Voices from the Past (No. 07): “Mustafa Dzhemilev has not been freed” (Part One)

On 20 January 2016 a warrant was issued by a court in Crimea for the arrest of Mustafa Dzhemilev. [
Court in Russian-occupied Crimea orders arrest of Mustafa Dzhemiliev 21.01.16 | Halya Coynash ] 

This act and the charges against the Crimean Tatar leader, often referred to as the “Gandhi” or “Nelson Mandela” of his nation, have been met with justifiable outrage. In the context of a life-long, non-violent struggle on behalf of his exiled nation and of all those in the USSR who were denied their basic rights, it is just one more episode of persecution at the hands of the powers-that-be in Moscow. 

In 1975, at the time of his fourth arrest (described below), Dzhemilev was serving a 12-month sentence in a penal colony in Omsk (Siberia). He was then 26 years old. 

Source: A Chronicle of Current Events, No 37, 30 September 1975 
No 37 : 30 September 1975 

On 19 June 1975, three days before the end of Mustafa Dzhemilev’s one-year term of imprisonment “for ignoring a summons for military service” (CCE 32.9 and 33), a fresh charge was brought against him under Article 190-1 of the RSFSR Criminal Code. 

Mustafa Dzhemilev
 [pictured left] declared a hunger strike. 

On the same day Investigator Guselnikova of the Omsk Procurator’s Office carried out a search in his barrack and at his place of work, confiscating correspondence (which had been passed by the camp censor), study notes, etc. In the record of the search it was noted that Dzhemilev had protested “against the confiscation of all his papers as being a violation of his rights”. 

For a long time now the KGB have been preparing to impose a new sentence on M. Dzhemilev. The following statement from him has become available: 

Major Trubnikov
Commandant of Colony UKh 16/3
of the Omsk Region Soviet Executive Committee 

Copy: Yu. Andropov,
KGB Chairman at the USSR Council of Ministers 

From prisoner Mustafa Dzhemilev,
Article 199-1 of the Uzbek SSR Criminal Code, sentence of 1 year 

On 15 May of this year warders and camp security officials carried out a search of my belongings and confiscated a number of my personal letters, papers, and exercise books containing notes in English and German, together with a few manuscripts in Russian, all of which contained no information forbidden by camp regulations. 

Some Soviet publications of English books were also confiscated, as were some issues of The Morning Star, the organ of the Communist Party of Great Britain, which cannot, as I see it, be considered forbidden literature in a communist country. 

Later, I was informed that the search and the confiscation of my papers were carried out on the orders of an officer of the KGB at the RSFSR Council of Ministers, who had come here from Tashkent, and of First Lieutenant Serov, an official of the Omsk region department of the KGB at the USSR Council of Ministers. When I demanded that a record be made of the papers and literature confiscated from me, Lieutenant-Colonel Yambatarov, head of the camp’s special section, who had been entrusted with all the confiscated papers, lied to me, saying that the papers had been confiscated on the orders of the camp commandant, i.e., on your orders, and would be returned in a few hours. Ten days have passed since then, but the papers and books have still not been returned. 

I understand, of course, the reasons for the frequent visits paid to the camp by KGB officials and also the purpose of their unlawfully conducted interrogations of prisoners and camp workers whom I happen to have associated with, concerning my political views. This is an additional proof of the statement I made earlier — that the charge under Article 199-1 of the Uzbek Criminal Code [equivalent of 190-1 of the RSFSR Code], according to which I have been deprived of freedom, is deliberately false and has been fabricated with the help of KGB officials as a routine way of settling accounts with me, both for my participation in the national campaign of my people to return to their homeland and for my political opinions. 

However, I do not fully understand why the camp administration, which, it would seem, bears the full responsibility for looking after and re-educating law-breakers, should so lightly and eagerly rush to carry out the unlawful instructions and orders of even quite minor KGB officials who try to assume the inquisitorial functions of controllers and supervisors of people’s thoughts and opinions. Are their orders and demands really more important for the camp officials than the provisions of the law? 

Surely, according to the law, if any objects are confiscated from a prisoner, and all the more so if they are to be transferred to other departments, it is compulsory procedure to make out a record of the confiscated objects in which they are described in detail; the reasons for their confiscation should also be stated. If this is not done it is arbitrary lawlessness. 

In this statement I shall not dwell in detail on other illegal actions carried out by KGB officials, who, as I have discovered, have been engaging in excessively blustering and provocative activities with regard to myself, with the help of camp security officials, particularly with the active participation of Yambatarov, head of the security section, and of Sub-Lieutenant Yakhimovich. Statements and materials concerning this subject will be sent to other departments, for I do not believe that your respect for the law will go as far as risking a confrontation with officials of such a powerful organization as the KGB. 

I ask you, nevertheless, to take measures to ensure that all the papers and literature illegally confiscated from me are returned, and if their confiscation is necessary, I insist that it be done in accordance with the provisions of the law. 

M. Dzhemilev 

25 May 1975
City of Omsk, institution UKh 16/3. 

A document entitled “Testimony” — a record of a conversation on 11 February 1975 between KGB officials, two camp officials, and the prisoner V. Dvoryansky — has also become available. As Dvoryansky notes at the end of this document, he made this record on the very same day. 

A KGB man, who did not give his name, told Dvoryansky that he had come in connection with the latter’s complaint to the procurator, but soon he brought the conversation round to the subject of Dzhemilev: 

“You know he has connections with people abroad . . . that he has received letters and telegrams from Sakharov?” 

“I don’t know, he didn’t tell me.” 

“Has he been trying to set up any kind of anti-Soviet group in this camp? Considering that the majority of prisoners are usually opposed to our social system, he has probably been trying to drum up some group support” 

“I don’t know anything about any groups.” 

Security officer Yakhimovich said: “Volodya, if you help us, we’ll help you.”“How and in what way can I help you?” I asked. 

A KGB official: ‘You must get to know Dzhemilev more closely and try to find out everything about him: his links with people outside, which prisoners he associates with, and what he talks to them about. Perhaps you could find out about his connections abroad, and his plans for the future ..." 

The threat of a new trumped-up charge against Dzhemilev gave rise to protests and appeals for him to be helped. 

On 27 June A. D. Sakharov appealed to the UN Secretary-General, Amnesty International and the leaders of Muslim nations, calling on them to save Dzhemilev: “… He is being threatened with a new prison sentence, possibly with death, for he is seriously ill and has declared a hunger-strike.” He recalled that in 1973 international support had saved Andrei Amalrik

Pyotr Grigorevich Grigorenko and Zinaida Mikhailovna Grigorenko issued a protest against the unlawful persecution of Dzhemilev. 

Mustafa’s mother, Makhfide Mustafayeva-Dzhemileva, has appealed to the UN Committee for International Women’s Year. She writes: 

... A fourth sentence is hanging over my son’s head. His guilt consists entirely of his love for our long-suffering nation. Mustafa was a year old when soldiers broke into our house early on the morning of 18 May (1944) and ordered me: "Get your children together and be ready to leave the house in 20 minutes." My five children were asleep and I was then pregnant with the sixth. They pushed us into cattle trucks and took us away... 

People died in those railway wagons. God saved my children. We were thrown out into a wilderness. In two years, we were driven from one place to another, six times. All my brother-in-law’s family died. ... 

My Mustafa grew up in the midst of all this suffering. Once a grown man, he campaigned for our return to the Crimea, the homeland of our people. For this, he is being held in prisons and camps. 

Help me, a mother, in my fight for the release of my son. 

On 9 July 18 Muscovites issued a declaration: “Mustafa Dzhemilev is threatened with a new prison term”. The declaration told the story of how Dzhemilev had been persecuted on various charges, though “in essence because of his constant, unremitting demands that the Crimean Tatar nation should be given back its expropriated homeland.” The declaration states: “A number of cases are already known where the Soviet investigation and court authorities begin a “case” against someone and repeatedly sentence him, not for crimes committed by him, but as a kind of preventive measure ... In this way, for example, “cases” were fabricated in the camps against Anatoly Marchenko, Andrei Amalrik, Vladimir Dremlyuga, Lev Ubozhko …” 

On 31 July, in Samarkand, A. Seimuratova (CCE 20, 23, 31, 34) was interrogated on the orders of the Omsk Procurator’s Office. In addition to a list of questions, the orders included a request “that she hand over letters from M. Dzhemilev in which he makes libellous statements about the Soviet social and political system”. 

Other Crimean Tatars who had corresponded with M. Dzhemilev were subjected to similar interrogations. 

The Moscow lawyer Shveisky [1] has taken on Dzhemilev’s defence. On 19 September they both signed the official form which marks the end of the investigation. On that day Dzhemilev was still on hunger strike. 

[1] At his trial in 1970 Mustafa Dzhemilev refused the services of a defence attorney and represented himself (CCE 12.3). This was, he said, because he did not want any lawyer to risk the same fate as Boris Zolotukhin (CCE 2.1, No 30), barrister to Alexander Ginzburg in January 1968.