23.2 The Trial of Nadezhda Yemelkina

No 23 : 5 January 1972

On 25 November the trial took place in Moscow of Nadezhda Pavlovna Yemelkina (for her arrest see CCE 20.//). She was charged under (Article 190-1 of the Russian Criminal Code) with preparing and circulating libellous information which defamed the Soviet social and political system.

On 27 June 1971, at 6.00 in the evening, Nadezhda Yemelkina [Emelkina] went out into Pushkin Square with a placard demanding freedom for the political prisoners of the USSR and freedom for Vladimir Bukovsky. In addition to this she threw into the crowd a bunch of leaflets with the following text:

“In recent years hundreds of people in the USSR have been arrested and sentenced for being true to their beliefs, for demanding freedom of expression, as guaranteed by the Soviet Constitution. Those condemned are kept in the Mordovian camps – postbox ZhKh-385, Mordovskaya ASSR if sentenced under Article 70 of the Code, or in camps for ordinary criminals if convicted under Article 190. Alternatively, Nazi methods are applied to those sentenced – the internment of healthy people in special psychiatric prisons, where they receive forcible treatment and are held for an indefinite period of time.

“Citizens! Be aware that in your country people continue to this very day to be arrested for their beliefs, like in the terrible times of Stalin.

Nadezhda Yemelkina, 25, worker, Moscow.

27 June 1971.”

That evening there was a holiday on the occasion of Youth Day and many people were in the square. After a few minutes Yemelkina was seized by police officials and driven off to a police-station, whence she was transferred to the Butyrka Prison.

The trial took place in the people’s court of the Babushkin district of Moscow. Judge [V.V.] Bogdanov presided, Procurator Biryukova led for the prosecution, and Yemelkina was defended by lawyer [S.L.] Ariya. [82] The trial lasted from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Almost one and a half hours were spent on preparing the text of the sentence, and so the entire judicial examination lasted for not more than one and a half hours.

Seven witnesses were questioned in connection with the case, including two police officials who had detained Yemelkina, and who confirmed what had occurred on Pushkin Square on 27 June. All of them recognized the placard which Yemelkina had held, and copies of the leaflet which she had handed out. Yemelkina confirmed the facts with which she was incriminated, but pleaded not guilty. She said that the facts stated in the leaflet corresponded to reality and were not libellous fabrications. She declared that the right to protest against the infringement of legality was her constitutional right. To the procurator’s question whether she regretted what had happened, Yemelkina answered in the negative.

Procurator Biryukova in her speech for the prosecution tated, among other things, that there were no political prisoners in the Soviet Union and that this term was in no way applicable to Soviet reality. She said also that in the Soviet Union no-one was tried for his beliefs. Yemelkina’s assertion that in our country people are imprisoned in psychiatric prisons she described as a monstrous slander. In conclusion she demanded as punishment for Yemelkina five years of exile.

Defence Counsel Ariya, in his speech for the defence, said that five years of exile would be a clear infringement of the law, as Article 190-1 of the Russian Criminal Code laid down three years of imprisonment as the maximum punishment. Exile was a milder measure than imprisonment. If a milder measure was being applied, then it was completely unfounded in juridical terms that the term of exile should significantly exceed the maximum term envisaged for the normal type of punishment.

Yemelkina said that her final speech was the text of the leaflet which she had handed out.

The court sentenced N. P. Yemelkina to five years of exile [see also note 30].

A statement circulated by Yemelkina’s friends after the trial contains the words:

“The time she spent five minutes on Pushkin Square calling for freedom for Soviet political prisoners. For this she received five years.”

 

23.2 The Trial of Nadezhda Yemelkina

[82] Bogdanov also presided at a number of other political trials – those of Natalya Gorbanevskaya, Olga Ioffe (CCE 15.1 and 15.2), Mikhail Makarenko (CCE 16//) and Anatoly Levitin-Krasnov (CCE 20.//). Biryukova was State prosecutor at Levitin’s trial, as well. Ariya had previously defended Vera// Lashkova (CCE 1.1), Ilya Rips (CCE 10,//) and Joseph Mendelevich (CCE 17.6).