SOVIET HISTORY LESSONS
Andre Martin and Peter Falke
about Vladimir Bukovsky’s
first days in the West
Photograph by Keystone.
VLADIMIR BUKOVSKY COMES TO ZURICH
In the town of Küsnacht on Lake Zurich's lower reaches, the staff of the Swiss Institute Faith in the Second World took a break from work on December 17, 1976, a Friday, at about 10 a.m., to relax with a cup of coffee in their small office kitchen. Suddenly everyone is alerted and called to the telex. Something extraordinary is happening.
The "ghost hand" writes, formulating an incredible message: “Moscow, Associated Press. Human rights activist Vladimir Bukovsky sentenced to seven years at hard labour in 1972, will be released from prison and flown out from Russia to Switzerland…".
Vladimir Bukovsky, who in spite of all persecution is still an unbroken champion of human rights in the USSR, and for whose life the free world has been fearing for some time, is to be released from Soviet prison and flown to Switzerland, even though he was sentenced in 1972 to seven years in a “corrective labour camp” followed by five years of internal exile, a total of 12 years of imprisonment. The report comes from Associated Press, one of the two major American news agencies, i.e. from a reputable source. Nevertheless, it produces incredulous amazement — everywhere in the West, where the mass media spreads this sensational piece of news. The hearts beat faster, but mixture of hope and skepticism is reflected on each face. Could this embattled man really get back his freedom? This man, who was buried alive and who became the number one public enemy of the Soviets because he dropped a bomb that caused them the most serious damage: his sensational collection of documents about the use of psychiatry in the USSR to silence the regime’s critics.
This man— like so many dissenters — had been put as a mentally healthy person through the hell of several psychiatric institutions, and on the basis of his own experience, knowledge and insights, together with an acquaintance wrote a psychiatry manual for dissenters, in which advice is given to opposition members on how to avoid arrest and detention in such institutions, and how to behave after arrest and while being put through the mills of the KGB.
This man — when barely out of prison — secretly met William Cole, the then correspondent of the American television company CBS, in a forest near Moscow in May 1970 and, in his interview that had been broadcast on TV and published in the press a few months later, shocked the entire non-communist world personally testifying about the persecution of dissidents and the conditions in prisons, camps and mental institutions of this “paradise of workers and peasants”.
For years, the free world has been campaigning for this brave man with the unbroken spirit and courage, but sick body, with unprecedented unanimity and passionate tenacity. There were uncountable organisations, associations and groups, as well as celebrities who fought for his release. The Frankfurt Society for Human Rights, led by Cornelia Gerstenmaier, who was in constant contact by telephone — directly or indirectly — with Nina Bukovskaya, the brave mother of Vladimir, was the one who lead the way. The prisoners' aid organisation Amnesty International, which stands up for the politically persecuted all over the world and maintains its own branch in Moscow, has also been actively intervening in the fight for the release of Bukovsky and against the abuse of psychiatry for the purpose of repression. These organisations were joined by biologists, psychiatrists and scientists from all over the world.
Gabriel Marcel, the philosopher who professes loyalty to God, to fellow man and to one’s own self, the winner of the Peace Prize of the German Book Trade, addressed the members of the famous Institut de France, of which he is also a member, and various psychiatrists. Levitin-Krasnov alerted Pope Paul VI. Andrei Sakharov, the 1975 Nobel Peace Prize laureate, fought for Bukovsky, as well as for all of his fellow countrymen persecuted for their beliefs. Numerous other personalities joined them with appeals.
In Küsnacht, the telex machine has meanwhile ended its message: “According to Sakharov, Bukovsky will be flown to Zurich on Saturday morning along with his mother, sister and nephew.”
These reports still need to be checked. Bukovsky's acquaintance Anatoly Levitin-Krasnov receives a telephone call from the Federal Republic of Germany confirming the report. The Society for Human Rights says that on Tuesday it had already received signals from Bukovsky's mother in Moscow that something was happening to her son. Telex reports also say that Bukovsky is to be exchanged for the Chilean Communist Party Secretary Corvalan.
All preparations must now be made as quickly as possible for a dignified reception of the Russians, for their care and accommodation. Bukovsky's nephew suffers from cancer of the lymphatic gland system and, according to reports, was operated on only a few days ago. Perhaps Bukovsky himself also needs medical care.
Messages and events rush in.
10:40 a.m. Citing Sakharov as source, the telex reports that the Bukovsky family is coming on flight SU-281 and will land in Geneva at 10:55.
10:45 a.m. Valery Tarsis calls. In the fall of 1964 he made the acquaintance of Bukovsky and worked with him in the literary group of young writers called “SMOG” until 1966. Like Bukovsky, he has also once been forcedly placed in a “psychushka”. Now he lives near Bern and can hardly believe that “his” Volodya is coming to Switzerland.
10:50 a.m. Mrs. Fotsch, the Vice-President of the Swiss branch of Amnesty International, calls. A division of responsibilities is agreed upon. Amnesty takes over the contacts with the authorities and the procurement of medical care. Faith in the Second world will take care of accommodation and relations with the press. In the meantime, journalists from all over the world call, wanting to come to Switzerland in droves.
Late afternoon brings contradictory reports. The plane was not supposed to land in Geneva after all, but will be directed to Kloten. The family did not come to Zurich via Vienna on the initially reported flight itinerary, but on a different one. They will be coming in a military aircraft. Apparently someone is creating confusion ahead of the Bukovsky / Corvalan exchange.
18:25 It is clear to Pastor Eugen Voss that the representatives of the Institute will have to go to Geneva. He buys flowers, which are then left on the train amidst all the excitement.
Like Bukovsky's friends who live abroad, Cornelia Gerstenmaier is also making her way to Switzerland. Her Society for Human Rights has its own telephone connection with Moscow, but there too the information is becoming so confusing that the only information that remains is that Bukovsky is coming, but nobody knows when and where he will land.
On Saturday, 18 December 1976, at 6:18 a.m. Mrs. Fotsch calls. For the first time she has concrete information from the spokesman of the Federal Department of Justice and Police. Bukovsky is being flown to Zurich. Corvalan will also arrive in Kloten airport. There the exchange will take place. The Soviets have made it a condition that the exchange must take place in without journalists or the public present. If there are journalists, Bukovsky will be flown back to the Soviet Union. The entire procedure will be carried out by the Swiss authorities. Private organisations should not interfere.
The "Kloten" suggestion could also be a diversionary tactic. The journalists are all already on their way to Geneva, as are Bukovsky's friends. So Reverend Voss is also going to Geneva with Levitin-Krasnov. He reports:
10:50 a.m. We are at the Geneva - Cointrin airport. In the hall there are crowds of Bukovsky's friends and journalists. I see Maximov, Nekrasov, Delauny, his wife, Cornelia Gerstenmaier, later Plyushch and many others.
Ursula Möseneder finds a ground hostess who wants to take her and me to the plane. The Russians and the journalists roll behind us. But they have to stay behind at the customs control. Only Delauny is allowed to come along. That is pure coincidence. The hostess stretched out three fingers. He sees this and comes along. The others are held back by the police. Levitin too.
Five minutes later Ursula Möseneder persuades the hostess to fetch Levitin. The two go back and finally take him to the runway. At the same moment the Aeroflot plane rolls in. About 50 journalists stand with cameras ready to take photographs. The tension is enormous. Levitin cries. The tears blind him. He tears his glasses from his eyes to wipe away the tears. The glasses fall to the ground.
The first passengers get out. Russians. Officials, officials. No one from Bukosvsky’s family. A doctor is ready to take Misha to hospital. No more passengers come off the plane. But none of the journalists move from their spots. Then the captain says that there is really no one left there on the plane. No one believes him. A rumour starts circulating that the plane is now being flown to Zurich, where the exchange will take place without journalists. Another rumour is that Bukovsky will arrive in a Soviet military plane. Yet a third one claims that the landing will take place at the Payeme airbase.
I phone home from Bern. My wife tells me about the exchange that has meanwhile taken place in Kloten airport. She has first-hand information because two of our friends were there. They were able to shake hands with Volodya and give him a welcome greeting.
About the exchange: shortly before 1 p.m., an Aeroflot aircraft from Moscow blasted through the dense clouds above the Kloten Airport near Zurich and rolled up to 800 meters to the airport building. A few minutes later Lufthansa Flight LH-505 landed, arriving in Zurich at 1:05 p.m. and stopped about 500 metres from the Aeroflot aircraft.
Between the two aircraft, police officers formed a narrow corridor. Then the hatches of the two planes opened as if on command. A pale, stocky man in a black coat emerges from the Lufthansa plane, got into a car and drove to the Russian aircraft: Luis Corvalan, 60 years old, Secretary General of the Chilean Communist Party, in custody since Allende's fall in 1973.
In the meantime Vladimir Bukovsky has also left the Russian airplane. He looks older than he really is, has the sluggish walk of a prisoner, hollow cheeks, but he smiles with bright eyes and puts his arm on the shoulder of his mother, who was allowed to leave with him, her daughter Olga and twelve-year-old nephew Michael. In the airport building hundreds of journalists and photographers rush toward Vladimir. With trembling hands he receives the flowers with which he is greeted and passes them on to his nephew. He hugs his mother and thanks her with the stammered words: "You were strong!” Nina Bukovskaya has lived only for her son and has constantly rallied for his cause, mobilising the world public opinion since 1971. Now she cannot hold back her tears.
Bukovsky's English is mixed with passages in Russian. He was brought to the airplane in handcuffs. They were only taken off him when he crossed the Soviet border. He is almost at the end of his tether. “I am tired,” he says, “but I am very, very happy to be in a Western country. I hope that all political prisoners will be released. There are people whose health condition his even worse than mine.” And then he is put into a car at the front of the Swiss police station, which takes him to a hotel in Zurich. He turns around once more and explains that he is also glad that Mr. Corvalan is free. He only saw him very briefly during the exchange.
The journalists are a little disappointed that he is not answering questions immediately. But he has asked to be allowed to come to his senses after all the events of the day. Apparently he has to process everything that happened to him: removal from the notorious Vladimir prison in Moscow, being handcuffed, put on a plane, handcuffs being removed when flying over the border of the red empire, landing on the runway of Zurich airport...
In the evening the house of pastor Voss is transformed into a hotel. Friends of Bukovsky gather with their own friends. They exchange observations. A picture emerges from various pieces of the jigsaw puzzle. But large areas remain blank. It is still a mystery why the Soviet authorities accepted the exchange proposal. Why did they finally exchange their “public enemy number one”? The proposal came from Sakharov. General Pinochet took it up. The Soviet press dismissed it as an imposition. So why did it happen so suddenly? The presence at the airport of numerous officials from the Soviet State Security Service suggests that the secret services have concluded the deal among themselves. But perhaps the protests of citizens from both worlds have simply become too strong. Perhaps the Russians were simply thinking that Bukovsky flown out of the country would become less dangerous than he could be at home, in league with Sakharov. In the West, the persecuted civil rights activists from the Eastern Bloc are quickly becoming uninteresting, if not annoying.
The news media of the Eastern Bloc do not mention a single word about the exchange and Bukovsky. According to them, “Corvalan has been fought free by the community of socialist states”. Is Moscow ashamed of the shameful trafficking in human beings, which, as Bukovsky says, goes to prove that Russia has political prisoners, which it has always denied?
Comrades in the West do not like this trafficking either. The Italian Communist Party newspaper Unita expresses its unease, speaks of unresolved problems and explains: “It is not only the development of the Soviet Union that can be damaged by this. It is socialism across the entire world which is being thwarted”. And the communist afternoon paper Paese Sera declares that torture and death in Soviet prisons can no longer be regarded as an internal affairs issue by the Soviet authorities. Georges Marchais, the leader of French communists, describes the exchange of political prisoners between the Soviet Union and Chile as “miserable”. Humanite denounces the fact that, while the socialist countries are celebrating the liberation of the Chilean communist Corvalan, they are silently ignoring the liberation of Bukovsky.
In contrast, three leading Soviet regime critics see the exchange as a “victory of the forces of reason.” Nobel Peace Prize winner Sakharov, former General Pyotr Grigorenko and Prof. Yuri Orlov also appeal to the Soviet Union to begin a “political amnesty”. For Mr. Grigrenko the exchange is “a major event, particularly because the Soviet Union was forced to admit that there are political prisoners in the USSR.” Sakharov and Grigorenko expressed the wish to meet with Corvalan.
Gathered at the Voss house are the people who have worked so hard for Bukovsky’s release, and they are watching him now in the Swiss television news. “Bukovsky's thin appearance is shocking. But his eyes are eyes of an unbroken man. They shine. Strangely, this man, bearing the marks of severe prison conditions, gives us all new courage and new strength. And yet we have only seen his face via electronic transmission. How does he look in real life?".
The Bukovskys are accommodated at Hotel Sonnenberg in Zurich. Misha Ivanov was transferred from the airport to a Zurich hospital.
Already on Sunday, Bukovsky is answering the journalists' questions at a press conference. Associated Press asks whether he has a message for Soviet Communist Party leader Brezhnev on his 70th birthday. With a mischievous smile Bukovsky says: “Brezhnev is to be exchanged for Chilean head of state Pinochet.”
“Bukovsky, when you see him in real life in front of you, is even thinner than on screen,” reports Pastor Voss. “But not only his eyes shine, his voice sounds strong and clear. His thought process is razor-sharp. When answering the questions he shines. Soon he draws bursts of laughter from his audience.”
After just over an hour the conference is broken off. Bukovsky looks very tired. At that press conference, Bukovsky could have publicly denounced the treatment he had been subjected to. But he has only one goal: to inform the world public of the fate of political prisoners in the Soviet Union. It is also difficult for him to determine the number of those suffering in high-security prisons, in the KGB psychiatric institutions and in the Gulags. He is certain that their numbers are not diminishing and that their treatment has become even worse since the Helsinki Agreement.
Helsinki turned out to be “a Soviet ruse” to keep the West's vigilance at bay and “to prevent it from interfering in the internal affairs of the USSR.” After Helsinki the prisoners were not allowed to receive even communist newspapers from abroad. He himself, he explains, had never been a communist, but he had resolved to do everything in his power to defend human rights guaranteed by the laws of the communist countries, which in practice are trampled underfoot.
He speaks as a man whose heart is heavy, and who had been condemned to silence for years. All are surprised by the clarity of his answers, his intelligence that never gets bogged down in details but strives for comprehensive syntheses, his objectivity that excludes with all emotive accents. Even at this first encounter with the Western world, he speaks of himself only in answering direct questions and then only to describe the general situation. “At this moment when I am speaking to you”, he explains, “thirty of my imprisoned comrades have started a hunger strike. Seventy-five percent of the strikers suffer from stomach ulcers. Among them are those suffering from tuberculosis and heart disease. Antoniuk has recently suffered a heart attack. This strike may lead to his death.”
“There is no use calling for a doctor. If you bang on the cell doors, a guard will appear. ‘What's this noise?!’ —‘We need a doctor!’ — ‘All you need is to stay calm!’ If the guards are afraid the prisoners might break down the door, they call their boss. Sometimes a doctor would appear. Why these strikes? In order to ensure that political prisoners are treated in accordance with international rules. Since Helsinki we have even been deprived of the right to receive and read books, even if they are communist books. People are going on hunger strikes in order to alert the world opinion.” (International Herald Tribune, 19.12.1976).
“The grace period for this small family, which had been spat out of a special aircraft of the Soviet state, does not last long. Journalists have found out where they are staying. They are now taking up rooms at Hotel Söbnenberg.
Volodya has expressed the wish that Vladim Delauny and Natalia Gorbanevskaya stay with them in their rooms. They are the first people with whom the Bukovskys exchange ideas in their mother tongue on the basis of shared experiences and memories. But there is hardly any time for conversations with the friends. The telephone rings non-stop. The journalists — although they mean well — make life hell.” (Voss).
Only the Christmas holidays bring a little peace. On December 30 Volodya wants to celebrate his 34th birthday quietly — his first birthday as a free man since 1971. Mrs. Voss is preparing a party with her close family and friends. She manages to keep the place where it is being held secret until December 30. But some journalist has found out where it was going to be.
“This time the journalists are adverse to us,” says Pastor Voss. “But we are putting on a good face, which is not a very pleasant game. Now we have to convince Bukovsky of the necessity to appear in front of the cameras for at least two minutes. But he does not want to. He is angry and indignant. An English television company has already occupied the dining room in which the celebration is to take place and set up all the equipment. I manage to get the journalists out into another room. But now Volodya has to appear before the camera. He comes, albeit without the usual cheer. He seems very tired. Then the haunting with the halogen spotlights is over. The celebration begins. He sits next to his friends. Delauny is there. Telnikov has come from London, Levitin from Lucerne. Natasha Gorbanevskaya, who has worked hard over the last few days — and above all has been responsible for the press contacts — will be leaving later on today to return to Paris. Cornelia Gerstenmaier, who of all individuals outside the Soviet Union has probably done most for Bukovsky, talks to a woman who visits Misha in hospital. Nina Ivanovna exchanges thoughts with a friend who has recently moved to Paris... The party is “like Moscow” say the Russians. I find it very Swiss.” (Voss).
On his birthday, Vladimir Bukovsky received his Swiss papers and can now think about his planned trip to England. He will depart on January 4.
Bukovsky can be satisfied with the reception the received in Switzerland. The federal, cantonal and city authorities of Zurich handled the asylum matter at the highest level within just a few days: with attention, courtesy and — Soviet subjects can hardly believe it — love, comments Pastor Voss. The newly elected President of the Swiss Confederation received the man who had escaped from the Soviet dungeon for an audience. In Switzerland, which is traditionally neutral, people are not as fearful as in the Federal Republic. The medical examination revealed malnutrition. The doctor demanded rest.
But Bukovsky can hardly find rest in the West in the days after his arrival. Moreover, his efforts to help fellow sufferers continue all the more now. Already in Zurich he answered the question of how the prisoners could defend themselves, and he replied that everything depended on forwarding the information to the West: names, accusations, charges. This applies first and foremost to those detained in special psychiatric institutions. If they do not succeed in making a connection with “the outside,” they end up being buried alive. Complaints are pointless, although the right to complain is guaranteed by law. Usually everything happens behind closed doors. Complaints end up with the bodies against which they are lodged. Reprisals are then undertaken.
Recently, it has even been forbidden to complain to “non-competent” bodies. What is important is the behaviour of the accused during the trial, even if the trial is held in camera. The judge may be thrown off balance by defense invoking certain sections of the Penal Code which have been violated at preliminary hearings.
The types of detention imposed on Bukovsky have almost always been reprisals for what was called “abusive information” during the trials. He used his own experience to help others and paid dearly for this. The “green book” he was able to bring back from Moscow is not only a register of facts, but an indictment that will make a lot of ink flow. It is not for nothing that Vladimir Bukovsky keeps repeating: “Nothing frightens the Soviet authorities as much as the truth.”
The unleashing of all Soviet mass media against the “criminal” Vladimir Bukovsky must finally reaffirm his importance as a precious hostage who had been exchanged for a “historical” communist leader and personally brought to Zurich by the first deputy of the Head of the KGB Baranov. What Radio Liberty immediately reported to the Eastern Bloc cannot be kept secret there in the long run either, because the news still gets through, even in spite the 3,000 signal jamming stations.
On December 23, Pravda declared that “Corvalan's dungeon bars have burst under the blows of the powerful wave of international solidarity.” It adds: “Other patriots are still being held in the prisons and camps. The fight for their liberation continues.” The TASS news agency constantly publishes attacks against Bukovsky, but does not recognise the exchange.
Not a word about human trafficking... But on 25 December Izvestia starts: “Bukovsky is a common criminal, an agent paid by the foreign anti-communists, a man with bandit manners who is portrayed as a martyr of truth.” The other communist newspapers join the chorus. And when Corvalan finally spoke at a meeting organised in his honour on 4 January 1977, he carefully avoided mentioning the man who was the price paid for his release.
VLADIMIR BUKOVSKY: AN INTERVIEW
While still on Swiss soil, Vladimir Bukovsky gave an interview to Vladimir Vesely, a staff writer at the ZDF Magazine, which was published on December 22. We pick out some of Bukovsky’s explanations:
Vesely: You were the first to inform the world about the incarceration of dissidents in Soviet psychiatric institutions. Why was this system invented in the Soviet Union?
Bukovsky: That is very characteristic of demagogy — the hypocrisy that reigns in the Soviet Union. The fact that there are people there who are consciously and clearly thinking and fighting against the system, that they recognise its flaws, is a very difficult state of affairs for Soviet ideology. From a Marxist point of view, man is only a product of his environment. Being determines consciousness, and now after 60 years of socialist being an anti-socialist consciousness is suddenly emerging. The only solution to this problem is this: people with such a consciousness must simply lack reason.
Such an explanation is, of course, very convenient for the Soviet authorities. Everything such person says is a product of his sick imagination and only brings harm to society. It is very easy to get even with him. By declaring that he is dangerous for his fellow men, that he is a sick person who can be arrested and locked up in a hospital, in a prison. This way one can avoid all questions regarding different political opinions and positions.
Vesely: Why do you consider the Soviet system inhumane?
Bukovsky: I was able to observe the practice of the system from an early age. I was 12 years old when Stalin died, and two years later we learned what had happened under his rule. The authorities themselves felt compelled to speak openly about it. So millions of people in the Soviet Union — especially the younger generation — were faced with the question of how such a terrible state could come into being, a state in which millions of people perished and nobody knows what they were sacrificed for. Of course, I was not satisfied with the official explanation. I could not believe, and I think no one could believe it at all, that a single person, Stalin alone, should be guilty. It was not difficult to conclude that the system as a whole was guilty. And the older I got, the more evidence I found for this simple uncomplicated train of thought… Those who have been involved in putting the teaching into practice, for them, the humanitarian considerations do not exist at all.
On the Helsinki Agreement, Bukovsky said the following:
For the Soviet Union, the policy of détente is a way of gaining recognition. It wants to use it to cleanse itself of its past stained with murder and blood. In a way, it wants to rehabilitate itself before the entire world and force itself to enter, shall we say, the “global salon”. The West is still the Soviet Union's number one enemy today. I do not see any significant change in their policy in this respect. In my opinion, the Soviet Union is using the Helsinki Agreement as an alibi to demand that the world should be able to see that everything that happens within the Soviet Union — all crimes, all violations of civil rights, all acts of violence and lawlessness — is considered an internal matter for the Soviet Union. It is an attempt to reach an unspoken agreement under which all actions by the KGB and the other penal organs in the Soviet Union would be calmly accepted. I believe that the West must not accept such an interpretation.
Asked how the West should behave toward the Soviet Union, Bukovsky said he did not want to impose his advice on the West. Nor does he want the West to isolate itself completely from the Soviet Union and build a wall between itself and the USSR. “But the Western world should recognise the full extent of the danger it faces in the shape of the Soviet Union. The West must understand that it must not disarm ideologically under any circumstances. .... I hope that the Western world will have enough moral strength not to fear the predatory Soviet military power. The West's highest moral duty should be to defend its human ideals, whether it does so fearfully or fearlessly. Of course I do not want war. But who said that the only alternative to détente was war? That is a lie. Why should we think a third way is impossible? Why should rejection of détente inevitably lead to war? I see no logic in such an argument. After all, the policy of détente is more recent. Since 1953 or 1954 there had been no policy of détente. But there was no war either.”
The German public warmly welcomed the activist of the struggle for human rights, Vladimir Bukovsky. In contrast, the Federal Government, supported by the Social Democrats and the Free Democrats, reacted more than reservedly to Bukovsky's initial statements in the West. Their “Ostpolitik” should under no circumstances be endangered.
A report in a lapidary tone in the Frankfurter Rundschau: “As a matter of principle, the German government does not “adopt” the “negative” attitude of the Soviet regime critic Vladimir Bukovsky. It seems embarrassed to hear the truth from the mouth of a persecuted person. In a letter to State Secretary Bölling, the Society for Human Rights feels compelled to ask why the German government of all countries feels called upon to make such a statement. Bukovsky had neither asked the Federal Government for political asylum, nor addressed it with his statements. His departure from the USSR had not come about either through the initiative or at the instigation of the Federal Government. On the contrary, in recent years Bonn, instead of publicly or diplomatically supporting Bukovsky, has responded stereotypically to requests regarding Bukovsky from German citizens, stating that an intervention “is not possible for legal and political reasons.” Given the always passive attitude towards the Bukovsky case, Bonn would be well advised to continue to exercise restraint. Indeed, given the means available to a government, it does not require courage to question the statements of a released prisoner. In view of this passivity, there was no thought of Bukovsky being received by the Federal Chancellor or his office. Nevertheless, criticism of the Federal Government's behaviour does not appear to have been entirely fruitless, as the dissident Andrei Amalrik, who had been expatriated from the Soviet Union, was received in Bonn at the beginning of March 1977 at least by Minister of State Wischnewski from the Federal Chancellery.”
Note: CDU opposition leader Kohl had received Amalrik for a one-hour conversation. When Amalrik made a public appearance for civil rights in Paris, the police came and prevented the demonstration. “The democratic governments of the free world oscillate between embarrassment and sympathy, fruit and expediency considerations” Matthias Walden aptly wrote in Welt am Sonntag on February 27, 1977.
On Sunday, January 23, 1977, Vladimir Bukovsky faced the German public in the Federal Republic for the first time in Frankfurt-am-Main in the presence of television, radio and the press. The Society for Human Rights has booked the hall of the Frankfurt Dominican Monastery, the largest hall available, for a panel discussion with him on the Soviet civil rights activists and political prisoners in the USSR. The large hall turned out to be much too small. It filled up in such a way that the crowd overflowed the building and swells up to the cloakroom in the anteroom. Around 2,000 people came to see and hear Vladimir Bukovsky. With him sat appointed interlocutors at the long table in the rostrum:
The 33-year-old writer Siegmar Faust, a man whom the communists tried to “cure”, and who got to know the GDR “from behind and from below,” after which he was sentenced in 1974 to four and a half years in prison for “subversive incitement to hatred,” but then was released before completing his full term; Nikolaus Lobkowicz, aristocrat belonging to the Austrian high nobility, who was born as a Czech in Prague in 1931, left his homeland in 1948 when the communists seized power, was stateless for a long time and finally became an American and a university lecturer in the USA; Ludwig Martin, who between 1953-1963 served as a Federal Judge at the Federal Supreme Court and then as Attorney General, whose successor, Attorney General Siegfried Buback, was murdered by terrorists; Countess von Dönhoff, editor of the weekly newspaper Die Zeit and winner of the Peace Prize of the German Book Trade. Cornelia Gerstenmaier, serving as the head of the panel discussion, presented Bukovsky, for whose release she had worked so hard, and who is an outstanding witness to the sides of Soviet reality that Moscow would like to hide from the rest of the world.
Prisons, camps and special psychiatric institutions could not break Bukovskhy’s charisma. Here we are presenting excerpts from the panel discussion.
Statement by Bukovsky:
Dear friends! I have come from a country where everything is forbidden, except what is specifically indicated as being allowed. Where it is not forbidden to have any political convictions, but where it is forbidden to make these political convictions known. And that in itself is a crime. I have come from a country where people are either not allowed to leave at all or are taken out in handcuffs. I come from a country where there are 250 million political prisoners. I am sure that I will find the greatest interest in our problems here in Germany, because here people know best how easy it is to lose freedom, how difficult it is to regain freedom. No violence and no conspiracy can give people their freedom back. The process of reclaiming freedom is a slow process; it is a process of liberation of the people, and in this respect I am sure that your support and your sympathies are extremely important for us in the Soviet Union. We have always felt that support and sympathy here over all these years. We were guessing that you were supporting us from the way our wardens were looking at us. We could guess this support in the malice of our administration, in the fear of those in power. I am sure that now that we have won this great victory, we must redouble our efforts.
Countess von Dönhoff to Bukovsky: As you said, there are practically 250 million political prisoners in the Soviet Union. After this long period of time, how would you judge their state of mind, is it a state of resignation, adaptation or hope for change?
Bukovsky: In the course of many decades, the tyranny of the communist rulers destroyed many millions of people. Yes, of course this gave birth to fear and disbelief in any possibility of liberation. But now, little by little, we are beginning to see the process of people's inner liberation, and this process has found expression in the movement for human rights. Despite all the reprisals by those in power, it is no longer possible to stop this process. Under pressure from the world public opinion, the communist dictators are forced to release their prisoners. And in this way they officially confess to the whole world the existence of political prisoners in their country. In this way, they have demonstrated the international nature of the problem. When the existence of political prisoners is recognised throughout the world, this will lead to a new wave of development of the human rights movement in the Soviet Union and other Eastern European countries.
Faust to Bukovsky: I would like to ask a question regarding the civil rights campaigners and the uncomfortable communists of the Prague Spring (Dubtek, Havemann, Biermann from the GDR), because there is an interdependency. Which goes so far that self-liberation is not possible. The events in the CSSR have shown that. And economically the GDR is too dependent, for example, because we get almost 90% and 100% of our iron ore and oil from the Soviet Union, so that the human rights movement seems almost pointless. Even if there is no hope for us that the great change will come from the Soviet Union, and I would like to know whether there is any interaction between the two — whether (in the USSR) the civil rights campaigners from the GDR and the CSSR are known at all and what influence people like Biermann and Havemann have on this movement.
Bukovsky: It is certain that there is a close link between the movement for human rights in the Eastern European countries and in the Soviet Union. A tremendous impetus had been given to our movement in the post-Stalin era by movements in the Eastern European countries. We can regard these movements in the Eastern European countries as the beginning and source of our movement. As our movement grew, it also had an influence on the movements in the Eastern European countries. In 1968, when Soviet troops invaded Czechoslovakia, and thousands of people in the Soviet Union protested against it.
Hundreds of people were imprisoned, in prisons and in concentration camps. I met Soviet soldiers who at that time refused to take part in these events against Czechoslovakia. And now, for our part, our movement for the defense of human rights is helping the human rights movements in the countries of Eastern Europe. When I now think of my imprisoned comrades, I am by no means forgetting those imprisoned in Yugoslavian prisons who have now gone on hunger strike. Nor do I in any way forget the political prisoners in Czechoslovakia who are now under investigation. I am thinking of the political internees in the GDR. At the moment our movement and our cause are a common cause, and only by joining forces can we achieve victory.
Prof. Lobkowicz to Bukovsky: You were in prison for 12 years. On what grounds, on what variety of grounds, do you think people who are not criminals are arrested and sentenced in the Soviet Union? Secondly, we observe the amazing phenomenon that individuals, including civil rights activists, such as Sakharov, do not have to go to prison. Can you tell us where the borders are on this?
Bukovsky: Freedoms are never given, they are won! Everything we achieved in the Soviet Union was not achieved thanks to the government, but in spite of the government! The Soviet government tried every method in the fight against the movement for the defense of human rights. The government put us in prison, in concentration camps, in psychiatric clinics, banished us to Siberia, forcibly transported us abroad. But the movement grew and strengthened. There is no border between prison and freedom. In the Soviet Union any person can be arrested at any moment.
Former Attorney General Martin to Bukovsky: I would be interested to have an answer to the following: On what grounds does the leadership of the Soviet Union justify not putting into daily practice the so-called “Basket Three” of the Helsinki decisions, i.e. freedom of information, freedom of movement of citizens, and the content of the great international convention on civil and political rights, on economic, social and cultural rights? The GDR leadership does this on the grounds that these decisions and pacts do not create direct rights for citizens, whereas we in the West believe that people can derive direct rights from these pacts. The GDR says that if these pacts are binding, then only for the government, and it is up to the government to decide to what extent it wants to convert the content of these decisions into laws and concede the corresponding freedoms to the citizen.
Bukovsky: At the beginning of the Helsinki Conference, the Soviet Government often stated and printed in the newspapers that the agreement did not require the Soviet Union to change anything in its internal structure, but rather that the Western countries should do so. The Soviet Government's interpretation of the term “non-interference in internal affairs” is extremely broad. The flow of free information, attempts by individuals to help human rights activists in the Soviet Union, a public and honest expression of disapproval by individuals and organisations in the West, are all interpreted as interference in internal affairs. In this sense, signing CSCE decisions by the Soviet Union has not given us anything, we have only lost.
Countess von Dönhoff to Bukovsky: Mr. Bukovsky says that civil rights activists, or even citizens in the Soviet Union, have gained nothing from the Helsinki decisions. But we see in the last few months formation of the Helsinki Committees in the Soviet Union, the Civil Rights Committee in Lithuania a few weeks ago, in Poland the Committee to Help Workers Convicted in June — where does all this come from? It seems to me that it comes from the fact that the Final Act was signed by all the countries involved, including the Soviet Union, and that this is why the Soviet citizens saw that they have legitimacy when they demand rights, that they have rights and not just duties, and that is, I think, something where it must be said that the West for once helped the civil rights movement. Or would you see it differently? And if so, why?
Bukovsky: We in the Soviet Union have never had a lack of laws to refer to! We invoked the Soviet Constitution, which also guarantees many freedoms, many rights. We invoked the UN Charter, various conventions signed by the Soviet Union. And if my comrades in the Soviet Union and other Eastern European countries are now referring to the CSCE Final Act, it is not because there are no other documents and laws. And if they are now referring to this Act, it is not thanks to the government, but despite the government.
Prof. Lobkowicz to Bukovsky: I think Bukovsky has accused us in the West of cowardice and opportunism, and he is right! When I think that the American Secretary of State did not dare to receive Solzhenitsyn. When I think that there has been no sign from our Federal Government towards Bukovsky… But we do want to hear as much as possible from Mr. Bukovsky about his own experiences. You were in a psychiatric clinic. Under what conditions? When, how do you get into a psychiatric hospital and how were you treated as a political prisoner in a psychiatric hospital? Can you give us an account of this?
Bukovsky: To answer the question why some supporters of the human rights movement are in prisons and others in psychiatric hospitals, one would have to take a closer look at the atmosphere, at the political regulations that exist in the Soviet Union. I am afraid you would find it very difficult to understand this, because our countries are like two very different worlds. If different political theories are inductively generated in the West as a generalisation of existing experience, in the Soviet Union it is the other way round — there is a doctrine, and in accordance with this doctrine, facts of life are created. If any fact of life does not correspond to the existing theory, it is simply destroyed. According to the official doctrine, consciousness is shaped by being. According to this doctrine, socialism has been built in the Soviet Union. And the society there is supposedly in the process of building communism. So the people, the people who live in the socialist and communist society cannot have any other consciousness other than socialist consciousness. And really, where are those who believe in God in the Soviet Union, when anti-religious propaganda has been flourishing for 60 years, and religious propaganda is forbidden? Where are the opponents of communism when all aspects of life are organised according to the principles of communism?
According to the official doctrine there are two explanations of this phenomenon. According to this doctrine, thinking differently can either be the result of being bribed by Western imperialism, and then the dissenters are paid agents of imperialism. And the other explanation is that dissent is a pathological process. There is no other logical explanation, according to the prevailing doctrine. If for any reason it is not advisable to put a dissident in the first category as an agent of imperialism, he automatically falls into the second category as a mentally ill person. The psychiatrists have no choice but to make the diagnosis which best suits the psychological make-up of the person concerned. If the patient is a stubborn patient, then he is paranoid. If he gives in, he is schizophrenic.
Former Federal Prosecutor General Martin to Bukovsky: You have said before that the Soviet Union rejects any criticism of human rights violations as interference in the internal affairs of the Soviet Union. Now we see time and again, I would almost like to say day after day, that the Soviet Union or other Eastern powers believe that they have to criticise conditions in Western countries, especially the Federal Republic of Germany. How can this schizophrenia be explained? And I would like to ask in a moment what the Soviet leadership thinks about the concept of peaceful coexistence or détente?
Bukovsky: I can only judge from the Soviet press and from the few conversations I have had with Soviet officials. The Soviet leadership considers it its legitimate right to continue the ideological struggle which the Soviet leadership calls class struggle. All the political processes connected with so-called détente are very important for the Soviet Union because they hinder its ideological struggle which the Soviet leadership calls class struggle.
They are supposed to preserve their entire, vast empire created through robbery. The exchange of ideas and people is understood very formally. Of course, the Soviet government is interested in exchanges such as meetings of trade union officials or representatives of party organisations because such exchanges help them become respectable. In exchange for genuine representatives of the working class from the Federal Republic of Germany, the Soviet leadership sends government-appointed, government-controlled government officials. Can this improve understanding between nations? It only makes the fake Soviet trade unions presentable. The same can be said about other official exchanges of people and delegations. In this respect, it seems to me not quite clear what the Western powers meant when they signed such an agreement. What were they expecting?
Former Federal Prosecutor General Martin to Bukovsky: In the documentation that Mrs. Gerstenmaier has published about you, it is said that at the time of your trial the judgment had been made in advance, before the trial took place. For us Westerners such a thing is unimaginable. In our Western democratic view, the judge is independent. He is not bound to take instructions from any governmental authority and must judge according to his convictions. If the judgement is fixed from the outset, as this documentation states, this means that the Soviet judge is in reality not a judge but a law enforcement officer. And a small supplementary question: you made some very courageous statements in court. Could you see your remarks making a certain personal impression on some of the judges?
Bukovsky: Perhaps I must disappoint the Professor a little. In the Soviet Union the laws are excellent. The Soviet judges are independent from the government according to the law. However, all judges in the Soviet Union are members of the communist party, and according to the statute of the communist party, all decisions are taken on the basis of democratic centralism. Therefore, before the court meets, a party meeting is held to take decisions on the basis of democratic centralism. The judge is not allowed to violate existing laws or party discipline. The result is a prefabricated judgment, approved and stamped by the party. All that remains is to listen politely to the accused and then read out the prepared verdict. A week before my trial, my judge told me, rubbing his hands, “At last we are rid of you for twelve years!”
Question from the audience: My question is addressed simultaneously to Mr. Bukovsky and Mr. Faust, if possible. And that is: To give you an example, the communist mathematician Leonid Plyushch was released from the USSR due to a campaign by the communist party and the French Mathematicians' Association, and Wolf Biermann was also granted an exit visa due to a campaign by IG Metall and parts of the SPD. How do you estimate the importance of the labour movement organisations for the civil rights activists in the USSR and also in other Eastern European countries? I mean for example the socialist parties in France or the SPD.
Bukovsky: The civil rights movement in the Soviet Union has no fixed political model. All we want to achieve is to educate the public about political events and give people the opportunity to express their opinions freely.
We are not, and I hope we will not in the future be, bound by particularly close relations with any political camp. We do not belong to the conservative camp, we do not belong to the socialist camp, we belong to the concentration camp. That is why we agree to cooperate with all open, honest political organisations in the West which are trying to support us in our struggle and have the same goals as we do. I am aware of the actions of the Committee of Mathematicians in France, which stood up for Plyushch and for me. We greatly appreciate these efforts and hope for further cooperation. The question of the attitude of the working class in the Soviet Union is now of particular importance. The human rights movement is now gradually going beyond the scope of intellectual freedoms, and here we urgently need the help of all organisations from the West which see the cause of the working class as their own.
Question from the floor to Mr Bukovsky: Why in the Soviet Union do people like you and everyone else in the psychiatric hospitals were not simply switched off, because medically this is possible?
Bukovsky: In the course of 60 years they have tried to shut us down and they have destroyed 60 million people. But this did not wipe out people's desire for freedom.
Applause followed Bukovsky's remarks. Cordiality, kindness and even humour were evident in the words of this man who was so tormented for his defence of fundamental rights of human beings. His liver, stomach, eyes, were severely damaged. He looks older than he is. His face bears the marks of what he has been through. He endures the fact that press photographers, and television people surround him like a swarm of wasps, which finally had to be driven away by the audience who also wanted to see the speaker. He even smiled from time to time, even though after his flight from the terrible world of concentration camps he still does not orientat himself well in the completely different Western world. To be on the safe side, the number of stewards has been increased, but no communists had come. Apparently they are shying away from direct confrontation with this witness of torture methods in the “paradise of workers and peasants.” So there have been no disturbances whatsoever.
Bukovsky had arrived in Germany on January 20. During a meeting with representatives of the German PEN Club, among them Heinrich Böll, in Bonn, he was presented with the honorary membership certificate of the German PEN Club, after the French Club had already honoured him. The evening ended with a private dinner with the CDU chairman and opposition leader Dr. Helmut Kohl.
The next day was also filled with encounters: In the morning — a visit to the Bundeshaus, a discussion with Richard von Weizsäcker and Dr. Werner Marx, followed by a visit to a debate in the Bundestag at noon — a one-hour discussion with the President of the German Bundestag, Professor Dr. Karl Karstens (CDU), followed by a discussion with the Chairman of the CSU, Franz Josef Strauß. The meeting with the leaders of the opposition came about at the suggestion of third parties. A meeting with Willy Brandt, which had been suggested by Dutch social democratic parliamentarians, did not take place, as he “apologised for lack of time.” In the afternoon, a two-hour briefing with leading representatives of the German press took place over a tea.
In the evening of January 22 Mr Bukovsky met with the Bonn working group of the Society for Human Rights, which has been particularly active in supporting him.
After the panel discussion on January 23, an hour and a half of discussion took place in the evening between Bukovsky and Frankfurt's Lord Mayor Rudi Arndt.
January 24th brought further encounters and an interview for the Second German Television, which will be broadcast on January 30th. Before the actual interview, a film has been shown to give a concise short story of revolts against the East Bloc regimes. When East Berlin workers took to the streets on 16 and 17 July 1953, spurred on by coercive and excessive labour standards, they set a first signpost for rebellion against the totalitarian regimes of the Eastern Bloc. Stalin had died three months earlier, and his successor Malenkov had promised more freedom and better living conditions as part of the so-called new course. In Berlin alone, the number of those who took part in the demonstration swelled to 50,000. In total, there were around 300,000 people, mainly workers. When, after bloody clashes, when the People's Police were unable to control the situation, the Soviet occupying power with its armed forces — a tank and a motorised rifle division stifled the uprising.
In October 1956, workers who had started the Poznan Uprising in June were on trial in Poland. In the course of the process of de-stalinisation initiated by Khrushchev, they had demanded higher wages and more say in this matter. They had stormed party headquarters, offices of the secret police and prisons. The uprising was crushed. There were 50 dead and 300 injured.
Inspired by the June Uprising in Poznan, critics of the Hungarian regime also rose up against the party dictatorship in October 1956. Intellectuals and youth organisations, which were later joined by workers and soldiers, demanded more rights of freedom and a complete rejection of Stalinism. Despite the intervention of Soviet troops, the uprising could not be suppressed at first, but spread throughout the country. Hungary declared itself a neutral state and abandoned the Warsaw Pact. After a deceptive manoeuvre by the Soviet leadership, Budapest became surrounded by the Red Army tanks. Ten days later the uprising collapsed in the face of overwhelming Soviet superiority.
Twelve years later, the demand for more democracy was at the heart of the so-called Prague Spring. The man who was prepared to introduce appropriate reforms, albeit hesitantly and cautiously: Alexander Dubtcek, became the symbol of the Czechoslovak experiment. When it became clear that the Czechoslovak Communists were ready to open up to the West, to put an end to totalitarian party rule and the dictatorship of the proletariat, the allied forces of the Warsaw Pact, led by Soviet tanks, put an abrupt end to this development. The invasion of Czechoslovakia had certain foreign policy consequences. In particular, it delayed a number of so-called détente measures which the Soviet Union had sought to introduce.
The CSCE met in Helsinki only in 1975 after long negotiations. There, under pressure from the non-communist states, the party leaders of the Eastern Bloc felt compelled to sign the Helsinki Final Act, which included the demand for more human rights and freedoms. This was the price they had to pay for the desired recognition of the territorial status quo in Europe.
One day after the Helsinki Final Act was signed, Moscow's Pravda, followed by all the party organs of the Eastern European Communist Parties, published the full text of the document in millions of copies. The civil rights movement could henceforth rely in particular on the following passage of the Final Act: “The participating States will respect human rights and fundamental freedoms, including freedom of thought, conscience, religion or belief, for everyone without distinction of race, sex, language or religion. They will promote and encourage the effective exercise of civil, political, economic, social, cultural and other rights and freedoms.”
Similar commitments, as we heard from Bukovsky, were already contained in the national constitutions of the Eastern European states, albeit with arbitrary restrictions. For example, Article 125 of the Soviet Constitution states that “In accordance with the interests of working people and with the aim of consolidating the socialist social order, the citizens of the USSR shall be guaranteed by law: a) freedom of expression, b) freedom of the press, c) freedom of assembly, d) freedom of demonstration.”
In view of the relentless persecution of dissenters, these guarantees of freedom sound like pure mockery. Moreover, as we know, both the Soviet Union and the other Eastern Bloc countries signed and ratified the UN Convention on Human Rights of 19 December 1966, to which civil rights campaigners also refer time and again.
Article 19 of this international act guarantees: “Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.”
In spite of all national and international laws, the Soviet Union has not shied away from forcing a number of citizens who invoke these laws to leave the country through reprisals, the most famous cases being that of the Nobel Prize winner for Literature Alexander Solzhenitsyn; the historian and author of the book Can the Soviet Union Survive Until 1984? Andrei Amalrik; the mathematician Leonid Plyushch, who, as a healthy person, was held in special psychiatric clinics for the longest time; and the writer and editor-in-chief of the Continent magazine Vladimir Maximov.
Many other Soviet civil rights activists and dissidents, the commentary goes on to say, are in prisons, in camps, in special psychiatric clinics or are subjected to constant threats and intimidation. For example, the nuclear physicist and Nobel Peace Prize winner Professor Andrei Sakharov, the highly decorated and now seriously ill former Major General Pyotr Grigorenko, the chairman of the so-called Soviet Union Helsinki Group, Professor Yuri Orlov, the author of the shocking book My Statements Anatoly Marchenko and his wife Larissa Daniel, who protested on Moscow's Red Square against the invasion of Czechoslovakia.
When asked, Bukovsky confirmed in the course of the interview that the names of civil rights activists that have become known in the West are only the tip of an iceberg. To stop the entire movement, the Soviet Union would have to destroy not only the tip of this iceberg, but the iceberg itself.
Having failed to destroy the tip of the iceberg over the last ten years, to do anything about it the authorities would have to return to mass repression, i.e. to the days of Stalin, which the Soviet Union is unlikely to be prepared to do, because the Stalin era taught it that if terror is started against a part of the population, it will soon flood the entire country.
For now it is too early to talk about any kind of political programme for the civil rights movement. “All we want at the moment is to give the people of the Soviet Union the opportunity to express their views, to inform the public about everything that is going on in the Soviet Union. And in a sense, our political programme today is the Declaration of Human Rights.”
Question to Bukovsky: Do the civil rights activists who remain in the Soviet Union see themselves as a group, a force which stands on the ground of Soviet laws, which works, which makes demands? Are they not basically dissidents, but a legal opposition?
Bukovsky: The word dissident was invented by the Western press. All my friends are against this word. It is not a question of us being delimited in any particular political line. We have never been part of the official communist line.
Bukovsky further explains that some people consider the present order to be unlawful, while others want to restore legality. In any case, the fight for the application of the laws, including those that leave something to be desired, is a big step forward for civil rights activists. The civil rights movement in the USSR and Eastern Europe had led the authorities there into a dead end. For example, in Moscow and many other cities, texts of human rights conventions have been confiscated as criminal documents during house searches.
On the question of how seriously the renewed intimidation of Sakharov should be taken, Cornelia Gerstenmaier said: “It is difficult to say what will happen. You can never make predictions. But what will happen will of course depend largely on the West, on the reaction of world public opinion. This has been shown to us by various examples in recent years, such as the example of Solzhenitsyn and the example of Bukovsky and a few others. The behaviour of those in power toward Sakharov and other eminent and well-known civil rights activists is not like behavioiur of the Hungarian ruler. Sakharov and a few of his acquaintances are only somewhat spared because they are the focus of the public’s attention across the world. It is therefore extremely important that this interest and the protests should be maintained, and that the efforts of the highest authorities should be maintained too.”
And once again the policy of détente comes up for discussion. Cornelia Gerstenmaier points out that “the policy of détente to date has largely been a policy of unilateral charity on the part of the West, which has so far brought little or no benefit to the democratic, i.e. freedom-oriented forces in the countries of Eastern Europe. And it seems to me extremely dangerous to lose sight of the oppressed minorities in the course of this policy, because only these minorities, these democratically oriented forces, can guarantee genuine détente.”
Just like Bukovsky, she too believes that the argument which has been used to launch the policy of détente in the West is false, even hypocritical: War or peace. “For peace does not only find its alternative in war, but there are also other forms of violence — the occupation of Czechoslovakia is one such form of violence, but also the constant suppression of liberal forces in the the Soviet Union and other Eastern European countries... If this is not decisively incorporated into Western policy, then détente as it has been practiced up to now seems to me not only useless, but even harmful. The very sad status quo has been established. Now we can say that the Helsinki declarations are only declarations of intent. They are not binding under international law, and they can make a difference. Since we have Helsinki, and we have to live with it in the form in which it was signed, we should try to get what we can out of it, i.e. to make it so that future historians do not have to equate the spirit of Helsinki with the spirit of Munich.”
Bukovsky reiterated the deterioration in the situation of political prisoners in the USSR following the signing of the agreement which the Soviet Union. It was only signed when a status quo recognised everything that the USSR had devoured in Eastern Europe.
The presenter of the programme closed with a statement by Professor Yuri Orlov of the Helsinki Group: “Everything depends on how far we dissidents are willing to sacrifice ourselves. It also depends on how you in the Western world are really prepared to fight for us. I do not think the Western world really knows how important liberalisation in Eastern Europe is for the future of the entire world.”
Source: Andre Martin and Peter Falke, Wladimir Bukowskij: Vom Sovjetkerker ins Weisse House, Paul Pattloch Verlag, Aschaffenburg, 1977.
Translated from German by Jack Brady. Edited by Alissa Ordabai.