Vladimir Bukovsky's testimony 

on human rights in the USSR 

 

before the Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe. 95th Congress, first session on implementation of the Helsinki Accords, Volue 1, 87-587. 

February 23 and 24, 1977. 

Chairman FASCELL: Our next witness - it is a great privilege and an honor today to have Mr. Vladimir Bukovsky as a second witness for the Commission today. With him is Dr. Yuri Olkhovsky, who will help us as an interpreter this morning.

 

In the years between his arrest in March of 1971 and his release last December, Mr. Bukovsky attracted by his courage the admiration and support of thousands of people in the West. His conduct ever since his first arrest in 1963 has come to symbolize the determination of Soviet civil rights advocates to speak their own minds, and the strength of character that sustained such a determination.

 

For many years his voice was one of many that the Soviet authorities did not want the West to hear, and so today we are fortunate that we do have the opportunity to hear him.

 

Mr. Bukovsky, you have a prepared statement, will you proceed. 

 

STATEMENT OF VLADIMIR BUKOVSKY

 

Mr. BUKOVSKY: Thank you. Mr. Chairman, members of the Commission. I would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone of the many people in the United States who have worked for my release from Soviet prison. Over the decades during which the Soviet regime has existed, a number of international agreements on the need to observe human rights have been concluded. I do not intend now to analyze in detail the qualities and deficiencies of each of them, but I wish to make clear that the essence is not the quality of the agreements themselves but how far Western countries are ready to insist on their fulfillment. The last in the series of the agreements was the Final Act of the Conference on European Security and Cooperation which, despite its obvious drawbacks, contains a number of clauses obligating all its signatories, including the Soviet Union and East European countries, to respect the rights of their own citizens.

 

However, from the very beginning, the Soviet Union had no intention to fulfill this part of the agreement, attempting to relieve itself of all obligations by referring to its sovereign rights.

 

The Soviet Union's attitude to the West and, consequently, to co-operation with the West, is easily shown by the example of article of the Russian Federation's criminal code (and the equivalent articles in the codes of the various Union Republics).

 

According to this article, any citizen of the U.S.S.R., trying to escape from the Soviet Union or refusing to return to it, is considered a traitor and is on the same footing as a deserter who has gone over to the enemy. Such a person may be punished by imprisonment from 10 to 15 years or by execution.

 

What peaceful cooperation or detente can we talk about if the Soviet Union continues to force into the minds of its own citizens hostility toward European countries and the United States of America, reserving to itself the right to preserve a cold-war climate inside the country? It is obvious that the Soviet Union does not have the slightest intention of bringing its internal legal system into line with international agreements, let alone allowing the peaceful coexistence of ideologies.

 

There is no freedom of movement in the Soviet Union. And one can only be amazed by the blindness of people in the West who do not see the Berlin Wall in the middle of Europe. The Soviet Union is similarly fenced in.

 

Dozens of my fellow-prisoners are still in the U.S.S.R.'s prisons and camps only because they tried to leave the U.S.S.R. or, once they had left, returned voluntarily. Vladimir Balakhonov, a U.N. employee who asked for political asylum in Switzerland in 1973, returned to the Soviet Union of his own free will after a Soviet consul gave his assurances that he would not be subject to repression. He was sentenced to 12 years and is now in Vladimir prison.

 

Vasily Fedorenko was given 15 years for an attempt to cross the Soviet-Czechoslovak border and is in Vladimir prison on a special regime. He has been on a hunger-strike for more than a year in protest against his illegal sentence.

 

Nothing is known of the fate of the pilot Zosimov, returned by Iran to Soviet authorities for punishment. Twelve Jews, who received sentences of between 8 and 15 years for the famous Leningrad hijack case, are still in detention.

 

Incidentally, the merit of these people is that they were the first to attract the attention of the world public opinion and of Western governments to the problem of leaving the U.S.S.R. But even now this problem cannot be considered resolved. People are subject to persecution including imprisonment for many years, for the mere expression of a wish to leave the country.

For example, Anatoly Marchenko was exiled to Siberia for trying to exercise his right to leave. Even after the Helsinki agreement, which plainly stipulated the. principle of reuniting families. Ida Nudel has not been allowed to join her sister in Israel, and she is threatened with legal and psychiatric persecution. According to the Moscow Helsinki Observance Group, the possibilities of leaving the Soviet Union have grown sharply worse since the Final Act was signed: emigration is now limited to cases of narrowly understood reunification of families. The problem of return to the U.S.S.R. for those who have left has not been touched on.

 

Everyone who decides to leave does so once and for all, without any hope of ever returning. Therefore, he practically has to decide to become a refugee. Under that same article 64, any attempt by representatives of various peoples of the U.S.S.R. to realize or even discuss their right to national self-determination, as provided for in the Soviet Constitution, is seen as treason.

 

Principle Eight of part one of the Final Act speaks of the right of every people to define its own external and internal political status in conditions of complete freedom. However, the peoples of the U.S.S.R. have never had conditions of complete freedom let alone any real possibility for self-determination.

 

I can bear witness to the fact that there are still hundreds of people in prisons and camps who were sentenced after the Second World War for their part in national liberation movements in the Ukraine and the Baltic republics.

 

In the sixties and seventies dozens of people were condemned for so-called bourgeois nationalism, that is for participating in discussions of prospects for national self-determination or even just for a cultural renaissance of their peoples. Due to limitations of time I am unable to name all of them, but I shall mention only those who have been imprisoned several times for "bourgeois nationalism" and are currently in a prison or camp.

 

They are the Armenian poet Pairuir Airikyan; the Ukrainians, historian Valentin Moroz, linguist Svyatoslav Karavansky, teacher Danilo Shumuk, historian Ivan Hel, poet Mikhailo Osadchi, writer Aryacheslav Ohornovil. Yuri Shukhevich has spent only 4 years at liberty since the age of 15. He was sentenced to 5 years in prison, five years in a special regime concentration camp, and 5 years' exile for writing his memoirs. The Ukrainian poet Anatoly Lupinos, is in the Dnepropetrovsk psychiatric prison under forced "treatment" for an unspecified time. He earlier served a 10-year camp sentence.

 

Whole peoples who were deported in Stalin's times are denied the right of return to their homeland: these are the Crimean Tartars, Meskhetians and the Volga Germans. If the Germans are now managing to emigrate to West Germany, experiencing the usual difficulties associated with leaving (arrest, persecution, and humiliation), the Crimean Tartars, expelled from the Crimea, and the Meskhetians, expelled from Georgia, are still deprived of the freedom to choose a place to live inside the Soviet Union and are subjected to the same cruel persecutions.

 

The Crimean Tartar activist Mustafa Dzhemilev has been imprisoned for the fourth time. His life is now in danger after prolonged hunger-strikes. At present, movements for national rights are inseparable from the general movement for the rights of man.

 

As a participant in this movement, I should like to point out that the necessity of observing the law always formed part of our traditions. Samizdat, peaceful demonstrations and protest petitions were and continue to be our practical expression of constitutional freedoms. Our information journal "The Chronicle of Current Events", founded in 1968, carries the text of article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights on its masthead. Again in 1968 signatures were collected for an appeal to the USSR Supreme Soviet with the proposal to ratify the covenants on civil and political rights.

 

Our constitutional actions were answered by repressions, since they were described as anti-Soviet propaganda, defamation of the Soviet system, or infringements of public order. Signed sheets of the appeal were confiscated during house-searches. Several times during house- searches (and always to this day in places of detention) the text of the Human Rights Declaration was confiscated. In a number of verdicts, participation in compiling and distributing the "Chronicle of Current Events" was considered a crime.

 

Hundreds of people have been imprisoned for participation in this movement, for their beliefs and convictions. Soviet punitive organs and propaganda deny the existence of persecution for one's beliefs in the Soviet Union; according to official statements, nobody is imprisoned for his views in the Soviet Union, only for his actions.

 

At the same time, expression of one's views is understood as a criminal act. Incidentally, article 19 of the Human Rights Declaration does not separate the right to have any views and convictions from the right to express them.

 

Alexander Chekalin, a fitter, was sentenced to 5 years in a concentration camp in 1971 just because he had written a remark on a voting slip during so-called secret elections to the Supreme Soviet.

 

In this remark he expressed his opinion of Soviet electoral procedure. Dozens of people have been sentenced only because they have complained to the country's authorities and international organizations. The merited teacher of the Moldavian republic, Yakov Suslensky, who survived a 7-year sentence by a miracle and was released in January of this year was imprisoned for a letter to the U.N. Secretary General, which the KGB got hold of while it was in the mail. Such practices force people to be hypocritical, teach them to think one thing and say another.

 

They violate people's consciences. There is no freedom of information in the Soviet Union. Soviet law rejects it in principle. Exercising the right to receive and spread information by any means is punishable under articles 70 and 190.3, and is considered to be a criminal act.

 

I was arrested in 1971 and sentenced to 7 years in prison and concentration camp and to 5 years' exile just because I had, openly, without making a secret of it, told the correspondents of the Associated Press and of CBS in Moscow what I had seen in prisons, camps and madhouses.

 

During the so-called trial, which lasted for only a few hours, clippings from American newspapers containing an interview with me were shown as evidence and the CBS film with my participation was shown. None of the judges spoke English, but the court nevertheless refused my request for a translation during the case.

 

They said that everything was already clear. I can certify that more than a month before the court examination and the verdict, a KGB investigator told me the term of my imprisonment. The following people are now imprisoned in concentration camps and prisons for distributing publications about infringements of human rights in the Soviet Union, such as the "Chronicle of Current Events," the '"Chronicle of the Lithuanian Catholic Church," and the "Ukrainian Herald": Nijole Sadunaite, Sergei Kovalev, Vyacheslav Chornovil, Gabriel Superfin, and others.

 

As far as the right to receive information is concerned, this is very limited for those living at liberty and almost non-existent in camps and prisons. Article 25 of the Corrective Labor Code firmly prohibits prisoners from receiving any publications produced outside the Soviet Union. A political prisoner in Vladimir prison, Nikolai Budulak-Sharygin, did not receive one single copy of the English communist newspaper, "The Morning Star," which its editorial office used to send him at the request of his English wife.

 

Even the "UNESCO Courier," the Russian version of which is published in Moscow, is forbidden in Vladimir prison. The infringement of the right to receive and distribute information also applies to personal correspondence. Of the tens of thousands of postcards, which as I now know were sent to me from abroad, I received just three during my detention. For months I was not given letters from my mother, and the small number of letters which I was able to write out of prison (one letter every month or two) were continually confiscated under trumped-up pretexts. Seven political prisoners in Vladimir prison were finally obliged to give up their correspondence altogether.

 

The Soviet system of corrective-labor reeducation for political prisoners constitutes a monstrous crime, relying on punishment by hunger, solitary confinement, deprivation of medical help, and all this is done with the aim of forcibly changing religious, political, and national convictions.

 

All this is what those internal affairs of the Soviet Union really are, the ones with which it will not allow interference, which it covers with its sovereignty. And, quite often, the West accepts the Soviet point of view on interference in its internal affairs.

 

One can say confidently that the Soviet leadership has never intended to observe the Universal Human Rights Declaration, covenants on civil and political rights, or the Third Basket of the Helsinki agreement. And it will not observe them unless Western states and societies firmly and systematically work toward their fulfillment.

 

For me it was quite obvious that all international documents will remain unfulfilled until the Soviet Union brings its internal legal system and practice into line with its international obligations. Quite recently the Soviet Union confronted you with a direct challenge by declaring that monitoring observance of the Helsinki agreements was a crime. The leaders of the Moscow and Ukrainian Helsinki groups, Yuri Orlov and Mykola Rudenko and other members of these groups, former political prisoners Alexander Ginzburg and Oleksa Tykhy, have been arrested.

 

The fate of these people, and of the Helsinki agreement itself, depends on the reaction of Western countries: will the world be able to stand up for its own understanding of freedom or will it adopt the principles of "socialist democracy?"

 

In order to defend basic freedoms and to support civil rights, national and religious movements in the U.S.S.R., it is essential:

 

(1) To investigate infringements of these freedoms in the U.N., Human Rights Commission, in UNESCO, and at the forthcoming Belgrade Conference;

(2) To demand the admittance of observers into Soviet political camps and prisons, psychiatric hospitals, and to political trials;

(3) To obtain free contact between western Helsinki groups and the Moscow, Ukrainian and Lithuanian groups, including meetings with arrested members of these groups;

(4) and finally, to make trade and economic ties depend on the observance of civil rights agreements. It is clear that a country which does not fulfill these agreements will easily break others.

 

I should like to issue a very serious warning: western public opinion, parliaments, and governments must have patience. The West is too impatient: after some attempts which have brought no results, you easily let your arms drop and you despair.

 

And the Soviet Union, knowing the West, certainly banks on such a reaction and, as recent arrests have shown, will stick to a hard line. And again a certain viewpoint can arise: "It is better not to anger the Soviet leaders" - they bank on that, too.

 

You must understand that a new wave of repressions in the Soviet Union does not demonstrate strength, but the Soviet Union's fear in the face of rising opposition from within the country and international solidarity with this opposition, particularly in view of the unprecedented rise of opposition in all the East European countries. I do not hesitate to state that the fate of the world depends on the conduct of the Western nations at this time of growing crisis. A firm, relentless and constant stand by the West will force the Soviet Union to recognize political realities.

 

I don't want to be misunderstood. I am not against attempts to seek peaceful settlements of all the problems which divide us. I am for detente. But it must be a real detente and not a self-deception. Not at the price of basic principles, on which this country was founded. Not a capitulation to the advance of communism which is the way the Soviet Union interprets detente to its own people daily. It must be a detente with a human face.

 

Thank you. [Applause.]

 

Chairman FASCELL: Thank you very much, Mr. Bukovsky, for a very sad commentary but a very powerful statement. It is very hard for us sitting here, at least for me, to realize as part of your statement, that you were sentenced to 7 years in prison and 5 years in exile simply because you expressed your observations of what took place in prison camps and psychiatric hospitals to the press.

 

If the same rule of law or the same interpretation were placed here with members of Congress who dissented with the administration at one time or another, we would all be in jail.

 

It is almost inconceivable and difficult to grasp the fact that as part of the legal system, under the cloak of sovereignty, that the Soviet Union uses these repressions and, as you state, out of fear, to make everybody conform.

 

You say that there is rising opposition or rising dissent in the Soviet Union and Eastern bloc countries. Is that something new, or is there just an increased awareness of it in the West?

 

Mr. Bukovsky: Excuse me. I will speak in Russian because I am tired of speaking in English. I will ask Dr. Olkhovsky to translate.

 

Chairman FASCELL: Please.

 

Mr. Bukovsky: [through interpreter]. The increase in the strengthening and spread of the struggle for human rights in the Soviet Union -- this is a constant process which has been going on for at least the last decade.

 

Of course the process of interaction with the Wrest is crucially important to the movement in the Soviet Union.

 

Chairman FASCELL: We have been joined here at the table by the distinguished Co-Chairman of the Commission Senator Claiborne Pell. I yield to him for whatever remarks lie wishes to make or whatever questions he wishes to address.

 

Senator PELL: No remarks except to express my regret at not being here to hear mv old friend Leonard Garment make his statement and to hear Mr. Bukovsky's statement, which I have had the pleasure of reading. It is very difficult for us sitting in these comfortable circumstances and it makes us very humble-not a usual position for a politician to hear your account of your tribulations.

 

I really have two questions. Number one, do you think that conditions now from the viewpoint of political repression are better, worse, or about the same as under the czars?

 

Mr. Bukovsky: [through interpreter]. I cannot in any way compare the two processes.

 

Senator PELL: The reason I ask it is, having read Dostoevsky and Russian literature, it seems that there is nothing new about these conditions. They are dreadful, but they have been there a long time.

 

Mr. Bukovsky: [through interpreter]. I cannot agree wit i such comparison. It seems to me that having read Dostoevsky, one cannot really get the point of view of what was going on.

Very often in the West I encounter a very complete lack of understanding about what is going on right now in the Soviet Union and what has been going on previously. I come across people once in a while who maintain that serfdom in Russia was abolished in 1917. 

 

[Laughter.]

 

Mr. Bukovsky: [through interpreter]. One must appreciate that 50 years before the revolution all kinds of processes were taking place for the democratization of society toward the achievement of certain human rights.

 

For instance, we had the jury which acquitted persons attempting to assassinate the Governor General of Petersburg. Immediately after the revolution we lost all of those traditions, democratic traditions, which had been gained before that.

 

An entire social stratum of people was destroyed together with the institutions and traditions which had already been acquired. And the process which is taking place now, the process of asserting moral values, is a totally different process from those which had been going on before.

 

Senator PELL: One difference it seemed to me was the use of psychiatric treatments in hospitals as a means of political repression. I was wondering if Mr. Bukovsky could give us a little more of a first-hand report of the way that the Soviet Union used psychiatric treatment. I know that he was judged insane for two years and underwent the same treatment himself.

 

Mr. Bukovsky: [through interpreter]. Psychiatric repression is common in the Soviet Union. This is a direct consequence of the ideological system and the state system in the Soviet Union. The basic doctrine to which everything in the Soviet Union is subjected, maintains that being determines one's consciousness. And, inasmuch as the Soviet Union in the course of the last 60 years has maintained this type of propaganda, the socialist society, the socialist type of being, a normal human being cannot help but develop a socialist type of mentality.

 

In a country where for the last 60 years there has been anti-religious propaganda and religion is prohibited, every human being who believes in God is viewed as insane. Also a young person who does not support the state and does not maintain the communist point of view, can also be considered as insane. The persecution of dissidents through the use of psychiatric repression became widespread in the late 1950's and since that time it has been growing and intensifying.

 

New psychiatric hospitals of a special type have been built and are being built. By the end of the 1950's, there were only 3 such hospitals of this special type in the Soviet Union, now there are at least 15.

 

Intensification of the use of psychiatric hospitals in the early 1950's and the 1960's, was given impetus by the statement made by Khrushchev. Khrushchev said then that there are no opponents to the Soviet regime in the Soviet Union and there is no opposition, and all of those who are dissatisfied with this regime are simply insane.

 

This type of method is extremely advantageous to Soviet power. This is because it immediately allows the Soviet Union to blacken anyone who is against it, and at the same time it allows the authorities to lock one up in the hospital for an indefinite period of time without a court proceeding. Every person who is put into a psychiatric hospital for political reasons has no way to get out of there until the time he recants his point of view or until he recognizes that the state is right.

 

This type of duplicity is very typical for the Soviet regime; the doctors to whom the prisoners must speak and give testimony insist that the prisoner must immediately recant his opinions. But they claim that if a prisoner cannot critically appraise his own statements, he simply should stay in the hospital. And, practically, what happens is that every prisoner stays in the hospital and will not be let out until the time when he changes his views. The same refers also to the system of psychiatric punishment within the psychiatric hospitals.

 

From a legal standpoint, a person who is mentally sick cannot be legally punished, and therefore he is not punished, he is simply being "cured". And if such a prisoner violates whatever internal rules there might be, he is accused of violating these instructions. They maintain that obviously a person like this who cannot even observe internal regulations within the hospital must be absolutely nuts or crazy and he should be "helped", and therefore he should be "cured" so that at least he will be able to observe the rules in the hospital.

 

As a result of this hypocritical point of view there are several ways of punishing the prisoner such as the use of neuroleptics and psychiatric drugs.

 

Senator PELL: What is that?

 

Mr. Bukovsky: Some sort of medicinal drug.

 

Senator PELL: Thank you.

 

Mr. Bukovsky: [through interpreter]. Some of those neuroleptics are known in the West, such as Haloparidol and others. Other drugs are not known in the West and I have checked with Western psychiatrists and they say that these drugs are unknown in the West, or certainly are not used.

 

One of these, which is extremely painful and which is perhaps used -more frequently than anything else as a form of punishment, is called Sulfazine. This is simply a solution of sulfur in oil injected into a human body. This substance brings about a feverish state and raises the temperature in the human body to 41 degrees centigrade. And the pains which are induced by this substance make it impossible for one to move.

 

Chairman FASCELL: Mr. Buchanan.

 

Representative BUCHANAN: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Have you finished your previous answer? That is rather a shocking answer that you have just given and I want to know if you have finished with your previous answer.

 

Mr. Bukovsky: Yes.

 

Representative BUCHANAN: There is widespread use of such drugs? 

 

Mr. Bukovsky: [through interpreter.] Yes, and unfortunately this is a normal practice. I have met a number of people who have been injected with this drug for many months on end.

 

Representative BUCHANAN: You counselled patience and perseverance on the part of the West. I wonder if you have any suggestions as to what might be most effective in terms of actions we might take to the end result, of an easing of repression and greater recognition of human rights in the Soviet Union?

 

Mr. Bukovsky: [through interpreter.] I met numerous psychiatrists in Great Britain and in France and elsewhere, and we have discussed with them the methods and means that could be employed to help the prisoners in psychiatric hospitals. I think that in the fall of this year, there is an international psychiatric conference scheduled in Honolulu. I understand that the question of the behavior of psychiatrists in the Soviet Union will be brought up at this conference.

 

I was trying to tell the psychiatrists to whom I have spoken that it is not a question of establishing a blockade against the Soviet psychiatrists because it would be incorrect to think that Soviet psychiatry is a monolithic type of psychiatry.

 

It is not really a question of psychiatry but a question of human consciousness. Among the Soviet psychiatrists that I have met a number of times, there are perfectly decent human beings and good physchiatrists who for political reasons' refused to treat patients in such a way. And the task of public opinion in the West and of the psychiatrists in the West is to support such people. At the same time it is completely inadmissible that perfectly honest Western psychiatrists sit at the same' conference table with the 'criminals who misuse and abuse psychiatry in the Soviet Union.

 

The same general principle can be applied also in all of the relations between East and West. I am not speaking here of isolating or blockading the Soviet Union in any sphere of life. What I am trying to say is that there are people in the West who should not sit together with the criminals who pursue their policies in the Soviet Union. The question is ultimately one of helping the people in the Soviet Union.

 

The violation of human rights in the Soviet Union is a serious threat to all of the world, because until the time when in the Soviet Union a public opinion is established which is capable of controlling the Soviet state - until that time the Soviet system and the Soviet Government will never observe any of the rules or any of the agreements which are not suitable for it.

 

Representative BUCHANAN: Thank you and thank you, Mr. Chairman.

 

Chairman FASCELL: Senator Stone.

 

Senator STONE: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Mr. Bukovsky, in your statement you say, "a firm and relentless and constant stand by the West will force the Soviet Union to recognize political realities." What political realities?

 

Mr. Bukovsky: [through interpreter]. What I had in mind was defending one's moral principles. The Western governments and Western societies will create new realities. These realities will demand the observance of the rights of man and these realities on the Soviet side will have to be observed, provided that the realities are pursued consistently and persistently.

 

Senator STONE: In your statement you say, that we should make trade and economic ties dependent on the observance of civil rights agreements. Recently our leadership has been supporting the dissidents in general and in particular but not linking that support to trade and economic ties.

 

Do you feel that the linkage is important in order to gain actual observance by the Soviet Union of these basic human rights?

 

Mr. Bukovsky: [through interpreter]. We were much encouraged by the recent statements of the Government of the United States and especially by the statements of President Carter.

And as far as the linkage between trade with the Soviet Union and the struggle for the rights of men, I find this linkage essential and absolutely necessary. The thing is that there is a widespread myth which states that trade is completely neutral.

 

At the same time trade which is completely unlimited, is, in a way, interference in the internal affairs of another country, the difference being that it is interference by the government, it is for the government rather than for the people. Therefore I think the linkage between trade and human rights is absolutely necessary and, unavoidable. Let me give an example.

 

In 1970, in the month of March, a group of people, members of the human rights movement in the Soviet Union headed by Sakharov, made an appeal to the Soviet Government which stated that the Soviet Union would be able to overcome the deficiencies and the lag in computerization and mechanization only if the Soviet intelligentsia. the Soviet scientists, would be given more freedom in pursuing this. Only in the atmosphere of intellectual freedom could a certain level of creative initiative exist. And. in Sakharov's opinion, the Soviet Union would never, otherwise, be able to catch up with the West, certainly in the area of computerization.

 

How did the Western' countries respond to this warning by Sakharov? They simply increased sales of computers to the Soviet Union. How can one, after this, state that trade is neutral and not interference in internal affairs?

 

Senator STONE: One last question. Each time that the United States or leadership here protests the violations of human rights within the Soviet Union, that protest seems either accompanied or followed by renewed or increased repression.

 

Yet dissident leaders like Valery Chalidze or you keep urging us to make these protests. Do you still feel that those protests are in the interest of increased human rights as opposed to a decrease in human rights?

 

Mr. Bukovsky: [through interpreter]. I think that the phenomenon which you are addressing yourself to, the increase in repressions after a number of statements, has come about because the Western countries have not always been consistent in their support for human rights. The Soviet Government has become accustomed to the fact that after, a number of protests are made by the West, the West simply backs down.

 

They know perfectly well that-as an answer to the number of repressions in the Soviet Union - in the West there will be a number of voices speaking out, maintaining that any protests against the repressions by the Soviet authorities could not help but harm the relations with the Soviet Union.

 

And that is exactly what the Soviet government is banking on, precisely on these forces. The Soviet Government has always maintained - always insisted - that they are absolutely insensitive to the protests that are emanating from the West. They try to demonstrate this.

 

But those of us who have lived and struggled in the Soviet Union know perhaps more than anyone else in the West, the psychology, the way of thinking of the Soviet leadership. And if the Soviet leaders become convinced that protests about the persecutions in the Soviet Union are not merely a temporary expedient of the West, but will lead to a consistent and steadfast policy on the part of the West, they Will have no choice but to recognize this and they will have no choice but to take this into account in their relations with the United States.

To a certain extent I am here merely as an illustration of just how sensitive the Soviets are to this type of pressure. I do not think that anyone doubts that were it not for the widespread campaign in my, defense, I still would be in prison.

 

Senator STONE: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

 

Chairman FASCELL: Mr. Bukovsky, but one fact seems to stand out starkly. The Soviets see you as an insane criminal for expressing your views, and yet here we sit in open session, very anxious to learn what your views are.

 

So, while I cannot make any assurances on policy, I think that I can safely make some assurances about the human spirit and the commitment that the people of the United States have to ideals and to struggle for liberty, independence and human dignity. We are privileged to have you here today despite the fact that the society front which you came calls you an insane criminal.

Mr. Yates.

 

Representative YATES: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Mr. Bukovsky, it is a pleasure for us to have you here with us.

 

I would like to ask you this. Suppose you had a wife or mother or loved one who remained behind in the Soviet Union. For years now, as a representative for the people in my district, I have tried to help reunify a family, a mother and a brother who live in my district. They were recently allowed to leave the Soviet Union, in fact, they were told they had to leave the Soviet Union, but at the railroad station, one of the mother's sons was required to stay behind. He now lives in Leningrad. His name is Felix Aranovich.

 

Two years ago, I was a member of Speaker Albert's parliamentary delegation that visited the Soviet Union, and at that time I brought the matter up and asked the advice of three officials of the Soviet Union. One was Georgi Arbatov. One was Boris Ponomarev and the other was Secretary Brezhnev. In each instance I was told that anybody may leave the Soviet Union who wants to leave the Soviet Union.

 

Secretary Brezhnev told us he was tired of having these emigration cases brought up. I told him I thought we had worked out some procedure with Ponomarev, who was the head of Supreme Soviet delegation, for getting information on those cases on which Members of Congress were seeking to obtain information. And Brezhnev nodded at that.

 

Now, I have written letters since coming back to this country to each of those officials. Friends of mine who have visited the Soviet Union have carried requests again to try to find out why the case of Felix Aranovich could not be approved.

 

If you were I, how would you go about trying to persuade the Russian authorities to permit this family to be reunited?

 

Mr. Bukovsky: [through interpreter]. It is precisely for this reason, Mr. Yates - it is precisely for the reason - that I have been mentioning that the need exists for linkage between grain and trade and the struggle for human rights. If what we are doing here, if our activity here is limited strictly to declaratory statements, the Soviet Government will soon understand that these are nothing but words and therefore will remain completely uninfluenced.

 

Unfortunately it is quite useless to reconvince the Soviet leaders or appeal to their consciences, and any attempt to reach a compromise with them is interpreted by them as a sign of weakness. Unfortunately, such are the sad facts. And it is for this reason that declarations, or mere statements, are simply not enough.

 

Representative YATES: Thank you.

 

Chairman FASCELL: Let me take a moment here to welcome our newest member to the Commission, the distinguished American from the other body, Senator Dole.

 

Senator DOLE: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Is it my turn? 

 

Chairman FASCELL: Yes, sir.

 

Senator DOLE: This doesn't happen this often in the Senate. We never have terminal facilities. Very quickly, do you support the linkage theory that. Secretary Kissinger promoted? Is that a fair statement?

 

Mr. Bukovsky: [through interpreter]. As much as I can judge from cases within the Soviet Union, the results of policies which were pursued by the previous administration of the country have only increased repression within the Soviet Union and untied the hands of the Soviet leaders, who have interpreted this - that the leading country in the West simply abrogates its rights and responsibilities toward the dissident movement.

 

And, it is precisely for this reason that we in the Soviet Union have felt the tremendous increase in repressions, not only in the country itself, but in the camps and the prisons. I can testify that until the visits of former President Nixon to Moscow in .1972, Soviet authorities, in anticipation of this visit were willing to produce some compromises. Many of my friends were even released from prisons and camps. This was because the Soviet Government fully anticipated the linkage which President Nixon would presumably insist on-linkage between the relations of the Soviet Union and the United States and the struggle for human rights in the Soviet Union.

 

Once President Nixon had left the Soviet Union the repression sharply increased. The number of those arrested sharply increased, and conditions in prisons and camps sharply worsened.

Senator DOLE. It has been demonstrated here today certainly, with great support and interest in your testimony. What is the extent of popular support in the Soviet Union for men like yourself, the prominent critics, the Sakharovs? Is it widespread and is it possible to gauge the support for men and women who do dissent and are critical?

 

Mr. Bukovsky: [through interpreter]. Since I have spent the last 6 years in the Soviet Union in prisons and camps, I can only speak really of the conditions which existed in those places. I must say that all of the defenders of rights in the Soviet Union, especially people like Sakharov and Solzhenitsyn are very well known among the most varied strata of Soviet society.

 

Of crucial importance are the radio broadcasts which emanate from the West and are beamed to the Soviet Union. Such radio stations as Radio Liberty and Voice of America and the British Broadcasting Corporation are for all practical purposes the only source of information for people who live in the Soviet Union. Even the wardens in Vladimir Prison are very careful to listen to what the radio says from the West. And quite a few of them informed us secretly, on the sly, what they had heard on Western radio.

 

Another thing which is very important for the cause of dissemination of information in the Soviet Union, is the dissemination of Russian books published in the West and taken to the Soviet Union. This is the second most important source of information.

 

Senator DOLE: It has been suggested by some that a unilateral reduction in strategic weapons by our country would result in what has been termed "reciprocal restraint" in the arms race by the Soviet Union.

 

In your opinion, is it likely that such initiative by our Nation would inspire or somehow encourage the Soviet Union to follow our example and slow the arms buildup in both nations?

 

Mr. Bukovsky: [through interpreter]. I think that the unilateral disarmament of which we are speaking here, the unilateral disarmament of the West can only bring about one result. All of us will find ourselves one day in Siberian concentration camps.

 

Senator DOLE: This theory has been advocated by one who seeks to be very prominent in this administration by the name of Warnke, so I just wanted your comments on that. Thank you Mr. Chairman. 

 

Chairman FASCELL: Congressman Bingham.

 

Representative BINGHAM: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Mr. Bukovsky, you have certainly presented to us a very vivid and terrifying picture of the conditions in the Soviet Union with respect to human rights I would like to pursue the question of linkage. The only specific case in which we have attempted to bring pressure through the use of some form of restrictions on trade has been in the so-called Jackson-Vanik Amendment of 1974.

 

There has been some expression of opinion here in the Congress that the adoption of this amendment was a mistake, and it did not achieve the result intended, but made matters worse.

Would you comment on that question?

 

Mr. Bukovsky: [through interpreter]. I do not consider the amendment as a mistake. I consider it as a tremendous moral victory for the United States. My only concern is that the other countries in the West were not brave enough to adopt such an amendment into their laws.

 

Representative BINGHAM: Did it have any results one way or the other?

 

Mr. Bukovsky: [through interpreter]. Yes. I think that the most important result that was achieved by the adoption of this amendment was the statement on the moral issues in the West.

 

If the Soviet Government were certain that this type of policy would be consistent, they would have no other choice than to recognize this political reality, and the need to respect international agreements.

 

Representative BINGHAM: There is a general impression in this country that the conditions in the Soviet Union, with respect to human rights, are better now than they were in the age of Stalin. Would you agree that that is the fact?

 

Mr. Bukovsky: [through interpreter]. I think it would be incorrect to compare the situation in the Soviet Union today with that which existed under Stalin. I say that because since those days both the leadership and the thinking in the country have been transformed very much. The most important part in this transformation was the recognition by the Soviet leaders themselves that the continuation of mass terror would destroy themselves as happened in the 1930's.

 

The second most important factor in the easing of restrictions concerning the human rights movement in the Soviet Union was the growth of the human rights movement itself. Everything which this movement had achieved was not presented to the movement by the Government but rather taken by the dissidents from the Government.

 

Representative BINGHAM: Thank you and thank you, Mr. Chairman. 

 

Chairman FASCELL: Mr. Bukovsky, the Soviets say that the Jackson-Vanik Amendment really had no effect. They were able to increase their repression and emigration was reduced; and as far as economics are concerned, they were able to get their needed goods and food and credits from other sources. The Soviets, therefore seem to take the position that action by the United States is really meaningless since it is unilateral. This suggests that some kind of Western effort at linkage is necessary.

 

What do you have to say about that kind of opinion?

 

Mr. Bukovsky: [through interpreter]. I think that a certain reduction in the emigration of Jews from the Soviet Union was simply a natural process which would be very difficult to correlate with the amendment.

 

First, the first wave of emigration was of the most energetic Jews; this left a great number of Jews in the Soviet Union for whom the question of leaving the country was not that easily decided.

 

I say this because, as I have already indicated, every person who leaves the Soviet Union must decide this question in terms of leaving the country once and forever. And it is those people who, within their hearts perhaps, would like to leave the Soviet Union, if they had the opportunity to leave and come back and compare and contrast this and that part of the world, who hesitate. I am absolutely certain that a much greater number of Jews would leave the Soviet Union if they knew that their decision was not irrevocable.

 

So the problem which has been raised lately is not just the question of leaving the Soviet Union, but also being able to come back, because these two processes are mutually interconnected.

 

Chairman FASCELL: Senator Leahy. 

 

Senator LEAHY: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I apologize for being absent at the early part of the hearing today. I am having a little trouble following the linkage question. I wonder to what extent we tend to destroy our own credibility in this whole thing. We are either going to involve ourselves in full linkages, not only trade linkages, and show a willingness to speak out, or we are not. We seem to have a hesitancy at times to speak out and at other times, not.

 

We seem to let trade, military, and other considerations weigh very heavily on the extent to which we are willing to express any moral outrage. I am not just speaking of the Soviet Union, but of other countries, too, Chile and so forth.

 

Are we seen in the Soviet Union as being willing to speak out for dissidents rights at a time when it is politically advantageous because of an individual's own campaign in this country, or a time when it may be economically advantageous, but as unwilling to speak out at other times; or are we seen as more consistent than that?

 

Mr. Bukovsky: [through interpreter]. The question of how the American foreign policy is viewed in the Soviet Union really depends mostly upon how the policy will be conducted. It is quite obvious to me that it is impossible to defend fictitiously the rights of men in the Soviet Union, and at the same time, simultaneously, help the Soviet state to strengthen that prison.

 

I was taken out of the Soviet Union in handcuffs on which it was labelled, "Made in U.S.A." The only thing that I ask for and the only thing that I really insist on, is please do not sell us the handcuffs, not directly or indirectly.

 

Senator LEAHY: Are there any items at all that you would let the United States sell to the Soviet Union?

 

Mr. Bukovsky: [through interpreter]. It is not really a question of what can be sold or should not be sold. It is not by accident that I have stressed handcuffs. My statement on the handcuffs should be taken both directly and symbolically. It is said that trade With the Soviet Union without any conditions will turn out to be in handcuffs.

 

Senator LEAHY: That is the point I was leading to. Selling wheat for example, would that be like selling handcuffs, directly or indirectly? In your viewpoint, would that be?

 

Mr. Bukovsky: [through interpreter]. If the grain which is sold by the United States to the Soviet Union, in times of stress for the Soviet Union, is sold without any conditions whatsoever, but just sold. It simply makes it possible for the Soviet Union to continue the arms race. And in no way does this ease the plight of the .nation. There is. absolutely no guarantee that this, grain would be distributed among the people. It can be sold to anyone, and, for instance, it could be sold to the Cubans, and we know of such cases.

 

And when one speaks of trading grain with the Soviet Union. in times of stress, one would hope that certain assurances should be received from the Soviet Government that it is the people, the nation, that will really get this grain.

 

Senator LEAHY: If the assurances are given that indeed, the grain, goes to the people, Mr. Bukovsky, do you still run the risk of what you were saying before about it being turned into handcuffs? For example, if we sell grain, does that allow the Soviet.Union to maintain a work force on items other than farm production? Does it free them up to do things they might not have done if they had to take care of their,own agricultural deficiencies?

 

Mr. Bukovsky: [through interpreter]. That is what I am saying. Every time this trade is carried on, conditions must be set to make the Soviet Union observe its international obligations and covenants.

 

Senator LEAHY: Have we not in the past set some conditions - I am going back to some of the same questions that have been asked - in the past have we not set certain conditions, for example, with the Jackson Amendment? And, has not the effect been one that was completely different than what we had expected? Has not emigration been slowed down as a result of that? And is that the issue that we should concern ourselves with?

 

To the question that if indeed emigration has slowed down as a result of this, is that something that we should still concern ourselves with, or do we have a larger moral issue? At which point are we moral, and at which point are we pragmatic?

 

Mr. Bukovsky: [through interpreter]. In my opinion, the Soviet Governor never considered that the Jackson-Vanik Amendment would last very long. They have been counting very strongly on the opposition to this amendment, counting on the strengthening of this Opposition.

 

Again I can only speak of my own experience and on my knowledge of the Soviet mentality.

 

Senator LEAHY: The opposition to the Jackson-Vanik Amendment, where do they count on that opposition coming from?

 

Mr. Bukovsky: [through interpreter]. Within the United States of America and within the countries of the West.

 

Senator LEAHY: From any particular interests? Through political interests, through manufacturing interests, commercial interests, military interests?

 

Mr. Bukovsky: [through interpreter]. Essentially from the business interests. The Soviet papers are full of statements and commentaries by the business people from the West. These people come to the Soviet Union to visit and maintain, time and time again, that within the United States of America, they do everything in their power to abolish the Jackson-Vanik Amendment.

 

According to the communist interpretation of society, the Western world, Western society, is ruled by the capitalists. And when the capitalists come to the Soviet Union and state vey strongly that they will do everything in their power, and succeed in abolishing the Jackson-Vanik Amendment, everyone believes them.

 

Senator LEAHY: To what extent would you feel the Soviet Union would be influenced by international reaction in Belgrade at the next meeting of the Helsinki Conference, the one that will be held in June? To what extent would they be influenced by public opinion, either findings of a Commission like ours, or findings by other countries? Would it be influenced at all, or are we just wasting our time in going through this exercise?

 

Mr. Bukovsky: [through interpreter]. I can judge this by the official statements of Soviet propaganda' and by the statements made by the Soviet leaders. The Soviet papers and the Soviet propaganda mention this Commission very often, as they often mention the forthcoming Belgrade Conference. Now, judging by their rather pained reaction to the activities of this Commission, the Soviet authorities treat it rather seriously, and they also treat the forthcoming Belgrade Conference with equal respect. Of course, this is always accompanied by statements such as, "Nobody will force us to do anything that we do not want to do." However, the general tone of the propaganda and tone of the newspapers clearly show just how much the Soviets are concerned with the work of this Commission and other efforts along these lines.

 

Senator LEAHY: Thank you very much. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

 

Chairman FASCELL: Mr. Simon.

 

Representative SIMON: Three short questions, Mr. Chairman. First, Mr. Bukovsky, we deeply appreciate your testimony and your courage. You mentioned being in the psychiatric hospital. How many people were in the hospital and how many were there, would you guess, for political reasons?

 

Mr. Bukovsky: [through interpreter]. In that particular hospital where I spent some time in the late 1960's, a special hospital in Leningrad, the total number of prisoners was about 1,000. About 200 of these were kept there for political reasons. Others were either murderers or those who were insane and were put into the hospital for these reasons.

 

Representative SIMON: You used the phrase a couple of times that we do not understand the way of thinking of the Soviet leadership. Our friend Andrei Amalrik has used the same phrase. I gather as I try to read between the lines, that one of the things that you believe is that we do not understand the power of public opinion within the Soviet Union. Is that correct reading?

 

Mr. Bukovsky: [through interpreter]. It is difficult to generalize, but it does happen quite frequently that here in the West people do not understand the mentality either of the Soviet leaders or of the Soviet people. I recall one day, the Prime Minister of Canada visited the Soviet Union and he stated that he would like to become acquainted with the experience that the Soviets had in the development of the regions of the far north. According to him, he wanted to use the experience the Soviets had in developing the regions in the north of Canada. And I am quite certain he did not really understand what he was saying, because every person in the Soviet Union knows just exactly how the northern territories were developed in the Soviet Union. We also know how many prisoners perished developing these lands in the north. I presume that Mr. Trudeau is not going to develop his northern areas in such a way.

 

Representative SIMON: One of the major pieces of the world puzzle is China. How deep is the cleavage, how fundamental is the split, between the Soviet Union and China?

 

Mr. Bukovsky: [through interpreter]. I cannot really consider myself an expert on Chinese affairs or even Sino-Soviet affairs. But based on my experience and with the understanding of the mentality of people there, I would say this: When the communists fight among themselves, they fight very seriously and for a very long time.

 

Representative SIMON: Thank you and thank you, Mr. Chairman. 

 

Chairman FASCELL: Mrs. Fenwick.

 

Representative FENWICK: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. This is a very important day for all of us. We are very proud to be able to hear you. I am sure you know that. We have all read your interview with Mr. Vankovich, and we understand some of the things that you have told us about psychiatric hospitals. It is very good news that not only in Hawaii but also in Toronto, the Psychiatric Association will be taking up those matters, and we will all follow the proceedings with great interest.

 

Many of the questions I had in mind have been asked, but I still have one. We have to consider the figures. We passed the Jackson-Vanik Bill, of which I approved, because I think it stands as a symbol of what we really intend in this country. But we have to admit that it has been paid for by people. In 1973, 35,000 Jews were leaving the Soviet Union and last year it was at a rate of 14,000 a year. In January it fell to between 10,000 and 12,000.

 

That is a heavy payment for lots of people, and we have lists of many names. All of us who are concerned have lists of people, begging to join their families, begging to get out of prison, and to be able to undertake professional engagements in universities of the West.

 

So it is not something that we can consider as being of no interest to Jewish people, because we have those sad figures. We interviewed the people, not only in Leningrad and Moscow, but also in the hostel in Vienna, Austria. On the other hand, we also know that the actions taken by the Secretary of State, which I and many of us in Congress endorse-are an encouragement to those who are caught in the prison countries.

 

But what I ask myself sometimes is this: are we asking them, also, to pay a heavy price? Do we put them in danger? In other words we are in a curious situation of worry on the one hand, and desire to show our human solidarity on the other. The only thing that I would like to assure you, Mr. Bukovsky, is that this desire is evident in every part of this country.

 

I, too, have had my encounters with Mr. Arbatov and Mr. Ponomarev and General Secretary Brezhnev and I was accused of having an obsession about human rights. It is not a personal obsession, Mr. Bukovsky. It is not just the determined stand of this Commission.

 

It is, and I think I speak the truth, the continuous, long-historied position of the American people. And I do not think that anybody need be concerned as to its being abandoned in the United States.

 

Mr. Bukovsky: Thank you.

 

Chairman FASCELL: Mr. Bukovsky, I want to thank you very much for appearing here today. It has been a very unusual event for us. We appreciate your thorough and candid expression and your willingness to answer all of our questions. We are very fortunate, of course, to have the views of someone who has not only had the sad experience that you have had as a result of the expression of your views, but also because you come from a country that we need to understand better, and you have given us a much needed perspective.

 

I say this in light of the upcoming Belgrade Conference, which is very important. I think we need to have a realistic and open assessment of progress, if any, on compliance with the Helsinki Accords. It seems to me highly improbable, given the strong effort the Soviet Union engaged in, to obtain a security conference of 35 signatory countries, and to claim thereby its own interpretation that the status quo in Europe had received endorsement.

 

The Soviet Union really must proceed with the Belgrade Conference in light of this position and it can in no way disavow or reject Helsinki even though they feel pressure on the human rights movement. To do that would undo the years of effort that they spent in trying to gain what they consider a very important political advantage.

 

Is there any question in your mind, that as the dynamics of the question of human rights continues, and it seems to me that it will, that the Soviets would give away this hard fought position and in some way subvert or undercut the Belgrade Conference?

 

Mr. Bukovsky: [through interpreter]. It is difficult for me to predict specifically what will happen, however, with all certainty I can maintain that the reaction of the Soviet Government toward a firm Western moral position would be a demonstration and showing of its non-susceptibility to such a position.

 

And I am certain that such a reaction on the part of the Soviets is unavoidable, but I hope it will not discourage you and all those who have tried to support this type of position.

 

It is very difficult to say anything specific about the fate of the forthcoming Belgrade Conference. And I can admit the possibility that the Soviet Government would simply refuse to take part in it. But even this should not discourage you, should not stop you. The question is ultimately this: Will the Western societies be able to with- stand the pressure to defend their moral position?

 

Chairman FASCELL: Mrs. Fenwick.

 

Representative FENWICK: I don't think they are going to refuse to come. They walked out once in the United Nations and it cost them a lot. 

 

Chairman FASCELL: Mr. Bukovsky, thank you very much. 

 

Senator DOLE: Mr. Chairman. 

 

Chairman FASCELL: Senator Dole.

 

Senator DOLE: I wish to put a statement into the record.

 

Chairman FASCELL: Without objection, your statement will appear in the record. 

 

Senator DOLE: Mr. Chairman, I have only a few brief remarks to make at this time. As one who only recently became a member of the: Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe, I want to state at the outset my strong convictions regarding the importance of the Helsinki Accords, especially insofar as observance of human rights is concerned.

 

When the United States became a principal signatory to the Accords in 1975, there were those who criticized our involvement as being counterproductive to our national interests. Indeed, some charged that the Ford Administration had given tacit agreement to Soviet domination of Eastern Europe by agreeing to sign the pact.

 

However, the experience of recent months makes it clear that our participation, and our determination to hold the Soviet Union to their part of the agreement performs a positive function. It has helped focus world attention on continuing Soviet repression and harsh emigration regulations. 

 

We perform a valuable role in keeping the pressure on European communist governments to ease emigration rules and to observe accepted humanitarian standards toward internal dissidents.

 

The United States has legitimate authority and the moral responsibility to hold the Communist governments responsible for their part of the Agreements when the signatories meet at Belgrade this summer for a follow-up conference.

 

In the meantime, our Government should speak out boldly against all forms of human repression and persecution wherever they are in evidence.

 

I am encouraged by the role this Commission is taking in monitoring compliance with provisions of the Accords. I believe the information we gather from authoritative witnesses such as those appearing today, and the input we provide to official U.S. Representatives at the Belgrade Conference, will be of valuable assistance in promoting freedom of expression and movement among the citizens of the signatory nations.

 

Chairman FASCELL: Mr. Bukovsky, we welcome you to your new life and wish you the best. Dr. Yuri Olkhovsky, we want to thank you very much for helping us today with the translation.

I realize that it was a very tiresome task, so we are extremely grateful to you.

 

Dr. OLKHOVSKY: Thank you, sir.

 

Chairman FASCELL: The Commission will meet tomorrow here at 10 o'clock in this room. Our witnesses tomorrow will discuss the work of the Orlov Group and Helsinki watchers in the Soviet Union'. One of those is a member in Lithuania. Also tomorrow we will issue a staff translation of Orlov Group documents. That concludes our business for today. We stand adjourned until 10 o'clock tomorrow. [Whereupon, at 1:05 p.m., the Commission adjourned, to reconvene at 10 a.m. on the following day in the same place.]

 

Source: https://www.csce.gov/sites/helsinkicommission.house.gov/files/Hearing%20Implementation%20of%20Helsinki%20Accords%20Vol%20I%20%281%29.pdf