During December 9-12, 1975 the LSSR Supreme Court tried the case of S.A. Kovalev.
President of the court panel: LSSR Supreme Court member M. Ignotas. Peoples judges: (Mrs.) Didžiulienė and Tereshin. Secretary: (Mrs) Savinienė. State prosecutor: Assistant Attorney General Bakučionis. The defense attorney was appointed by the court.
Kovalev is charged with violating article 70 of the USSR Criminal Code: he is alleged to have been a member of the organizing group for the defense of human rights and to have written (since 1969) many statements and inquiries: a letter in defense of Grigorenko (1969),
a statement marking the first anniversary of the occupation of Czechoslovakia (1969), in defense of Bukovsky (1971), concerning Yakir and Krasin (1973), an inquiry about the exile of Solzhenitsyn (1974), a letter to the U.N. regarding the Crimean Tartars (1974), a letter to the League for Human Rights concerning Bukovsky (1974). Kovalev is also charged, with transmitting information on Soviet labor camps to the West at the "political prisoners' day" (10/30/74) press conference in Sakharov's apartment. The indictment labels this information "defamatory."
S.A. Kovalev is charged with reviving the publication of the Chronicle of Current Events, with gathering information for, editing and transmitting issues 28 through 34 of the Chronicle of Current Events to foreign countries. The charge is based on material found in Kovalev's possession corresponding to Chronicle material and notations made by Kovalev on certain documents. The charge of transmitting the Chronicle abroad is based on a statement made in May 1974 by S. Kovalev, T. Velikanova and T. Chodorovich regarding their intention to disseminate the Chronicle, as well as on the fact that issues 28-34 of the Chronicle were published by Kronika Press in New York.
Kovalev is charged with having three issues of the Chronicle of the Catholic Church in Lithuania in his possession and using them in the Chronicle of Current Events.
Kovalev is also charged with distributing The Gullag Archipelago by A.I. Solzhenitsyn. A photostatic copy of this book and part of a typewritten copy were found in his home. This charge is based on the fact that the book was confiscated from V. Meresin, who was attempting to photograph it, and given to the security police, and also on Kovalev's letter to Andropov (October 1974) demanding the return of his book.
Kovalev denied being guilty of any of the charges made against him and refused to answer the judge's question: "Does he agree with the facts as presented in the indictment?"
Kovalev requested three things at the beginning of the trial:
1. Permission to use the text of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
2. To call to the stand a list of witnesses, among them Krasin and Yakir.
3. To engage either S.V. Kalistratov or D.I. Kaminskaya as defense counsel.
Kovalev personally and through his wife asked for these lawyers both during preliminary interrogations and later. His requests were turned down on the pretext that these lawyers did not have licenses and for other reasons.
The court rejected all of Kovalev's requests, except to call Krasin as witness.
Kovalev refused the services of his court appointed lawyer. The court invited Kovalev to speak. The accused stated that he did not speak during the preliminary interrogation and refused to be present at interrogations because he considered them illegal and criminal. He made an exception in expressing his opinion when objective facts were examined.
Kovalev asserted that it would be logical to continue maintaining this position during the trial because in such proceedings persons are tried not for crimes but for their convictions. He would however participate in the proceedings as regards the question of whether the letters and the Chronicle contain deceitful statements, but would not answer questions about when and by whom those and other documents were written.
When stating his opinion of the letters and the Chronicle, Kovalev called them useful and not against the law. He stated that regretfully there are mistakes in the Chronicle of Current Events, agrees to help analyze the mistakes and has evidence that they were merely mistakes and not conscious lies.
During the second day of the trial (December 10), twenty-two witnesses were called to the stand.
Doctor L.A. Liubarskaya of the Dnepropetrovsk specialized psychiatric hospital was questioned about the detention and therapy of Pliushch at the hospital. The judge conducted the cross-examination based on facts presented in the 34th issue of the Chronicle. Dr. Liubarskaya replied that everything in the hospital was performed according to instructions.
Kovalev had asserted that the Soviet Union uses psychiatric hospitals for the purpose of taking care of those who think differently and stated that he was not allowed to defend himself by presenting his witnesses. The court rejected Kovale^'s request to call as witnesses Zhitnikova, the wife of Pliushch.
Assistant Chief of Staff A. A. Kozhemaichina, of the Moscow area Chekhov rayon psychiatric hospital, testified about the detention of P.G. Grigorenko at the psychiatric hospital. The judge overruled an entire list of questions from Kovalev to the witnesses. Among others, the following questions remained unanswered: "In what way had Grigorenko's health improved at the time of his discharge?"
As for the news printed in the 32nd issue of the Chronicle on the detention of Chantsy at the hospital and prison, the following were called as witnesses: Doctor B.V. Polkin of the Kirov area main psychiatric hospital and Chief Controller (Administrator) of the Kirov Internal Affairs Office, LP. Kaftaniuk. The judge read a statement by Chantsy (from trial transcript) that during his imprisonment he was beaten and crippled, that he was confined seven times in punishment cells and afterwards in solitary confinement. Administrator Kaftaniuk remarked: "The Kirov city prison does not have solitary confinement cells, and it is physically impossible to survive punishment cells seven times."
Several other Chronicle episodes were examined. The witnesses —Gudas, a bulldozer operator from the Kaunas Rayon lumber mill and Skhvortsova from Arkhangelsk—denied in part certain statements in theChronicle. The judge overruled most of Kovalev's questions to the witnesses.
Witness G.E. Khoroleva from Moscow testified that once when she stopped in at a relative's apartment, which had been rented to Velikhanova, she found a folder containing letters from convicted individuals and notified the security police after deciding that the contents of the folder were suspicious.
A group of witnesses (V.N. Chikhina, V.A. Garbatov, J.L. Dob-rachev, V. M. Meresin) was questioned about the photocopying of Solzhenitsyn's book The Gulag Archipelago. According to their testimony, Garbatov allowed Dobrachev, to photograph Schweitzer's book in the laboratory. Meresin assisted Dobrachev, and when he left, the assistant began to photograph The Gulag Archipelago. This was discovered by Garbatov who had been called by Chikhina; he took the book and the film and later gave them to the security police.
Mereska refused to answer the question of who owned the Gulag Archipelago book, which was being photographed, and stated that he was acting thus for purely moral reasons.
When speaking about the witnesses, V.F. Turchin stated that he is long and well acquainted with Kovalev and is convinced that Kovalev could not have been involved in the dissemination of any defamatory documents.
After questioning the last witness V. Turchin and hearing both sides (Prosecutor Bakučionis agreed to dismiss the witnesses, but Kovalev protested), Judge M. Ignotas ruled that the witnesses were free to go and called a recess.
The witnesses Boitsova, Turchin, Litvinov, Jasinovskaya, Me-resin and Mizjakin remained in their seats. They were repeatedly asked to leave the courtroom on grounds that is was necessary to ventilate the facility. The captain of the guard even quoted the court's ruling. The witnesses were astonished that permission to leave the courtroom was considered to be an order, especially since such a ruling by the court is against the Code of Criminal Procedure. The demands of the witnesses had no impact and preparations were made to expel them by force. Then Turchin exacted a promise from the captain that they would be allowed to return to the courtroom after the recess. Then the witnesses left the courtroom Just a few minutes before the end of the recess, the captain left the Supreme Court building. After the recess no one, except L. Boitsova, was allowed into the courtroom. Uniformed guards forcibly pushed them away from the doors against "the people", who had begun to file into the courtroom; "the people" unanimously protested the "Muscovites' rowdiness." M.M. Litvinov (a witness) and J.F. Orlov attempted to enter the courtroom, but were led away to a special room and threatened with arrest "for resisting state officials." An hour later they were released.
As Kovalev was being ledfrom the courtroom he saw that most of the witnesses had remained in their seats. After the recess, he heard noise and the sound of arguing at the door and, seeing that of the witnesses only Boitsova was in the courtroom, he stated that he would not remain in the courtroom so long as all the witnesses were not allowed into the courtroom and would go on a hunger strike until the witnesses and all who wished were allowed to enter the courtroom, and he demanded to be led out. The judge called a recess until December 11 at 10 A.M
V. Turchin, V. Meresin, M. Litvinov, A. Mizjakin and F. Jasinovskaya wrote a statement to the President of the LSSR Supreme Court regarding the illegal expulsion of the witnesses from the courtroom and, on the basis of article 313 of the LSSR Code of Criminal Procedure, demanded that they be allowed to stay in the courtroom until the end of the trial. All the witnesses were granted permission to be in court.
On the morning of December 11th, Kovalev recounted yesterday's incident with the witnesses and demanded the following:
"1. That all witnesses who so desire be guaranteed attendance in the courtroom and that I personally or through my wife and other witnesses be given the opportunity to ascertain that others truly did not wish to attend the proceedings.
"2. That attendance in the courtroom be guaranteed for A.D. Sakharov, T.M. Velikhanova, A.P. Lavut, M.N. Landa, V.A. Reku-bratsky, J.F. Orlov and my other friends who have expressed the wish to attend my trial and will be named by my wife and other witnesses, with the following condition: I must be allowed the opportunity to ask whether all who wished to attend were allowed to do so.
"3. That the trial examine the question, which does not appear in trial material, of how, in similar cases, the principle of public trial is violated in a frequent and organized manner. Also, with this in mind, that all persons named by me be called as witnesses, as well as those who came to my trial, about whom I do not yet know, but who will be named by witnesses.
"4. Of course, I am demanding that this statement be included in the dossier of this trial.
"For my part, I regret the expressions used at the time of the incident which though literary are still offensive, I am prepared to apologize to the court in the presence of all participants and express my thoughts in less sharp words. The most appropriate wording would be as follows:
"A limit must be placed on your cynical arbitrary rulings. I reject and refuse to be among persons who willfully break the law and among those who help them. I, of course, realize that an apology does not wipe out punishment for the offense. In that case, if my modest and limited demands are not met, I will continue my hunger strike until the end of the trial and will, of course, not return to the courtroom.
"If the court so easily dispenses with a defense lawyer, it will also easily conclude the case without the accused.
"I can only add this: I will be very distressed if my requests are not met, because I was prepared to present the court with important evidence of my innocence, without expecting, for that matter a just ruling. And so I will be distressed if, in the event my requests are not granted, I do not have the possibility to do this. But what can be done!?"
The judge announced that the witnesses who arrived that day and asked to be admitted to the courtroom were present. Others had left for home. The question of the attendance of other persons is not a procedural matter and is left to the decision of the court bailiff. The judicial panel rejected defendant Kovalev's request which he made in his statement.
Kovalev urgently maintained that the principle of a public trial is a procedural principle and its referral to the court bailiff was unfounded. He demanded that all his requests be granted or that he be immediately led from the courtroom. As he was being escorted out, Kovalev addiessed the witnesses sitting in the first row and said: "All my love to you and all those outside the doors and in Moscow. Warm wishes to Andrei Dimitrijevich (Sacharov)!"
After consulting among themselves, the judicial panel decided to expel Kovalev from the courtroom and try his case without him.
The court began to examine the evidence. The employment references of Kovalev from the University where he was employed until 1969, as well as from the Moscow Fisheries-Land Improvement Experimental Station (1970-1974) were read. The references contained information about his academic credentials.
The judge listed the documents: statements and letters written by Kovalev; transcripts of the trials of Yakir and Krasin containing the statement that, along with other individuals, Kovalev was a member of the organizing group; an open letter listing the goals and tasks of the organizing group; an appeal to the 5th Psychiatric Congress stating that medicine in the Soviet Union is used for purposes of repression; a detailed transcript of documents seized during the search, among them: various letters and materials from prisons, documents on arrests and trial proceedings, a list of convicted persons, letters from labor camps: copies of the Chronicle of Current Events and the Chronicle of the Catholic Church in Lithuania; various documents on the Russian Orthodox Church in the Georgian Republic; "the reaction of Muscovites" to Solzhenitsyn's exile; the note: "We ask that this information be relayed to international organizations that have as their announced goal the defense of human rights, on the basis of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights"; an appeal to the International Committee for the Protection of Human Rights, the Human Rights League and Amnesty International.
According to handwriting experts, a number of handwritten texts, as well as comments on various typewritten documents, were written by Kovalev.
The prosecutor asked to introduce certain documents which may have significant importance as evidence: comparison charts regarding the similarity of material taken from Kovalev and Korolev to material published in the Chronicle.
The judicial panel rejected Kovalev's request to call witnesses and to make public the testimony of Doctor Bochkovska of the Dnepropetrovsk psychiatric hospital during preliminary interrogations. It differed in certain details from the trial testimony of Doctor Liubarskaya.
This ended the presentation of courtroom evidence and the court began to hear opposing arguments.
Kovalev sent the court a statement that he would not retreat one step from his demands. Kovalev wrote: "I consider and will continue to consider my participation at these proceedings to be in my interest since I prepared for them extensively. As before, I felt I did not act properly. It is you who provoked me by expelling the witnesses. Under different circumstances I would not have made such demands. Because it has become so common to break the law during trials of similar cases, I tend to view my actions as imperative. I would also have acted similarly for the sake of a meaningful participation in the trial. Regrets about the conflict which occurred are no longer appropriate. I will not alter my demands. I will not break my hunger strike!
The state prosecutor spoke without the presence of either the accused or the defense attorney.
The prosecutor again enumerated the letters and statements written by Kovalev, proving that they were authored by Kovalev solely because they exist, solely because they were published in some issue of theChronicle, or even broadcast by foreign radio stations such as Radio Liberty, the BBC and the Voice of America. The content of the documents was not examined. Prosecutor Baku-cionis stated: "The Soviet Government is not interested in a person's convictions; it is interested in his keeping them to himself and not committing crimes. In documents which he (Kovalev) signed, one idea stands out: to impose on the Soviet individual a bourgeois understanding of freedom, trying to portray freedom as independence from the community." The prosecutor spoke of the growing danger to our community of such activity as undertaken by Kovalev, and, seeing no mitigating circumstances, he asked for a sentence of seven years in strict regime camps and an additional three years of exile.
The prosecutor pointed to the attitude of witness Meresin during the trial when he testified to where he had obtained the book The Gulag Archipelago.
After the prosecutor's summation, the presiding judge announced that the court would begin deliberating the verdict. This lasted nearly a day. About an hour before the end of deliberations, Kovalev was asked in prison whether he would make a final statement. Kovalev refused. The court made public his refusal without comment before reading its finding on December 12th.
The verdict was "guilty on all charges". On the subjective side, based on the context of the documents themselves and on the fact that they were used in foreign propaganda, Kovalev was found guilty of intending (he personally denied this) to undermine or at least to weaken the Soviet government.
The sentence. Seven years in a strict regime labor camp and three years in exile.
The verdict is final and cannot be appealed. In a related ruling, the court handed the prosecutor documents on Meresin's refusal to testify.
Vilnius during the Trial of S. Kovalev
Kovalev's preliminary interrogation and trial took place not in Moscow, but in Vilnius, although he was tried under article 70 of the USSR Criminal Code. The government clearly wanted as few trial witnesses as possible.
Kovalev is a well-known defender of human rights, a brave fighter on behalf of persecuted Soviet Union citizens, among them, Lithuanian Catholics.
Lithuanians, especially the faithful, could not remain indifferent to these shameful trial proceedings which are used to condemn a man who defends basic human rights: the freedoms of speech, press and conscience. They remember the Gospel words ; "I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was imprisoned and you came to see me." Therefore, people from various parts of Lithuania came to the trial, wishing to see with their own eyes the person who dared stand up to "the powerful of this world" and defend the persecuted. After learning of the upcoming trial, the faithful ardently prayed the Lord to grant their benefactor strength.
Both the Supreme Court and the security police painstakingly prepared for this trial. It was clear that Kovlev's relatives and friends would come to Vilnius and that the trial proceedings would unavoidably resound throughout the world. The judge's role in such a trial is unenviable. On the one hand, a conviction must be attained under all circumstances. On the other, the judge must look objective, keep to established procedure and grant the accused all the rights provided under law. But how can he incriminate the security agencies which kept Kovalev in an interrogation prison for an entire year? Therefore, all Supreme Court judges tried to shirk this trial to the best of their ability. After lengthy disputes, this shameful mission was entrusted to the secretary of the Supreme Court party organization, Judge Ignotas.
Up to two or three weeks before the trial certain Vilnius dissidents were summoned to the Military Commissariat or the security police where security agents waited for them. The agents forced those who were summoned, by either persuasion or threats, to promise they would not attend the upcoming trial. The head of the thermo-isolation scientific group Juozas Prapiestis was summoned to the Vilnius Military Commissariat at the beginning of November. The security agent who spoke with him warned him not to attend Kovalev's trial. Other friends of Prapiestis also had talks with security agents.
Before the trial began, calls were made to places of employment asking that certain individuals be assigned to work the first shift.
On the morning of December 9th, several known disidents arrived by train from Moscow, as did Kovalev's relatives, his wife, son and brother. There also arrived Academician Sakharov, the president of the Moscow Amnesty International group Turchin, Armenian Academician Orlov and his wife, Litvinov and his wife, and others. Correspondent M. Levi of the Canadian newspaper "Toronto Star" also arrived with his wife after receiving permission. There were about twenty persons in all. Undoubtedly some did not succeed in leaving Moscow.
KGB agents detained T. Belikanova, T. Chodorovich and M. Landa on their way to the Byelorrussian station. They were detained several hours in security offices, charged with ridiculous crimes, which were not even mentioned later, and, after being warned not to attempt to leave, were released after the train to Vilnius had already left
On the eve of the trial, several Jews who had not yet been allowed to emigrate, were informed that their cases were being reviewed, and five were allowed to leave. One condition was set: they were not to attend the trial. Vilnius dissidents were not able to come to meet the Muscovites. The Vilnius dissidents—A. Terleckas, V. Petkus, V. Smolkinas—had barely appeared on the station platform when they were immediately arrested by security agents and taken one by one to security headquarters. And so, the flowers intended for S. Kovalev's wife and Academician Sakharov wilted in the security headquarter trash basket.
The people from Vilnius were arrested without any warrant. When those who were arrested demanded the reason for the arrest and the document sanctioning their arrest shown them, the chekists evaded the questions, promising that everything would be explained at security headquarters and that all documents were there. This was a lie. No documents sanctioning the arrest turned up there, either.
Because the people from Vilnius did not hide their reason for coming to the railway station, each was individually berated for improper conduct by the chekists at security headquarters, they were threatened with imprisonment and even prosecution if they attempted to attend the trial. Colonels Kruglov, Baltinas and Cesnavi-£ius assured them that Academician Sakharov was mentally ill, while the other Moscow dissidents were immoral individuals. They explained that Lithuanian dissidents were not known abroad; therefore, the world would be silent regarding their arrest. They threatened that a place had already been prepared for Terleckas and after him for Petkus at the Vilnius psychiatric hospital. They were asked if they did not want to emigrate to the West.
Upon being brought to security headquarters, Vilnius resident V. Smolkinas immediately wrote a complaint to the Attorney General, that unknown characters had forcibly pushed him into a "Volga" and brought him to security offices, did not present a warrant from the Attorney General's office and refused to explain until they had corroborated his statement. Therefore, they discussed only hunting and fishing with him.
The same afternoon, one after another, all three Vilnius residents were released. The time of their release coincided with the end of the trial deliberations.
Thus, even before the trial had begun, the chekists demonstrated their contempt for all human rights and showed that laws protecting individual freedoms did not apply to them.
Because no one met the Moscow dissidents on their arrival, Academician Sakharov and his son-in-law J. Jankelevich were invited to stay at the apartment of Vilnius resident Etan Finkelstein who had returned from Moscow on the same train. Finkelstein is a graduate of Gorky University, and for the past five vears had been asking permission to emigrate to Israel. Academician Sakharov stayed at his apartment. The other arrivals scattered among Vilnius residents whose addresses they had obtained beforehand.
The situation was hopeless for those who wanted to attend the trial. All entrances were guarded by security agents who admitted no one, except for officials. Among the security agents, who were everywhere—in the court building and its immediate surroundings—, could be seen security police Major J. Trakimas, the "boss and guardian" of all former and present political prisoners, and other security officials.
Academician Sakharov and his friends came to the Supreme Court building before ten o'clock. Security auxiliaries did not admit them into the courtroom.
After being turned back from the courtroom, Acad. A. Sakharov addressed the Supreme Court President. He wrote the following in his statement:
"Since I have known Kovalev for many years, I can testify at the trial about his exceptional honor and integrity, about his devotion to law, justice, the defense of human rights and public access to information. I demonstrated my deep respect for Kovalev when I invited him as guest of honor to the December 10, 1975 Nobel Prize award ceremonies in Oslo.
"I know that Kovalev is charge with transmitting to the foreign press information made public at the October 30, 1974, press conference which I called on the situation of political prisoners in the Soviet Union. This information was in fact transmitted by me. I take full responsibility for these deeds and wish to state this at the trial.
"I am also the co-author of the letter, presented as evidence, to KGB Chairman Andropov, which demanded the return of S. Kovalev's copy of the Gulag Archipelago.
"I participated in formulating many of the joint inquiries with which Kovalev is charged, as if they were defamatory. Such a portrayal of our joint inquiries is unjust in my view and I wish to explain and present my views at the trial."
Canadian correspondent M. Levi was also refused admission into the courtroom. He was unsuccessful in maintaining that Soviet correspondents in Canada are allowed to attend trials and that agreements were signed in Helsinki regarding non-interference with the work of journalists.
Only those with special permits were allowed into the courtroom. Even Supreme Court employees were admitted only with employee passes with photographs which had been issued on the eve of the trial. One court employee forgot her pass, was unceremoniously searched and, only after convincing them that she really worked there, was admitted inside. Others who came to the trial were either told to go home or were taken to the security police by the chekists.
It was easier for those whom security officials and their agents did not know personally. They were able to enter the court vestibule and meet with both Lithuanians and Muscovites who were there and to congregate near the courtroom door. Security officials glared at all of them angrily. But they were not intimidated and patiently waited in the court corridors.
One unknown woman brought hidden flowers into the vestibule and after uncovering them, presented them to Nobel Peace Prize winner Academician A. Sakharov, who gratefully accepted them and said: "These flowers really belong to my friend Sergei. It is he who is fighting and suffering more for your rights." The woman left in tears and all present clearly remember the Nobel Prize winner's tender gaze and the flowers from the Lithuanian woman clutched to his breast which he later presented to Kovalev's wife.
Some time later, a group from Šiauliai approached, to which two "teachers from Jonava" and a "sailor from Klaipėda" attached themselves. These new arrivals were not stopped by the chekists. The "teachers" tried very actively to establish contact with Academician Sakharov and other Muscovites, offered to look after them and even had their picture taken with them. However, even before the end of the trial proceedings, the "teachers" were unmasked. One of them, Zajančauskas, turned out to be a security agent formerly from Druskininkai, now employed by security headquarters in Vilnius.
On the first day of the trial, only Kovalev's brother was admitted into the courtroom. The trial lasted four days. Academician Sakharov and other dissidents came daily to the court building, but they were not admitted into the courtroom.
From the second day of the trial, efforts were made to keep away from the court building all Lithuanians who were suspected of wishing to gain entrance, and those who did gain entrance were expelled. The court vestibule and corridors were patrolled by over twenty plainclothes and uniformed security policemen. "Operations" were almost constantly directed by Colonels Kruglov and Baltinas.
The second day of the trail, Šiauliai resident Mečislovas Jurevičius was barred by a security agent as he was approaching the court building, and it was suggested that they talk "farther away from the door, around the corner," so that persons in the vestibule, among them the Muscovites, could not see how they were going to deal with him. Seeing that Jurevičius was not going "around the corner," they began to threaten him on the spot. Then two more security agents came from the vestibule and together they dragged Jurevičius into a car.
After taking Jurevičius to security headquarters (Lenino g. 40), they took his personal documents and began interrogating him : What was his purpose in coming to Vilnius? Perhaps to gather information for the Chronicle of the Catholic Church in Lithuania? Who else had come with him from Šiauliai and from Kuršėnai? Where did he learn of S. Kovalev's trial? Where had he dined the night before? Had he met with Academician Sakharov? Jurevičius replied that this was his personal business. Security officials began to berate Jurevičius: "What do you all want with this trial?" After all, Kovalev and Sakharov are non-believers and so on. They threatened Jurevičius with prosecution for having written many articles for the Chronicle and for probably reporting this conversation in the Chronicle.
Jurevičius replied that he had no intention of hiding from anyone this detention and conversation with security agents and that, therefore, this information will be able to reach the Chronicle without him.
Security agent Urbanavičius stated that he had read the Chronicle of the Catholic Church in Lithuania,but did not like the statements by priests, articles about N. Sadūnaitė and so on.
During the interrogation, he was told that the security police would find him employment (Jurevičius had been fired because of his religious beliefs: he would not work on religious holidays), that he could still celebrate Christmas, but would have to work on the Feast of the Three Kings.
Jurevičius replied that he would already have found employment on his own, but had been fired from his position as worker, and was not hired as manager. Then Security Agent Baltrušaitis "explained" that Jurevičius was not qualified for a position in management because of "political immaturity."
At the end of the interrogation, the security agents stated that they would now take Jurevičius to the railway station and would place him on the Šiauliai train; he was not to attempt showing his face in Vilnius for a week or he would be harshly punished. When Jurevičius replied that he would still come to Vilnius, the agents said, "Well, then we'll give you an escort." And so Jurevičius was taken to the railway station with his "party," was placed on a train and sent off to Šiauliai.
On the eve of the trial, A. Terleckas, an employee of the Opera and Ballet Theater, was fired from his job. He worked as a fireman at the theater. Now he was unemployed and looked after the needs of the dissidents. Although the chekists seriously threatened him and demanded that he stay away from the trial, he did not obey. He was saved from an incident and arrest by visiting dissidents and the Canadian journalist, who never left his side.
When Kęstutis Jokubynas came to the Supreme Court building, he was approached by Col. Baltinas who demanded that he leave the building. Jokubynas refused. The agents decided against using force in the presence of the Moscow dissidents and foreign correspondents.
Virgilijus Jaugelis attempted to enter the courtroom, but was approached by one of the patrolling security agents and ordered to leave. Jaugelis continued to stand near the courtroom door. He was then led away and punished with a fifteen days arrest for "insulting and disobeying a security policeman." During the interrogation a security agent struck Jaugelis several times in the throat with his fist with such force that later Jaugelis could hardly speak. Then Jaugelis wrote a complaint to the District Attorney. The investigating committee ruled that no signs of a beating were found, only that Jaugelis spoke in a low voice. Several days later, Jaugelis was released for reasons of health.
During the trial, the Nobel Peace Prize ceremonies were held in Norway. Sakharov, whom the government did not allow to leave the country, was represented by his wife. Sakharov tried two evenings to telephone Oslo from Vilnius, but was not successful. The Vilnius Central Post Office took the call, but it was not completed.
Late in the evening, as Academician Sakharov, his son-in-law, Terleckas and another Muscovite, were walking to the post office, they were attacked by hoodlums. Terleckas was struck several times in the face, but the Muscovites were only verbally abused. The apartment where the dissidents met in the evening was under strict surveillance. During the entire trial, an unoccupied car stood next to the apartment's entrance. The building was constantly surrounded by suspicious characters. Farther up the street, passenger cars were on constant surveillance duty. Persons entering the apartment were openly photographed. "Private" cars which always appeared whenever someone came out of the apartment offered their services.
The organist of the SS Peter and Paul Church received a telephone call from an alleged friend of Academician Sakharov who offered his services if the organist wanted to send something to Moscow.
It was announced that the court's ruling would be read on December 12th at 2 P.M. In fact, the ruling was read at 1:30 p.m. and the witnesses who arrived late were not admitted into the courtroom. The dissidents waited in the building foyer. Academician Sakharov expressed his dismay at such a harsh ruling to the Canadian journalist. The "public" which exited the courtroom after attending the trial with special permits, surrounded the dissidents and began to ridicule and berate them. Among them "poet" Keidosius tried especially hard. The chekists, Col. Krugov and others, were not to be outdone. Lithuanian dissdents protested the fact that the ruling had been made in the name of the Lithuanian nation.
Keidošius and the chekists shouted that only they represent the Lithuanian nation.
Pushing his way from the court building, Sakharov ran up to the standing "crow" (prison vehicle — Ed. Note) and began to pound with his fist, shouting "Bravo, Seriosha!" When the security agents protested the Academician retorted: "This car is only as strong as your government!"
In the evening, a group of Vilnius residents said farewell to Adademician Sakharov and some of the dissidents at the railway station.
The next day several Lithuanian women brought flowers to Kovalev's wife.
On December 14th Kovalev's wife was allowed to visit her husband. She told him about the flowers she had received and the good wishes sent him by Vilnius residents. Sergei Kovalev seemed in good health and spirits. The court verdict did not depress him. His only regret was that for several years he would not be able to contribute to the struggle for human rights.
Thus, Kovalev's "open" trial was conducted in such an atmosphere.
On December 12th, while awaiting the court's ruling, Kovalev's friends (A. Sakahrov, V. Turchin, I. Orlov and others) wrote a statement in which they described in detail why and how Kovalev was tried, and what atmosphere and with what deviations from legal standards the trial was conducted. The statement contains the following:
"We declare that Kovalev's trial is a travesty against an honorable and brave man who has sacrificed so much for all the world's inhabitants by defending justice, the free exchange of information and due process."
After Kovalev's trial 174 Soviet dissidents from fifteen cities signed a statement demanding freedom for the accused:
"On December 12, 1975, the well-known scientist, biologist and active participant in the world-wide movement for human rights, Sergei Kovalev, was sentenced to seven years in strict regime labor camps and three years in exile.
"In his public activity for which he was brought to trial, Kovalev always fought against illegality and injustice and endangered himself on behalf of those persecuted for their beliefs. A high-minded opponent of force, he fought with words: by public protest, wide-spread and accurate information. He is one of those who publicly declared they were responsible for the dissemination of the Chronicle of Current Affairs. For this, he was convicted as "an especially dangerous criminal."
"During the trial Kovalev attempted to defend the Chronicle, and the struggle for human rights against charges of defamation and an anti-government position. By brutally violating the principle of a public trial and trial standards, the court forced Kovalev to refuse further participation in the trial.
"There was a clear tendency to hide these proceedings from the public, to make them actually secret. The purpose of such proceedings and rulings is clear: attempts are made to break us of the habit of responsible citizenship and of active sympathy and help for those whose rights are violated. Attempts are made to return us to the days when similar proceedings were upheld as a matter of course, when not a single voice was heard in protest.
"We believe that the shameful suicidal era will not repeat itself in our country. We demand an end to the repression of the exchange of ideas and information.
"We demand an end to persecution against those who defend human rights and persons who become victims of political repression.
"We demand that the conviction of Kovalev be overturned."
Among those who signed the above statement are many persons well-known to Lithuanians: A. Sakharov, A. Almarik, E. Boner-Sakharova, N. Bukovsky, T. Velikanova, Grigorenko, Dvasin, D. Dudko, R. Medvedev, I. Orlov, V. Turchin, T. Chidorovich, L. Chiukovskaya, A. Terleckas, V. Petkus and others.
On December 18, the 1975 Nobel Peace Prize Winner Academician Sakharov spoke at a press conference for foreign journalists:
"At the start of this press conference, I would first like to stress that Kovalev was convicted for defending, as dictated by his conscience, other men who he believed had become the victims of injustice . . . The charge did not prove either his intention to undermine the Soviet government or the defamatory nature of his actions. The trial was manifestly illegal: not public, without opposing
arguments, without a defense attorney or the defendant, without a final statement. Almost like a Stalin-era "troika!" Or, to use a more modern comparison, like a labor camp trial. . .
"The trial dealt with seven charges which the court attempted to use to prove the defamatory nature of theChronicle. When we wrote the December 12th statement, we did not have on hand any of the Chronicle texts used in court as evidence. Today we can assert that in only one or two insignificant instances did the court succeed in casting doubt on the truth of the news in the Chronicle.
"Kovalev's arrest and trial is a warning to Soviet and world public opinion. After Helsinki and at the time of the Nobel Prize award ceremonies, the government clearly wished to make a show of strength and force, allowing even our own laws to be held in contempt.
"To leave this warning unanswered would mean the betrayal of a noble man and of vital principles on which so much depends. To demand that Kovalev's conviction be overturned—that is the only possible answer."
S. Kovalev's sacrifice served Lithuania well.
The trial proceedings and persecutions demonstrated that the Lithuanian and Russian nations can be drawn closer together by the actions of the security police.
The Catholics of Lithuania are grateful to Kovalev for his noble humane heart and pray the Almighty to grant him perseverence, health and countless blessings. The sacrifices of Russian dissidents have helped Lithuanians see the Russian nation in a new light.
When he returns from prison, we will greet the Russian scientist S. Kovalev as a brother and great friend.