24.7 Items from the [Soviet] press

No 24 : 5 March 1972

[SARATOV]

On 4 February Kommunist, the Saratov Region newspaper, published an article by V. Proletkin entitled “In the pillory”.

The article mentions twenty persons by name. Four of them are merely said to have visited a “black market” in books. Ten of them are said to have duplicated and circulated pornography (eight of them “have been sentenced by the Regional Court to various terms of imprisonment”). The remaining six – V. Strelnikov, a section-head at a toy factory, B. Yampolsky, an artist attached to a cinema, Yu. Boldyrev, a bibliographer at the regional children’s library, A. Kattse and M. Belokrys, both musicians, and V. Nulman, a teacher [34] – are described as tuning in

“… to the broadcasts of certain foreign radio stations and even make tape-recordings of them. V. Strelnikov, for example, kept a note-book in which he painstakingly entered the transmission schedules of the Voice of America, Radio Free Europe and the BBC. They searched frantically for ‘true’ works of literature by ‘real’ Russian writers, turncoats like A. Solzhenitsyn and A. Kuznetsov …. To replenish their supplies the ‘samizdat publishers’ try to establish contacts in other towns . . . and return with copies of the original works, which have been published abroad. Pristine sheets of paper are placed in typewriters without delay . . . they go without sleep, feverishly retyping the manuscripts of works of literature which cast aspersions on the Soviet way of life. . . . One copy for their secret cache, the rest – for circulation. . . .

“. . . It is Strelnikov who gave them away. And in the most shameful way: he got blind drunk and lost his briefcase containing anti-Soviet literature. The ‘samizdat publishers’ got the wind up. Only Strelnikov remained calm, assuring them fervently that the briefcase would turn up. Aware of his weakness for hard drink, he had left in it a note which would be their salvation: ‘The finder is requested to return this briefcase to . . .’ And the briefcase was returned to him … by the police . . .

“Scared of being called to account, the ‘samizdat publishers’ voluntarily handed over their wares to the appropriate authorities. Dozens of anti-Soviet documents . . . were confiscated from their secret cache.

“And that, probably, is all there is to tell about the customers of the now defunct ‘do-it-yourself’ book market.”

[MOSCOW]

On 17 January Izvestia published an article by V. Rogozin and S. Konyushin entitled “The masquerade that failed”, the story of a journey by two American congressmen. The article tells how [James] Scheuer and [Alphonzo] Bell, both US Congressmen, “waited for a certain Chalidze, who was to give them slanderous information about Soviet reality, and eventually met him in the foyer of the Intourist hotel”. [35]

The Chronicle has learned that the Congressmen in question, together with their wives, visited Valery Chalidze, who during a preliminary telephone conversation agreed to meet them in the foyer of the Intourist hotel [in central Moscow] and take them to his home. At the end of their discussion the Congressmen suggested that Chalidze should avail himself of the opportunity which had arisen, and send letters to friends or documents to foreign legal associations. V. Chalidze declined this suggestion.

As for the comic “cops-and-robbers” episode about a disguise (see the article), it may be noted that the Congressmen were wearing identical white sheep-skin coats: the exchanging of coats was thus apparently due simply to the fact that they had mixed them up.

NOTES

[34] NBSJ No. 213 (24 February–12 March) reports that Vladimir Nulman, aged 30, is a theoretical physicist who left Saratov and took a teaching job at Chernovitsy in the Ukraine (home address: Kotovskogo St, No 5, Apt 2). In September 1971 he was sacked for requesting a reference, and on 30 November his home was searched. In January he applied to leave for Israel with his family.

[35] As reported by the world press the next day, the two Congressmen were later expelled from the USSR on 12 January. See their statements about the reasons in a UPI dispatch of 16 January from Tel-Aviv and in the Washington Post report of 17 January from London.