25.1 Political Trials (Spring 1972)

<< No 25 : 20 May 1972 >>

ODESSA [Ukraine]

A trial, held off and on from 4 to 19 May, has now come to an end. The defendants, Oleksa Prityka, Oleksa Riznykiv and Nina Strokata (see CCE 22 and 23) were charged under Article 62 of the Ukrainian Criminal Code. In court there figured, in particular, the following texts:[1] Ventsov’s work, “Think!”; the letter from Zheludkov to Sakharov; two issues of the Ukrainian Herald; the transcript of the trial of Pohruzhalsky; and a leaflet which had been distributed by a certain Dutch citizen in Moscow.

The prosecution relied, in the main, on the statements made by Prityka, who pleaded guilty. At the trial Prityka declared that he had long ago realized the anti-Soviet nature of his activity, and the essential criminality of his friends, but did not give himself up to the KGB only because of his extreme cowardice, even although he was convinced that the security organs did splendid work, and well knew that retribution was inevitable.

While he was already under investigation in prison, Prityka sent his wife a note requesting her to take to the KGB the files of samizdat which remained after the search, and which during the search were supposedly lying on the window-sill. His wife gave the required help to the investigators.

As well as Prityka, there appeared in court, as witnesses for the prosecution, friends of Prityka, two of whom had previously been sentenced under criminal articles, but regarding the third man, Prityka himself declared in court that this scoundrel and villain had more than once been caught stealing by him, Prityka.

It is known that a fellow-worker of Strokata[2] confirmed Prityka’s evidence concerning her distribution of the leaflet and the letter from Zheludkov. However, Prityka himself had never seen any incriminating documents in the possession of the accused. All his statements were based on the supposition that Riznykiv had been receiving this literature from her.

Towards the end of the trial, Riznykiv dispensed with the lawyer defending him.

In the course of the trial, Strokata also renounced her defence counsel when he, instead of demanding acquittal, asked for the charge to be changed from Article 62 to Article 187-1 of the Ukrainian Criminal Code.

Strokata and Riznykiv pleaded not guilty.

The verdict: Prityka, 2 years; Riznykiv, 5 years; and Strokata 4 years of strict-regime corrective labour camps.

It has already become customary not to be able to gain access to political trials. This trial took place in a room seating 30 people, from which, moreover, some chairs had been taken away. In spite of this some of the places were still left empty. The administration alleged that these places were reserved for representatives of the press. Nevertheless, contrary to custom, not a single line about this trial appeared in the local papers.

DUSHANBE [Tajikistan]

On 24 April 1971, Anatoly Sergeyevich Nazarov, a first-year external student of the History Faculty of the Tadzhik University, was arrested in Dushanbe. Nazarov (b. 1946) did his national service in the army, gained qualifications at night school, and worked as a chauffeur.

At first he was charged under Articles 67 and 69 of the Tajik Criminal Code, the order initiating the criminal case being signed by the Procurator of Tadzhikistan. Later the charge was changed to Article 203-1 of the Tadzhik Criminal Code.

The trial was supposed to be held in December 1971, but at the last minute was postponed. Nazarov’s relations were told that the case materials were at the USSR Procurator’s Office.

From 28 January 1972 until 6 February the Supreme Court of Tadzhikstan (in the capacity of a court of first instance) examined the case of Nazarov. The chairman was Ashurov, The prosecution case was argued by Procurator Varshavskaya. The counsel for the defence was Korenev. On the first day of the trial, Nazarov’s relatives (his parents and brother) did not even know that the trial had begun. On the second day, in spite of her request his mother was not allowed into the courtroom, and it was only from the third day of the trial that his parents and brother were present at the hearings.

In the indictment Nazarov was charged with having made statements (orally and in letters) about the 1968 events in Czechoslovakia, and with having sent to a friend by an essay by Sakharov (see CCE 5). In the indictment and the Procurator’s speech, this essay was directly mentioned, but in the verdict only referred to as the sending of “slanderous material”.

Nazarov pleaded not guilty.

His petition for A. D. Sakharov to be summoned to the court as a witness was refused. The witness Ifina, a history teacher at the night school, was threatened with dismissal because she could not remember any criminal statements made by Nazarov. Former fellow-students of Nazarov from the night school appeared as witnesses and said that Nazarov had asked his teachers too many questions, in particular about freedom of speech and of the press.

The speech for the defence was given by Nazarov himself instead of by his lawyer. In that speech and also in his final words to the court, Nazarov did not renounce his views, and declared that the prosecution had not proved any “deliberate falsity” in his statements.

The court sentenced Nazarov to three years’ deprivation of freedom in hard-regime corrective-labour camps. At present Nazarov is in a camp at the following address: Tadzhikskaya SSR, Dushanbe, postbox YaS 3/7.

SVERDLOVSK [Urals Military District]

A.I. Reshetnik was arrested on 18 October 1971, in Sverdlovsk. He was charged under Article 190-1 of the Russian Criminal Code. On 16-17 February 1972 the Sverdlovsk City Court, after examining the case, found him guilty and sentenced him to 2 years of ordinary-regime corrective-labour camps. On 12 April the Russian Supreme Court, in the absence of a defence lawyer, examined the appeal and left the sentence unchanged.

Anatoly Ilich Reshetnik was born in 1937 into a working-class family. After finishing secondary school he became a worker and then served in the army. In 1946 he graduated from the Faculty of History and Philology at the Lenin Pedagogical Institute in Moscow and was allocated to work in Sverdlovsk. There he taught history and social science in a school and then political economy in an Institute. Reshetnik was also a lecturer on international themes for the “Knowledge” [Znanie] society.

In 1964 A. I. Reshetnik joined the Party. In Sverdlovsk he was a Party organizer and chairman of the city teachers trade-union committee.

In March 1971 Reshetnik was expelled from the Party and dismissed from his job, for writing an open letter to Dean Reed,[3] and for his favourable attitude to Solzhenitsyn.

KHARKOV [Ukraine]

In the middle of March worker Yuly Brind (b. 1930) was arrested.

At first Brind spent a month in a psychiatric hospital, for examination; he was then declared sane and transferred to an investigation prison. An assizes session of the Kharkov City Court was held at the factory where Brind worked, he was charged under Article 187-1 of the Ukrainian Criminal Code.

Evidence brought against him consisted of a letter to Pravda, written in 1967 on the eve of the Six-day War, and tape-recordings of Israeli radio broadcasts.[4] The procurator declared in court: “Although you did not distribute these tapes, you were in a position to do so. The verdict [pronounced on 1 June]: two and a half years of ordinary regime camps.”

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NOTES

[1] For the texts of the first two items see Vestnik russkogo studencheskogo khristianskogo dvizheniya (91, rue Olivier de Serre, Paris 15), Nos 98 and 94 respectively; for the third see notes 18 and 26 in CCE 24; and for the fourth see The Chornovil Papers (pp. 21, 54-56, 106, 143), and Suchasnist, (Kartsplatz. 8/III, 8 Munich 2) No. 2, 1965.

[2] In earlier reports the Chronicle refers to her as Strokataya, the Russian form of her surname. See CCE 18.5 “A survey of events in Ukraine”.

[3] See this American singer’s letter against Solzhenitsyn in Literaturnaya gazeta, 27 January 1971, and an article about him in Newsweek, 20 March 1972.

[4] For more details on this case see News Bulletin on Soviet Jewry or NBSJ (postbox 23062, Tel-Aviv), Nos. 215-217. Brind’s appeal was turned down on 27 June.