22.5 Material from the Regional Press

No 22 : 10 November 1971

ODESSA. On 6 March 1971 the newspaper Banner of Communism published an article (signed by I. Petrenko) entitled “Whose side are you on, Strokataya?”

It reported that Nina Antonovna Strokataya, the wife of Svyatoslav Karavansky (see CCE 7, 13, 15), [21] who is at present serving a second term in Vladimir Prison, had intended to defend her dissertation at the Central Scientific Research Laboratory of the Odessa Medical Institute, where she worked as a junior research officer (she has now been dismissed).

Her plans were thwarted by the vigilance of the Odessa medical scientists, who interpreted as a call for action a separate decision of the Judicial Collegium of the Vladimir Regional Court, in which it drew “the attention of the Rectorate of the Odessa Medical Institute to a number of facts, in order that measures might be taken to exert social pressure on Strokataya N. A. with the object of instilling in her a sense of high patriotic duty as a citizen of the USSR”. These facts were that “Strokataya … despite having known for a long time of the anti-Soviet activities of her husband Karavansky, maintained contact with him by letter and by visiting him, taking no steps to influence him to cease his anti-Soviet activity, but in fact encouraging this activity by her conduct”.

The author of the article endorses the actions of the Rector of the Odessa Medical Institute, who prevented Strokataya’s dissertation from making any further progress when she refused to repudiate her husband. The author accused her of complicity and threatens: “It is not yet too late — choose which side you are to be on. Time waits for no man”. [22]

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SIMFEROPOL [Crimea]. An article entitled “The Maligners” in Crimean Pravda on 17 October 1971, written by E. Pervomaiskaya and I. Nekrasov, reports on two very similar trials (in Sevastopol and Kerch).

In both cases the main defendants were “anonymous letter-writers” (in the first case, I. N. Slishevsky, in the second, N. I. Yakubenko), who had been prosecuted for slandering Soviet authority, but judged by forensic-psychiatric examinations to be of unsound mind and placed in psychiatric hospitals. In both cases, however, their accomplices (in Sevastopol – N. A. Nezdiiminoga, in Kerch – B. P. Chakovskikh) were sentenced to four years of strict-regime corrective-labour camps (in the former case to be followed by three years’ exile).

The newspaper does not indicate the articles [of the Criminal Code] under which the accused were convicted, but the additional penalty – exile – suggests Article 70 of the Russian Criminal Code [anti-Soviet agitation and propaganda]. Both cases involved witnesses who were not prosecuted (in Sevastopol – T. Zablotskaya, in Kerch  – workers A. D. Kutishchev, V. I. Obnorsky, G. E. Ponomaryov and V. F. Boichenko), who according to the article authors Pervomaiskaya and Nekrasov, should “pass sentence on themselves, acting in accordance with the laws of a citizen’s and a worker’s conscience”.

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SAMARKAND [Uzbekistan], In September 1971, under the heading “From the court-room”, the regional newspaper published Yu. Kruzhilin’s article “We will not be slandered” (sub-titled “The Samarkand People’s Court hears the case of an anonymous letter-writer at an assize session held at the club of the City Catering Concern”).

The Judge was E. I. Doduyev; the prosecutor, A. K. Aleksanyants [Assistant Procurator of Samarkand]; the defence counsel, I. B. Betman. The indictment was under Article 191-4 of the Uzbek Criminal Code (equivalent to Article 190-1 of the Russian Code). The article goes on to relate that in February 1970 [in fact: 1971] a certain Emilia Trakhtenberg sent a letter to the Chairman of the USSR Council of Ministers, and in March a letter to the USSR Ministry of Foreign Affairs, in which she wrote of the oppressed circumstances of the Jews and of the absence of the right to emigrate to Israel. The court judged these letters to be libellous, but how Trakhtenberg’s letters, addressed to the highest authorities, fell into the hands of the court – this the author of the article does not say. “The sentence is three years. Someone says: ‘Too little.’ No, not too little – just fair”, comments Yu. Kruzhilin.

Emilia Ruvimovna Trakhtenberg was born in Kiev. Her father was an artist, her mother a doctor. They were both killed at Baby Yar [by the Germans], After graduating from a pedagogical institute E. Trakhtenberg worked as librarian in a school, and later as director of a children’s library. In his article Yu. Kruzhilin compares the Hitlerite murderers of Baby Yar with E. Trakhtenberg, who in the opinion of the author had been preaching national exclusivity.

NOTES

[21. Strokataya – see also V. Chornovil, The Chornovil Papers, Toronto, 1968, pp. 166-221, and M. Browne, Ferment in the Ukraine, passim.]

[22. A Reuters dispatch of 11 December reported Strokataya’s arrest on 8 December at Odessa airport after her return from Nalchik.]