1.1 – The trial of Galanskov, Ginzburg, Dobrovolsky and Lashkova [8-12 January 1968]

<< No 1 : 30 April 1968 >>

On 10 December 1968 it will be twenty years since the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Declaration of Human Rights. “Human Rights Year” began all over the world on 10 December 1967. On 11 December 1967 the trial of Yury Galanskov, Alexander Ginzburg, Alexei Dobrovolsky and Vera Lashkova was due to begin in Moscow. The trial was postponed, however, and only began on 8 January 1968.

All four were charged under Article 70 of the RSFSR Criminal Code (Anti-Soviet agitation and propaganda); Galanskov was additionally charged under Article 88-1 (illicit currency transactions). The four were all arrested in January 1967 and spent nearly a year in Lefortovo prison in Moscow, a violation of Article 97 of the RSFSR Criminal [Procedural] Code which states that the maximum period of pre-trial detention may not exceed nine months.

Before his arrest Yury Galanskov (b. 1939) was a manual worker at the State Literary Museum and a second-year student attending evening courses [1] at the Historical Archives Institute. He compiled and issued the typewritten literary collection Phoenix 66. Galanskov’s poems were printed in the first Phoenix (1961) and also circulated separately. Alexander Ginzburg (b. 1936) was also a manual worker at the State Literary Museum and a first-year student attending evening courses at the Historical Archives Institute. He put together a collection of materials on the case of Sinyavsky and Daniel (the so-called White Book), and in November 1966 sent copies to certain deputies of the USSR Supreme Soviet and to the State Security Committee of the USSR [the KGB].

In 1960, Ginzburg was arrested by the KGB in connection with the issuing of the Syntax poetry collections (three issues) but convicted under Article 196, part 1, of the RSFSR Criminal Code (Forgery of documents). Ginzburg was sentenced to two years in corrective labour camps, the maximum term under Article 196-1, in spite of the insignificance of the crime (forging a certificate in order to sit an exam on behalf of a friend) and the complete absence of mercenary motives behind his actions. He served the sentence in the camps of the Komi ASSR [Northwest Russia]. In 1964 the KGB again tried to bring charges against Ginzburg under Article 70, accusing him of being in possession of ‘anti-Soviet’ literature, but the case was dismissed for lack of a corpus delicti.

Alexei Dobrovolsky (b. 1938) worked as a book-binder [2] in the State Literary Museum and was a first-year student at the Moscow Institute of Culture. In 1957 he was sentenced under article 58-10 of the RSFSR Criminal Code (the present Article 70) to six years’ corrective labour. He served the sentence in Potma in Mordovia SSR [Volga District]. Dobrovolsky was released from the camp in 1961. In 1964 he again faced criminal charges but, after a forensic psychiatric examination, was pronounced insane (schizophrenia was diagnosed) and sent to the special psychiatric prison hospital in Leningrad. The collection Phoenix 1966 published an article by Dobrovolsky on “Relations between knowledge and faith”. Before her arrest Vera Lashkova (b. 1945) worked as a typist at Moscow University and was a second-year student at the Institute of Culture.

Galanskov & Ginzburg

Yury Galanskov and Alexander Ginzburg

The court proceedings lasted for five days (8-12 January 1968). Twenty-five witnesses were heard, and the court was shown material evidence [CCE 2.8] confiscated during searches:  NTS books and pamphlets, money and a hectograph, all discovered in Dobrovolsky’s flat; two copies of the Phoenix collection, found in Galanskov’s and Ginzburg’s flats; also an edition of the White Book published abroad in March 1967, and several typewriters, on which the White Book and Phoenix materials had been copied.

The trial was formally open to the public, but admission was by permit. In November 1967 a letter bearing 116 signatures was sent to the Moscow City Court, referring to the current practice of refusing access to public trials, and asking in advance that the signatories should be given the opportunity to attend these proceedings. Not one of the signatories of the letter was given such an opportunity; the procedure used for allocating permits to attend the trial has still not become entirely clear. All that is known is that, apart from a large number of KGB agents and members of Komsomol operational squads, and a few representatives [3] of the legal profession (e.g. only two passes were issued to the Moscow Collegium of Lawyers), the remainder of the audience obtained their permits principally from district committees of the Communist Party.

The closest relatives of the accused were present in the courtroom: Galanskov’s parents, sister and wife; Ginzburg’s fiancée; Dobrovolsky’s mother; Lashkova’s mother; and, after the testimony of witnesses had been heard (i.e. towards the end of the third day of the hearing), Ginzburg’s mother and Dobrovolsky’s wife. On the second day of the hearing Galanskov’s sister Yelena Galanskova was not allowed back into the court after going out for a few minutes to get a breath of fresh air (she was pregnant), allegedly because she had spoken to witnesses who had not yet been questioned. In spite of the severe frost a large number of people gathered near the court building, more especially towards the end of each day’s sessions. The largest number, some one hundred people – not including foreign correspondents and the huge number of informers – assembled on the last day to hear the verdict pronounced.

The court (the Procurator was Terekhov, the Judge Mironov) sentenced Yury Galanskov to seven years’ imprisonment to be served in strict-regime camps, Alexander Ginzburg to five years, Alexei Dobrovolsky to two years and Vera Lashkova to one year. The lawyers of all four convicted individuals entered appeals. The appeals were heard in the Russian Supreme Court on 16 April 1968 (Procurator Terekhov, Judge Ostroukhova). The sentence of the Moscow City Court was upheld. Lashkova was released on 17 January 1968, having served her sentence in full. Up to the day of the appeal hearing the three remaining accused were held in Lefortovo Prison (Article 97 of the Russian Criminal [Procedural] Code thus being further infringed).

1.2 Protests about the Trial …