten years’ imprisonment (the case of the Krasnopevtsev group in 1957 [21]), applied to the USSR Minister of Internal Affairs and the chairman of the Moscow City Council for the restoration of his Moscow residence permit. ([For administrative surveillance after release], see CCE 1.5, item 3; [for extension of the surveillance], see CCE 4.7, item 8.)

Rendel was thereupon told to submit to the passport section of the MVD documents proving that he had resided in Moscow before his arrest, that his family was in Moscow, and that accommodation was available – which he did on 26 May.

On 22 July officers from police station No. 27 burst into the flat of Rendel’s wife and ordered him to leave, otherwise proceedings would be taken against him for infringement of the residence regulations. On 27 July the police burst in again. This time Rendel’s wife was handed an official refusal to give her husband a residence permit, dated 28 May. She was fined ten roubles “for harbouring citizen Rendel without a residence permit” and threatened with criminal proceedings for infringing the residence regulations.

[6]

After an appeal which left his sentence unaltered, E. Krasnov-Levitin has been sent to Smolensk to serve his [3-year] term of imprisonment (for his trial, see CCE 20.6).

[7]

On 29 July the RSFSR Supreme Court considered the appeal in the case of the Leningrad Trial of persons connected with the “aeroplane affair” (see CCE 20.1). Only six immediate relatives of the defendants were admitted to the court-room. The appeal court left the sentences unaltered.

[8]

In the Ukrainian Supreme Court

The Ukrainian Supreme Court was to have considered the appeal in the case of Reiza Palatnik (see CCE 20.5) at the end of July, but in connection with her statement that she had not been granted the right to familiarise herself with the materials of the court examination, the appeal was postponed and her case transferred from Kiev to Odessa.

[9]

On 3 August the Ukrainian Supreme Court heard the appeal in the case of F. M. Babelev of the Donetsk Region, who was convicted under Article 187-1 of the Ukrainian Criminal Code (equivalent to Article 190-1 of the Russian Code).

*

[10]

On 29 July Anatoly Marchenko was released after three years’ imprisonment. He was sent to Chuna in the Irkutsk Region [E. Siberia], where he has been placed under administrative surveillance [see also the New York Times dispatch of 9 August 1971].

[11]

The following have been released from the Mordovian camps:

9 July – Lailis Rijnieks, a Latvian, on being pardoned. He was sentenced in 1963 to fifteen years’ imprisonment in the case of the “Baltic Federation” together with Gunars Rode, Victor Kalnins, Knuts Skujenieks and others.

on 20 July – Victor Fyodorovich Grebenshchikov (b. 1907), a resident of Alma-Ata [Kazakhstan]; he was arrested in Moscow in 1967 when he attempted to throw the type-written text of his work “A history of the collectivisation of agriculture in the USSR” onto the territory of the American Embassy.

3 August – Dmitry Krasnov, a student at the Law Faculty of Kuibyshev [Samara] University, after two years’ imprisonment (see CCE 17.14, item 12 [where his name is misspelt as Kranov]).

26 August – Mikhail Horyn, after six years’ imprisonment [see on him V. Chornovil, The Chornovil Papers, New York, 1968, and Michael Browne, Ferment in the Ukraine, London, 1971.]

[12]

On 4 August Boris Maftser, one of the defendants at the Riga Trial of the Four (see CCE 20.2), was released from the Latvian KGB investigation prison (in Riga) on completion of his one-year sentence.

[13]

The Lithuanian priest Antanas Seskevicius was released on 6 September. (For his trial, see CCE 17.12, item 7.)

[14]

On 28 July Olga Ioffe (see CCE 15.2) was released from a psychiatric hospital of ordinary type in Moscow.

[15]

At the beginning of August Victor Kuznetsov was released from the Special Psychiatric Hospital in Kazan [Tatarstan]. (For his commital in 1969, see CCE 9.3.)

[16]

In August Valeria Novodvorskaya  was transferred from the Kazan Special Psychiatric Hospital to a psychiatric hospital of ordinary type in Moscow. (For her arrest, see CCE 11.7; for her trial, see CCE 13.2.)

[17]

Alexander Ginzburg, who was being held as a witness in Lefortovo Prison in Moscow (see CCE 20.11, item 16), was transferred back to Vladimir Prison on 5 August.

[18]

Oleg Vorobyov, who was tried and convicted (see CCE 18.10, item 1) in Perm [West Urals]  has arrived in Vladimir Prison to serve the first three years of his sentence.

[19]

Ruta Alexandrovich has arrived in the Mordovian camps. (For her trial, see CCE 20.2)

[20]

Simas Kudirka has arrived in Dubrovlag, Camp No. 3. (For his case, see CCE 20.6.)

[21]

By a court decision Genrikh Altunyan  was to be sent to work on the construction of a large chemical plant, but after a protest by the Procurator (on the grounds that Altunyan had committed “an especially dangerous crime”) he was kept in his camp [in Krasnoyarsk Region]. (For his trial, see CCE 11.11.)

[22]

The existence in the Soviet Union of a clandestine, typewritten, monthly socio-political journal, Political Diary, has become known through reports in the Western press. [22] It has been circulating for the past seven years among a small group of the Soviet intelligentsia.

Of the more than 70 issues of the journal, only eleven have become available to Western publishers, [23] comprising a total of 530 pages. The problems touched on in the journal concern the economic and political life of the USSR. The journal has published various essays, usually anonymous ones, transcripts of closed Party meetings, including the one at which Khrushchev was removed in 1964 and the October seminar on ideological matters (1966), and also the results of a survey carried out by Literaturnaya gazeta in 1968 among 10,000 of its subscribers; also various letters, petitions, documents, excerpts from unpublished books, and critical surveys of domestic and foreign policy.

[23]

On 15 July A. V. Snegov (b. 1898), a member of the Party since 1917, was expelled from the Party in his absence by the Krasnaya Presnya district Party committee in Moscow. [24]

After the October revolution Snegov was a leading Party official in many cities of the USSR, and was elected a delegate to the 11th Party congress [in 1922], In 1937 he was arrested, and was tortured while under investigation. Released in 1939 on the quashing of his case, he immediately came to Moscow and appeared in Mikoyan’s office to tell him about the lawless acts which were being committed during investigations. He was arrested on the spot and sentenced to ten years by the Special Board of the NKVD [KGB].

After Stalin’s death Snegov was rehabilitated, had several conversations with Khrushchev find was appointed head of the Political Directorate of GULAG [Chief Directorate of Camps] under the USSR Ministry of Internal Affairs. He took part in the compilation of Khrushchev’s secret speech to the 20th Party Congress. After the removal of Khrushchev he continued to struggle actively against the consequences of Stalin’s personality cult. After making a sharply-worded speech at a Party meeting in the MVD, he was dismissed. As the recipient of a special pension he repeatedly spoke at meetings of Old Bolsheviks, exposing the lawless acts of the Stalinists.

In November 1965 he came out in support of the book 22 June 1941 by [A.] Nekrich. A brief transcript of the discussion of the book appeared abroad, [25] and an investigation was begun. Snegov, and others who had taken part in the discussion, were summoned several times by the Control Commission of the Party.

Some time later Snegov spoke at a discussion [26] of a draft of Vol. 3 of the History of the Communist Party at the Institute of Marxism-Leninism, criticising the text dealing with the position of Kamenev, Zinoviev and Stalin on the eve of the October revolution. These two speeches served as the grounds for expelling Snegov from the Party.

NOTES

[19. David Markham: see also extracts from their open letter to Mr. Kosygin in The Daily Telegraph, 7 June 1971.]

[20. For Leonid Rendel See CCE 1 and 4, and Possev: Pervyi spetsialnyi vypusk, Frankfurt, August 1969.]

[21. For details of Krasnopevtsev group and Rendel, see Grani, Frankfurt, 80, 1971, p. 146.]

[22. See The Washington Post, The New York Times and Aftenposten, Oslo, for 22 August 1971 on the Political Diary.]

[23. The Russian edition of the Political Diary is to be published by the Alexander Herzen Foundation. Amsterdam.]

[24. On expulsion of Snegov, see also reports in the western press, e.g. The Times, 13 September 1971.]

[25. Nekrich English text in Survey, London, 63, 1967, Russian in Possev, 13 January 1967.]

[26. Snegov, history of party discussion: Russian transcript in Grani 65, 1967, pp. 129-56, abbreviated English text in Survey 63, 1967.]