A May 1969 Appeal to the UN Commission on Human Rights

posted 24 Apr 2017, 06:12 by Rights in Russia   [ updated 24 Apr 2017, 06:20 ]
The 8th issue of the Chronicle of Current Events reported that the Action Group for Human Rights in the USSR delivered an appeal to the Moscow office of the United Nations. It was addressed to the UN Commission on Human Rights. 

Most of those who put their names to this document are no longer with us. The exception is Mustafa DZHEMILEV, then exiled, like most Crimean Tatars, to Uzbekistan.



On 20 May 1969, a letter was sent to the UN Commission on Human Rights with a request that it examine violations in the Soviet Union of one of the basic human rights — the right to hold independent beliefs or convictions and to propagate them by any lawful means.

The letter pointed out that people in our country are being prosecuted in political trials for slandering the Soviet State and social system, either with the intent (Article 70 of Russian Criminal Code) or without the intent (Article 190) of undermining the Soviet system. None of the accused, in fact, has attempted to slander, still less to undermine, the Soviet system. People have been convicted on fabricated charges, in effect for their "beliefs". "You are not being tried for your beliefs" — the letter exposes the falsehood of this favourite phrase of the judges by referring to a series of trials:
  • Andrei Sinyavsky and Yuly Daniel [January 1966]; 
  • Alexander Ginzburg and Yury Galanskov [January 1968]; 
  • Victor Khaustov and Vladimir Bukovsky [1967]; 
  • Those who took part in the 25 August 1968 Red Square demonstration [October 1968]; 
  • Anatoly Marchenko, Irina Belogorodskaya, Yury Gendler and Lev Kvachevsky
  • in Ukraine, including that of Vyacheslav Chornovil [November 1967]; 
  • of Crimean Tatars; 
  • in the Baltic States, particularly that of Victor Kalnins and others; 
  • of Soviet Jews demanding permission to emigrate to Israel, e.g. that of Boris Kochubievsky (CCE 8.1); 
  • and of religious believers. 
The letter mentions the recent arrests of Victor Kuznetsov, Ivan Yakhimovich, P. G. Grigorenko and Ilya Gabai and it refers to "a particularly inhuman form of persecution — the placing of normal people in psychiatric hospitals because of their political convictions."

This letter was signed by the Action Group for the Defence of Human Rights in the USSR [their surnames are given in Russian alphabetical order]:
  • Genrikh ALTUNYAN (engineer, Kharkov) 
  • Vladimir BORISOV (worker, Leningrad) 
  • Tatyana VELIKANOVA (mathematician) 
  • Natalya GORBANEVSKAYA (poet) 
  • Mustafa DZHEMILEV (worker, Tashkent) 
  • Sergei KOVALEV (biologist) 
  • Victor KRASIN (economist) 
  • Alexander LAVUT (mathematician) 
  • Anatoly LEVITIN-KRASNOV (church writer) 
  • Yury MALTSEV (translator) 
  • Leonid PLYUSHCH (mathematician, Kiev) 
  • Grigory PODYAPOLSKY (scientific research worker) 
  • Tatyana KHODOROVICH (linguist) 
  • Pyotr YAKIR (historian) and 
  • Anatoly YAKOBSON (translator). 

There are a further 38 signatures of support following the appeal.

Staff at the UN Office in Moscow refused to accept the letter, declaring that they did not accept anything from private individuals. The letter was sent by post and handed to foreign correspondents.

On 30 June, the Action Group sent an additional letter with information on "new, particularly painful facts about the violation of human rights: the new case brought against Anatoly Marchenko; and imminent trials, aimed at shutting dissenters away within the walls of prison psychiatric hospitals."