The trial of Velikanova

Veteran rights activist finally prosecuted

<<  No.7 (196), 15 February 2016  >>

Velikanova, Tatyana Mikhailova

Between 5 August to 9 October 1980 (see Chronicle of Current Events, No 58) twenty two people were prosecuted in the USSR in a succession of political trials. Many of the accused were arrested the previous year. Tatyana Velikanova and Father Gleb Yakunin, the two most prominent detainees, were taken into custody on 1 November 1979, a month before the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. Their trials were delayed until after the 1980 Summer Olympics, held in Moscow that year.

These events have a disconcerting echo today. It was in 2014, after the Summer Olympics in Sochi, that Putin seized control of the Crimea and unleashed the ongoing campaign in east Ukraine.

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In 1980 some of those on trial admitted their guilt and were given reduced or suspended sentences. After a decade of reporting on Soviet political trials Tatyana Velikanova (1932-2002) took a principled stand and refused to take part in the proceedings. She received a nine-year sentence. Her refusal to accept the conditions of Gorbachev’s pardon delayed her release until the end of 1988.

For the lengthy and revealing report on her trial in A Chronicle of Current Events, the samizdat periodical she edited and distributed for years, see CCE 58.1, November 1980.

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