What Goes Around Comes Around

Supreme Court Chief Justice Accused of Persecuting Dissidents during Soviet Times 
He convicted human rights activist Felix Svetov, whose daughter Zoya Svetova had her apartment searched by the FSB yesterday
Alexei Obukhov
Moskovsky Komsomolets
March 1, 2017

Memorial has published documents relating to the case of journalist and human rights activist Zoya Svetova’s father, Felix Svetov, who was convicted in the Soviet for his human rights works. His trial, in 1986, was presided over by Vyacheslav Lebedev, who has been chief justice of the Russian Federal Supreme Court since 1989.

Chief Justice Vyacheslav Lebedev. Photo courtesy of Kremlin.ru

According to Memorial, Svetov was found guilty because he had made “defamatory” allegations that “innocent people [were] thrown into prison” and accusations that the authorities did not observe socialist laws and violated the rules of the Criminal Procedure Code.

Ultimately, Lebedev, who was then deputy head judge of Moscow City Court, sentenced Svetov to five years of exile.

Memorial published the information in connection with the search conducted this past Tuesday in the apartment of Felix Svetov’s daughter Zoya Svetova, an employee of Open Russia, which is headed by Mikhail Khodorkovsky. A similar search had taken place before Svetov’s trial in 1986.

Yet investigators have claimed that the hours-long search, which in particular involved confiscating the computers of Svetova’s children, the well-known journalists and brothers Filipp, Tikhon and Timofei Dzyadko, was carried out as part of the case against Khodorkovsky’s company Yukos, launched back in 2003. Svetova herself has suggested the real reason for the search was her work on the Moscow Public Monitoring Commission.

Memorial added that, in 1984, Lebedev handed down a guilty verdict to human rights activist Elena Sannikova. She was convicted of “anti-Soviet agitation and propaganda.”

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Moskovsky Komsomolets Deletes Article on Supreme Court Chief Justice’s Involvement in Persecuting Soviet Dissidents
Meduza
March 1,  2017

On March 1, an article entitled “Supreme Court Chief Justice Accused of Persecuting Dissidents during Soviet Times” vanished from the website of newspaper Moskovsky Komsomolets. The article was published on Wednesday afternoon and was accessible on the site for a few hours.

No reasons have been given for its deletion. A copy of the article has been cached in Google Search results.  Moskovsky Komsolets editor-in-chief Pavel Gusev told Meduza he was unaware of why the the article had been deleted and was hearing about the matter for the first time.

The article discusses Memorial’s publication of documents relating to a police search of the home of Felix Svetov and Zoya Krakhmalnikova, parents of Zoya Svetova, which took place in 1982.

Among other things, Memorial’s Facebook post points out that the presiding judge in Svetov’s case, which was heard in the mid 1980s, was Vyacheslav Lebedev, who would become chief justice of the Russian Federal Supreme Court in 1989.

FSB investigators searched journalist Zoya Svetova’s home for over ten hours on February 28, 2017, allegedly, as part of the Yukos affair. Svetova works for Mikhail Khodorkovsky’s Open Russia, but claims she knows nothing about Yukos’s business.

Translated by the Russian Reader. Thanks to Comrades AK and JM for the heads-up

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Zoya Svetova. Photo courtesdy of L'Express
Zoya Svetova. Photo courtesy of L’Express

Russia: ‘Deeply alarming’ raid targets human rights activist and journalist Zoya Svetova
Amnesty International
28 February 2017

After Russian criminal investigators searched the flat of Zoya Svetova, a prominent journalist and human rights activist, this morning, Sergei Nikitin, Director of Amnesty International Russia, said:

“Today’s search of Zoya Svetova’s flat is deeply alarming. She is one of Russia’s most respected journalists and human rights activists – it is unclear what she might have to do with the criminal investigation against YUKOS.”

“This search seems like a blatant attempt by the authorities to interfere with her legitimate work as a journalist and perhaps a warning for her and others of the risks of human rights work and independent journalism in Russia.”

Zoya Svetova previously worked for Reporters without Borders and Soros Foundation in Russia.

The search was conducted by 12 officers from Russia’s Investigative Committee that probes serious crime. According to Svetova’s lawyer, it was linked to a case of alleged embezzlement and tax fraud by the former YUKOS oil company head Mikhail Khodorkovsky. One of the most prominent critics of the Kremlin, Khodorkovsky served 10 years in jail and in 2011, after being convicted of another offence and sentenced to a new term of imprisonment, he was declared a prisoner of conscience by Amnesty International.

In December 2016 Russian Investigative Committee officers raided the apartments of seven Open Russia activists as well as the movement’s offices in Moscow and Saint Petersburg. The Investigative Committee claimed it was seeking evidence of money laundering by former YUKOS executives with links to Khodorkovsky.

Yesterday in Soviet History (Susanna Pechuro, Maya Ulanovskaya, and the SDR)

Susanna Pechuro. Photo courtesy of Sergei Stepanov
Susanna Pechuro. Photo courtesy of Sergei Stepanov

Sergei Stepanov
Facebook
February 7, 2017

On February 7, 1952, the closed trial of members of a Moscow young people’s literary club was held in Moscow. They were accused of disseminating leaflets, produced on a hectograph, about the undemocratic Soviet electoral system. A total of sixteen schoolchildren and university students stood as defendants in the case. They were charged with treason and planning the murder of [Politburo member and Stalin henchman Georgy] Malenkov. The group’s three organizers were sentenced to death. Three other members were sentenced to ten years in the camps, while the remaining ten members were sentenced to twenty-five years in the camps. In addition, Susanna Pechuro was accused of acting as a liaison between youth organizations and Jewish Zionist organizations.

Yevgeny Gurevich, Boris Slutsky, and Vladlen Furman, executed in 1952. Photo courtesy of Sergei Stepanov
Yevgeny Gurevich, Boris Slutsky, and Vladlen Furman, the group’s three organizers, executed in 1952. Photo courtesy of Sergei Stepanov and Wikipedia

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At the end of World War II and shortly after, Malenkov implemented Stalin’s plan to destroy all political and cultural competition from Leningrad, the former capital of Russia, in order to concentrate all power in Moscow. Leningrad and its leaders earned immense respect and popular support due to winning the heroic Siege of Leningrad. Both Stalin and Malenkov expressed their hatred to anyone born and educated in Leningrad, so they organized and led the attack on the Leningrad elite. Beria and Malenkov together with Abakumov organized massive executions of their rivals in the Leningrad Affair where all leaders of Leningrad and Zhdanov’s allies were killed, and thousands more were locked up in Gulag labour camps upon Stalin’s approval. Malenkov personally ordered the destruction of the Museum of the Siege of Leningrad and declared the 900-day-long defense of Leningrad “a myth designed by traitors trying to diminish the greatness of comrade Stalin.” Simultaneously, Malenkov replaced all communist party and administrative leadership in Leningrad [with] provincial communists loyal to Stalin.

Source: Wikipedia

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Susanna Pechuro, circa 1950-1951, before her arrest. Photo courtesy of Wikipedia
Susanna Pechuro, circa 1950-1951, before her arrest. Photo courtesy of Wikipedia

Susanna Solomonovna Pechuro (22 July 1933, Moscow—1 January 2014, Moscow) was Soviet dissident, political prisoner, and historian.

In 1950, while still a schoolgirl, she became involved in the underground youth organization Union of Struggle for the Revolution (SDR), formed by several 16- and 17-year-olds who had met in a literary club at the Moscow Young Pioneers House. The SDR tasked itself with returning Soviet society and the Soviet state to Leninist principles of organization, which, in their opinion, had been perverted by Stalin’s Bonapartist regime.

On January 18, 1951, Pechuro was arrested along with the organization’s other members. On February 13, 1952, the Military Collegium of the USSR Supreme Court sentenced Pechuro to 25 years in labor camps on charges of treason and planning the murder of Georgy Malenkov[.] The organization’s three leaders, Boris Slutsky (born 1932), Vladlen Furman (born 1932), and Yevgeny Gurevich (born 1931) were shot.

Pechuro served her sentence in various Gulag camps, including camps in Inta, Abez, and Potma. In 1956, the group’s case was reexamined. Pechuro’s sentence was reduced to five years and she was released.

Although she passed the entrance exams to Moscow State University’s history department, she was not enrolled. She graduated from the Moscow State Historical Archives Institute.

At the Historical Archives Institute, Pechuro researched the purges during the reign of Ivan the Terrible. Her work was published in the Proceedings of the Moscow State Historical Archives Institute. In 1961, she successfully defended her thesis, “The Decree Books as a Source on the History of Ivan the Terrible’s Zemshchina,” with Alexander Zimin as her advisor.

Pechuro worked in the Archive of Ancient Documents at the Institute for African Studies.

She was rehabilitated only on July 18, 1989, by the Plenum of the USSR Supreme Court.

A long-time member of Memorial, she signed the“Putin Must Go” petition in 2010.

Pechuro died in Moscow on January 1, 2014. She is buried at St. Nicholas Archangel Cemetery.

Source: Wikipedia

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The Union of Struggle for the Revolution (SDR) was a radical left-wing anti-Stalinist underground youth organization that existed between 1950 and 1951.

The Union of Struggle for the Revolution (SDR) was organized in Moscow by university students Boris Slutsky, Yevgeny Gurevich, and Vladlen Furman in 1950. The organization drafted a program and manifesto that spoke of socialism’s degeneration into state capitalism, described the Stalinist regime as Bonapartist, and noted the lack of civil liberties, the farcical elections, the imperial nature of [Soviet] foreign policy, and the disastrous state of agriculture. The members of the organization reproduced the documents on a hectograph.

The members of the organization were arrested by the MGB in January and February 1951.

On February 13, 1952, the Military Collegium of the USSR Supreme Court issued a verdict in the case. The verdict stated that a group of Jewish nationalists had established a treacherous terrorist organization whose members had tasked themselves with overthrowing the current Soviet regime by means of an armed uprising and terrorist acts against the leaders of the Soviet government and Communist Party. The only SDR member who did not plead guilty was Maya Ulanovskaya. Slutsky, Gurevich, and Furman were sentenced to death. Ten members of the organization were sentenced to 25 years in prison, and three more, to 10 years. The three leaders of the SDR were shot on March 26, 1952, and their ashes were buried at Donskoe Cemetery. The surviving defendants were released from the camps after a retrial in 1956. In 1989, all the defendants in the case, some posthumously, were rehabilitated “for lack of evidence of a crime.”

SDR Members

Sentenced to death:
Yevgeny Gurevich (born 1931)
Boris Slutsky (born 1932)
Vladlen Furman (born 1931)

Sentenced to 10 years in prison:
Tamara Lazarevna (born 1932)
Galina Smirnova (born 1931)
Nina Uflyand (born 1934)

Sentenced to 25 years in prison:
Irena Arginskaya (born 1932)
Ida Vinnikova (born 1931)
Felix Voin (born 1931)
Grigory Mazur (born 1931)
Vladimir Melnikov (born 1932)
Yekaterina Panfilova (born 1932)
Susanna Pechuro (born 1933)
Alla Reif (born 1931)
Maya Ulanovskaya (born 1932)
Inna Elgisser (born 1930)

Source: Wikipedia

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Maya Ulanovskaya in the Gulag, 1955. Courtesy of Wikipedia

Maya Alexandrovna Ulanovskaya (born October 20, 1932, New York) is a translator and writer who was a member of the Soviet dissident movement.

Ulanovskaya was born in New York, where her parents Alexander Ulanovsky (1891—1971) and Nadezhda (Esther) Markovna (1903—1986) were Soviet spies working for the Main Intelligence Directorate (GRU). They were arrested in 1948 and 1949 on political charges.

In 1949, after graduating from high school, Ulanovskaya enrolled in the Moscow Food Industry Institute. There she joined the underground anti-Stalinist youth organization Union of Struggle for the Revolution (SDR).

On February 7, 1951, Ulanovskaya was arrested by the MGB. On February 13, 1952, she was sentenced to 25 years in prison. She served her sentence in Ozerlag.

In February 1956, the case was reviewed, Ulanovskaya’s sentence was reduced to five years, and she and her accomplices were released under an amnesty.

The same year, she married Anatoly Yakobson. In 1959, she gave birth to a son, who later became a historian, journalist, and politician.

In the 1960s and 1970s, Ulanovskaya worked at the library of the Institute of Scientific Information on Social Sciences of the Russian Academy of Sciences (INION RAN) and was involved in the Soviet human rights movement, retyping samizdat publications, passing information overseas, etc.

In 1973, she emigrated with her husband and son to Israel. In 1974, she divorced her husband.

Ulanovskaya worked at the National Library in Jerusalem. She has translated several books from English (including books by Arthur Koestler), Hebrew, and Yiddish. She and her mother co-authored a memoir entitled The Story of One Family, published in the US in 1982 and later reprinted in Russia. She is author of the book Freedom and Dogma: The Life and Work of Arthur Koestler (Jerusalem Publishing Center, 1996).

Source: Wikipedia

All texts except the excerpt about Malenkov translated by the Russian Reader. Thanks to Yuri Albert for the heads-up on Sergei Stepanov’s Facebook post, which got this ball rolling.

 

Sergey Khakhayev, 1938-2016

Sergey Khakhayev. Photo by Irina Flige
Sergey Khakhayev. Photo by Irina Flige

Sergey Khakhayev Has Died
Cogita.ru
December 5, 2016

Sergey Khakhayev, co-chair of St. Petersburg Memorial, died today, December 5, 2016. His funeral will take place on Friday, December 9.

Petersburg Memorial regretfully announces that Sergey Dmitryevich Khakhayev, co-chair of its board of directors, has passed away. Sergey Dmitryevich was admitted to Alexandrovsky Hospital with a massive stroke on November 13, 2016. This morning, we received word of his death. He never came out of the coma caused by the stroke. Sergey Dmitryevich was seventy-nine years old.

[…]

Sergey Khakhayev was born in Leningrad on September 24, 1938. He graduated from the city’s Technological Institute in 1960 with a degree in chemical engineering, and worked at the Krylov Shipbuilding Research Institute (Krylov State Research Center). Khakhayev was a leader of the Union of Communards, an underground Marxist group (aka the Kolokol Group, the Kolokol Magazine Group, and the Kolokolchiki) and co-authored the group’s program, “From a Dictatorship of the Bureaucracy to a Dictatorship of the Proletariat,” with Valery Ronkin. On November 26, 1965, Leningrad City Court sentenced Khakhayev to seven years in a labor camp and three years in exile. He served his sentence in Dubravlag and his exile in Ust-Abakan. Released in 1975, he was involved in the Soviet civil rights movement. Khakhayev served as co-chair of Petersburg Memorial, as well as on the Petersburg Human Rights Council and the Commission for the Restoration of Rights of Rehabilitated Victims of Political Repression in St. Petersburg and Leningrad Region.

Kolokolchiki, 1965-2015 (in Russian, with English subtitles)

The film’s co-director, Yevgenia Kulakova, wrote the following today:

“Sergey Dmitryevch Khakhayev died today. It is hard to believe he is no longer with us, because he was always in Memorial, and it seemed like he would be there forever. I cannot recall him ever missing a single event, rally, meeting or telephone call. I recently wrote about how, a couple of years ago, I went to the site of Timur Kacharava’s murder on November 13, quite late in evening. No one was left there except Sergey Dmitryevich. He stood there and stood there and would not leave. I was really struck by this. This year, Sergey Dmitryevich did not go to Bukvoyed bookstore [where Kacharava was stabbed to death by neo-Nazis in 2005]. When we got there, we learned from Irina [Flige] that he was in hospital.

“Sergey Dmitryevich was one of the Kolokolchiki. Getting to know them and working with them last year was an important event in my life. Here I’d like to quote part of our interview with Sergey Dmitryevich:

‘The fact is that when a person is still young, he has a thirst for justice. With age, the thirst goes away, but it exists in youth, at any rate, amongst a significant part of the populace. Some people could not care less from the get-go: nothing interests them except a half liter of vodka. But many people want justice, and they react badly to any setbacks and try to fight for justice, locally and more generally. Communist ideas are perennial ideas in this sense. Because this is the fundamental principle: the desire to make the world more just. When push comes to shove you use what comes to hand. Marx was what came to hand in our case.’

“The Kolokolchiki were born in 1962, when Sergey Khakhayev and Valery Ronkin, Communist Youth League members, public order volunteers, and Technology Institute graduates, wrote the pamphlet ‘From a Dictatorship of the Bureaucracy to a Dictatorship of the Proletariat.’ The pamphlet opened as follows: ‘The first thing that strikes a person entering adult life in socialist society is the enormous amount of lies and hypocrisy that have permeated our reality.’ This was followed by leaflets handed out among volunteers traveling to work in the Virgin Lands Campaign, at a rally of camping enthusiasts, and at Leningrad University. Then there were two issues of the magazine Kolokol. The third issue was never published: the manuscript was arrested along with the Kolokolchiki. Khakhayev and Ronkin got the worst of it: seven years in labor camps and three years in exile. Sergey Dmitryevich served his sentence in Mordovia, and his exile in Ust-Abakan in Krasnoyarsk Territory. He was joined in exile by Valeria Chikatuyeva, who had been released earlier. They were married, got a dog, and lived for three years in a tiny eleven-meter-square house. They and the dog moved to Luga, which was located beyond the 101st kilometer restriction zone around Leningrad. I could probably tick off on my fingers the number of times I met with them when the two of them were not together. They were always together. It was in Luga that Khakhayev and Ronkin wrote their last joint article, ‘Socialism’s Past and Future.’ Then came perestroika, and Memorial, with which Khakhayev was involved until his final days.

I see the Kolokolchiki as exemplars of camaraderie, friendship, love, and a zest for life. The way they talk about one another in interviews, the way they call each other on Skype from thousands of kilometers away, the way they miss and talk about their comrades who have already passed away. It is hardest for them right now. Hang in there, my dear friends.”

[…]

Sergey Khakhayev on a work brigade (before his arrest)
Sergey Khakhayev, 1960s
Sergey Khakhayev, 1960s
Sergey Khakhayev and his wife Valeria Chikatuyeva, Ust-Abakan, 1970s
Sergey Khakhayev and his wife Valeria Chikatuyeva, Ust-Abakan, 1970s
Valery Ronkin and Sergey Khakhayev, Leningrad, 1976
Valery Ronkin and Sergey Khakhayev, Leningrad, 1976

[…]

Translated by the Russian Reader. All photos courtesy of Cogita.ru

 

Kommunella Markman: Death to Beria

Kommunella “Ella” Markman was born in 1924 in Tbilisi. In 1943–1944, Ella Markman and her friends were members of the underground youth organization Death to Beria. In 1948, all members of the organization were arrested and sentenced to twenty-five years forced labor. Markman served seven years in the Inta camps (Komi Republic), working on logging and construction sites. In 1957, she married an ex-inmate she had met in the camps and returned to Tbilisi. She was rehabilitated in 1968. She lives in Moscow and writes poems.

My dad was a very committed communist and made me the same way. From early childhood, Dad taught me this principle: “What do you think your enemies want? They want you to feel bitter, be in a bad mood, and get you to throw up your paws. If you don’t want to make your enemies happy, always keep your chin up!”

Ella’s father, Moisei Markman, was a senior official in the Transcaucasian Soviet government. In 1937, he was arrested and shot. In 1938, Ella’s mother was sentenced to five years in the camps as a “family member of a traitor.” She served her sentence in a camp in Kazakhstan.

Dad was arrested. They left Mom alone then. She went around looking for work. She would go somewhere and say, “My husband has been arrested. I have two kids and I’m looking for work.” They would tell her they would think it over and to come back in five days or so. She would come back in five days, but there wouldn’t be a single person left there: everyone would have been arrested. Stalin did not like Georgia, and he particularly disliked Tbilisi.

I was at a very good school. Six of us were tried for organizing [Death to Beria], and then two more friends of mine were tacked onto the case just like that because it was convenient. Of those young folks, three of us, Tema Tazishvili, our leader, Yura Lipinsky, and I, were in the same class. Shura Baluashvili was in the class above us. Meaning that four of the six, and I was the fifth, were from the same school.

We were very good friends. What was really valued in those days was the willingness to do something heroic. Everyone just wanted to end up in a situation where they could do something heroic. For example, my friends brought this doggerel back with them from the Literary Institute [in Moscow]:

I’m talking like I’m crazed.
For this I am to blame.
I’d like to set your house ablaze
To save you from the flames.

In 1943, I was in Tbilisi. I met up with my classmates from school, and we decided we could not go on living in fright, our tails tucked between our legs, that something horrible was going on in Georgia. We hated Stalin and Beria furiously. No one believes that at the age of nineteen [we could do these things]. But I am surprised that at the age of nineteen—how should I put it? It was strange not to have seen what was going in. And we decided to fight. We posted leaflets and agitated where we could.

In the late 1930s, clandestine anti-Stalinist youth organizations emerged in the Soviet Union. Their members, high school upper classmen and university students, set themselves the ambitious goal of changing the existing regime. However, in practice they only managed to produce and distribute leaflets before they were arrested, sent to the camps or executed, and their organizations were shut down.

We just made plans. There could be no question of murder, of course. The only thing we could have done was kill Beria, since he was fond of pretty young women, and I was young and had a very good figure. I’ll show you the photographs. I said I would be ready to do that [i.e., seduce him] just to kill him. Beria could have been killed. But my dream was to kill Stalin, too. We all knew it was only a dream, so we called our organization Death to Beria.

Our organization existed only in 1943 and 1944. In 1949, I was arrested, arrested in Batumi and brought to Tbilisi. What was the reason for my arrest? They told me to tell them about my “anti-Soviet activities.” Now I thought, what anti-Soviet activities of mine are they talking about? Since we had not been caught either for passing out leaflets or agitating, I was certain this was not the reason. So much time had passed—1945, 1946, 1947. It was only in April 1948 that we were arrested.

So we could not figure out how they had found us out. We learned this much later, during the trial itself, when Dormishkhan Alshibayev stood up and said, literally, “I ask the esteemed Special Council [of the KGB] to take into account that on April 7”—we were arrested in late April—“that I myself went to the KGB and told them everything.” I was simply stunned!

 Yes, we made quite dramatic speeches during the trial. One of us said, “We hope that our blood will show people how those who stand for the truth are punished!” It was something like that. And then suddenly the judge said, “There won’t be any shedding of your blood.”

The judge said, “Although your acts wholly fit the death penalty, it has now been abolished, so [you are sentenced to] twenty-five years in the camps.”

So I ended up in a camp. And it was great, I mean that seriously! I would have never learned so many valuable things otherwise.

I said to myself I wouldn’t do any easy work in the camp. That is not how Dad taught me, I said to myself. And from the first day to the last I always did the work everyone else did.

At first, I worked quite poorly. The first time I swung a pick I nearly hit someone in the head. I was incredibly tired at first: I couldn’t even go to the mess hall. Lyuda busted her guts for me and brought me lunch. This (taking food out of the mess hall) was also forbidden.

All the girls would get tired. Our main job was building roads.

Then one day, I came back [from work] and felt I was tired, but no more tired than the others. And from that day everything became easier and easier. I started doing other people’s work for them.

In 1952, Minlag [Mineralny Camp Directorate, Komi Republic] tightened the rules for prisoners. The books they kept now had to undergo mandatory inspection. Books that passed inspection were marked with a stamp from the camp’s cultural and education unit.

I had this big book by Lermontov. Two female prison wardens came in, one of them normal and decent, the other, a disgusting warden we called the Rat. The Rat took a look at my books, grabbed the Lermontov, and said, “Confiscate this!” The other one said, “But that’s Lermontov!” And the Rat said to her, “Just look at his tsarist epaulettes! Confiscate it: we cannot leave it.” So they confiscated my Lermontov book.

In the evening, I had to go upstairs to the mess hall on some business. We were not allowed to go to the mess hall for no reason. I think I had forgotten something—either gloves (although I don’t think it was cold yet) or a handkerchief—and went looking for it. After a while, I saw the Rat sitting there and reading. She was moving her lips, because she was semiliterate. I glanced at what it was: she was reading [Lermontov’s poem] “The Novice” line by line. And she was crying! That is when I realized what poetry was.

You cannot imagine what a source of support it has been to this day.

We would be building a road in winter. I would recite, for example, four lines of some light verse, Blok, say:

Song will be song forever,
And someone in the crowd always sings.
There is his head on a platter,
Handed by the dancer to the king…

The girls would be carrying their handbarrows thirty meters, all the while repeating [the lines]. Then they would come back, and I would test them to see if they knew it. And so the whole camp was learning poems all the time. Wasn’t that clever of me?

And then, after Stalin’s death. . . Just you try with all your imagination to picture what was going on with the KGB leadership, KGB officers, and our wardens after Khrushchev’s speech [at the 20th Party Congress in 1956]. Stalin’s death was a very, very convenient time for freedom.

Beria was shot. The whole camp knew about my hatred of Beria. I heard something about “enemies of the people,” “Beria,” etc., on the radio. I could have put two and two together, but I didn’t. At first, I thought that 1937 had begun all over again, and Beria had strengthened his power.

Our work team, which had been out cleaning, was coming back [to the camp], and I saw a crowd standing around the doors, by the guard post. I walked in, and there was applause and joy!

But most important is that it’s not so easy even for a force like the KGB to eradicate humanity in human beings. What was the camp meant to do? In Stalin’s time, it was supposed to reform us, to make us tremble before power. They needed to make us submissive. Oh, how they failed!

I have been lucky in life. I had support from poems and from the fact that my parents had taught persistence and told me there could be no greater happiness than overcoming difficulties. So we need difficulties to be happy.

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Editor’s Note. This is one in a series of short films made by Petersburg filmmaker Alexander Slobodsky, based on material from the Virtual Museum of the Gulag and video interviews recorded by the Memorial Research and Information Centre, Saint Petersburg.

My thanks to Evgeniya Kulakova for providing me with the Russian transcript to this film.