Courtesy Reuters

Protest in Moscow

On January 8, 1968, in the dingy halls of the Moscow City Court, four relatively unknown young Soviet citizens went on trial for anti-Soviet agitation and propaganda. On January 12 they were convicted and sentenced to labor camp for terms ranging from one to seven years. On the same day the first of a number of petitions, appeals and protests relating to the trial and to the general issue of civil rights in the Soviet Union was signed and circulated throughout Moscow by members of the Soviet intellectual Establishment. By early April the attitudes which this documentation represented had precipitated a distinct hardening in the official cultural policy of the régime.

In the months since the trial the texts of a number of protest documents reached the West and were published in various newspapers and journals. By the end of April, at least twenty separate documents had become available, all relating to the January 8-12 trial of Aleksandr Ginzburg, Yuri Galanskov, Alexei Dobrovol'skiy and Vera Lashkova, and to the closely related detention of the mathematician Aleksandr Yesenin-Volpin. There were reports of a number of other documents circulating in the Soviet Union, but it was not clear how many of them were related to the Moscow trial rather than to other currently active sources of discontent such as the arrests of Leningrad University people during 1967, the trials and imprisonment of Ukrainian intellectuals since 1965, and the persecution of a growing number of Soviet Baptists.

Taken together, the twenty documents in hand comprise about fifty pages of typescript, legal size, in cyrillic. There are over four hundred signers, including full names and occupations. Most of the documents are dated in January or February. Addresses of the signers are given in some instances, and it is clear that an effort has been made to avoid any concealment of personal responsibility. With four exceptions-Leningrad, Novosibirsk, a collective farm in the Baltic and a small town on the Volga-all of the documents originated in Moscow. Most of the signers

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