KGB to Central Committee: the attitude of PCF and PCI (French and Italian Communist Parties) toward human rights issues. Includes information (p. 3) on conviction of dissenters in USSR (Articles 70 and 190-1) since 1958. [Russian: 29 December 1975, 3213-A] total 5 pp.
[page one of five]
USSR Committee of State Security [KGB]
of the USSR Council of Ministers
29 December 1975
To the CPSU Central Committee
Recently bourgeois propaganda has been making active use in its subversive activities directed against the Soviet Union and other socialist countries of the well-known statements by the leaders of the French and Italian Communist Parties on issues concerning Soviet democracy, the rights and liberties of citizens and the halting of activities by anti-social elements. Reports by Western radio stations about this issue have become widely known to Soviet citizens, who are expressing their perplexity at such a position by the leaders of the Communist Parties in France and Italy.
Meanwhile, the “particular” views of the leaders of these parties have led to increased activity by such hostile elements as Sakharov, [Roy] Medvedev and certain others. They consider these views display something in common with their positions on “civil rights”, the “persecution of dissenters”, and so on. Our sources report that Sakharov recently said: “The open reaction of Marchais would have been impossible without the activities of the democrats”. Among his close circle Medvedev declared: “Our views and outlook correspond to the position of the Italian communists”. It is also indicative that in her appeal to G. Marchais the wife of [Leonid] Plyushch emphasised that “Plyushch shares many of the views of Marchais” Similar quotations have been used by Solzhenitsyn to justify his anti-State activities.
The problems arising from the statements by certain leaders of the French and Italian Communist Parties, apart from their ideological and theoretical aspect, also have a practical aspect which is linked to ensuring the safety of the Soviet State.
In this instance the Friends are clearly retreating before the propagandist pressure of the Adversary. The thesis put forward by [French Communist daily] “Humanité” that freedom of action should be afforded under conditions of socialism to those who “assert their disagreement with the system devised by the majority” objectively aids the adversaries of socialism in their attempts to create within the Soviet Union and other socialist countries a legal opposition, and to undermine the leading role of the Communist and Workers’ parties.
[page two] 2.
The special services and ideological centres of imperialism are making efforts to denigrate Soviet laws, presenting them as out-dated, dogmatic and not in the spirit of international documents, in particular the [United Nations] “Declaration of Human Rights”. Anti-social elements within our country have latched on to such assertions. Unfortunately, statements that have appeared in Communist newspapers in France and Italy about democratic freedoms under socialism have echoed those charges. The real conditions of class struggle in the present period are thereby ignored, and the subversive activities of world imperialism and its spies are under-estimated.
Comrades who have made such statements, even after the events in Hungary and Czechoslovakia, do not want to see that in conditions of developed socialism, despite the monolithic and political unity of society, that anti-Soviet manifestations are still preserved in one form or another, to a greater or lesser degree.
The information we possess testifies that the special services and ideological centres of the adversary are striving to unite the actions of hostile elements of all shades. Work to create an anti-Soviet illegal newspaper, intended to be an organising centre, and is particularly active.
In its subversive activities against the Soviet Union the enemies are counting on those elements which, by reason of their former position among the exploiting classes and their politically harmful and criminal activities could become involved in anti-Soviet struggle. In our country these are the former executioners and other hirelings of the German-Fascist occupiers, the Vlasovites, participants in the gangs of the armed underground in Ukraine, the Baltic republics and Belorussia, and in certain districts of Central Asia and the North Caucasus, nationalist and other elements hostile to the Soviet system. The number of such people runs into hundreds of thousands. Many of them have expiated their guilt and are engaged in honest labour. Among such people, however, there are also those who even now will not miss a chance to harm Soviet society and, under certain circumstances, would become involved in open conflict, to the point of taking up arms.
State security is taking measures to study the situation in the said milieu and to keep an eye on the activities of individuals who harbour anti-Soviet plans. Guided by the demands of Soviet laws, the KGB is decisively halting especially dangerous State crimes.
[page three] 3.
As concerns criminal charges against the so-called “dissidents”, by which the West usually means persons prosecuted under Articles 70 (Anti-Soviet Agitation and Propaganda) and 190-1 (Circulation of knowingly false fabrications, denigrating the Soviet system) of the RSFSR Criminal Code, the figures are as follows. For the period from 1967 (Article 190-1 was introduced in September 1966) up to and including 1975, 1,583 persons were convicted under these Articles. During the previous nine-year period (1958-1966) 3,448 persons were convicted of anti-Soviet agitation and propaganda. Incidentally, in 1958, i.e. during a time, as it happens, that the West frequently refers to as the “period of liberalisation”, and when N.S. Khrushchev made his statement (27 January 1959) about the lack of “prosecutions for political crimes”, 1,416 people were convicted under Article 70, i.e. almost as many as in the past nine years [1967-1975].
As of 20 December 1975 there were 860 serving sentences in corrective-labour institutions for especially dangerous State crimes, including no more than 261 individuals for anti-Soviet agitation and propaganda who are being held in two corrective-labour colonies.
The ongoing reduction in the number of State crimes is the result of the further strengthening of the moral and political unity of Soviet society, the loyalty of Soviet people to socialism, and the decisive halting of anti-Soviet actions by hostile elements.
In accordance with the instructions of the 24th Congress of the Party and the CPSU Central Committee the agencies of State Security have been paying attention to preventive and prophylactic work to avert State crimes. Between 1971 and 1974 63,108 individuals underwent prophylactic measures. During the same period 1,839 anti-Soviet groups were suppressed in their formative stages merely through prophylactic treatment. The main measures in the activities of our agencies continue to be prophylactic.
Alongside the prophylactic measures we have continued to use investigative and other measures that do not involve criminal prosecution. We have been able to break up a number of dangerous groups of nationalist, revisionist and other anti-Soviet tendencies when they were just beginning. By compromising authoritative figures who inspired anti-social behaviour we were able to avert undesirable consequences in several regions. Such measures as depriving certain individuals of their Soviet citizenship
[page four] 4.
and expelling them from the country have also proved their worth (Solzhenitsyn, Chalidze, Maximov, Krasin, Litvinov, Yesenin-Volpin and others). Permitting many extremists to leave the Soviet Union for Israel has also facilitated an improvement in our operational situation within the country.
At the same time, it is impossible to refrain at present from the prosecution of individuals who are opposed to the Soviet system since this would lead to an increase in especially serious State crimes and anti-social manifestations. Experience shows that the activities of the “dissidents”, at first limited to anti-Soviet propaganda, in a number of cases subsequently took such dangerous forms as terrorist actions, an organised underground with the purpose of overthrowing the Soviet regime, establishing ties with foreign special services, espionage, et al.
From the above it can be seen that a rejection of active obstruction of the politically harmful activities of the “dissidents” and other hostile elements, as the French and Italian comrades wish, could provoke the most serious negative consequences. Concessions of principle on this issue, in our view, cannot be made since they would inevitably lead to additional unacceptable demands.
All of the above confirms that our Party is pursuing the correct policy in its decisive struggle “to shield Soviet society from the actions of hostile elements”. Accordingly, State security bodies will continue to decisively obstruct any anti-Soviet activities within our country. It is expedient to implement the proven policy of a reasonable combination of prophylactic and other investigative and surveillance measures with criminal prosecution in those cases where it is essential.
The KGB will follow closely to make sure that the so-called “dissidents” cannot create an organised anti-Soviet underground and carry out anti-Soviet activities, including those pursued from “legal positions” (the Sakharov “Human Rights Committee”, the Amnesty International group, the gatherings held for particular political purposes and so on).
It would be desirable at a suitable moment to hold relevant high-level discussions with French and Italian comrades  during which we shall explain to them that the struggle with the so-called “dissidents” is not an abstract issue concerning democracy but a vitally important necessity for the preserving
[page five] 5.
the security of the Soviet State. Our measures to halt the activities of the “dissidents” and other anti-Soviet elements are not in any way of a “mass” character but merely affect individuals who have not ended their activities even after the appropriate official warnings and cautions. These measures are based on the observance of socialist legality and correspond fully with Leninist theses about the development of socialist democracy. When implementing the most acute operations we pay attention, where possible, to the interests of the Friends who are working in bourgeois-democratic States.
CHAIRMAN OF THE COMMITTEE FOR STATE SECURITY
[handwritten signature] ANDROPOV
[added by hand, partially illegible]
… Politburo decision P 201/44, 14 January 1976 [see Note 1 below]
 A 23-page letter to the PCF leadership in January 1976 was followed a year later by the yet more substantial letter of 15 March 1977 (Pb 49/XV) to the same addressee. Both were subsequently circulated to 35 fraternal parties, great and small, operating legally and illegally outside the socialist bloc.
- 1. Notes and additions by translator and editor are bracketed, thus [ ];
- 2. Text added by hand is indicated in italic script;
- 3. when a handwritten phrase, figure or word has been inserted in a previously typed document it is indicated by underlined italic script.
Translated & annotated by John Crowfoot
See also Dissidents and the Soviet Regime (2006), pp. 91-95.
Source — Archive of the President of the Russian Federation
Document group 3, Repository 80, file 665, pp. 8-12. On KGB headed notepaper. Original.
АП РФ. Ф. 3. Оп. 80. Д. 665. Л. 8—12. На бланке. Подлинник.
The Russian text (No 11) and another translation (No 4) were provided on 12 May 2006 by the National Security Archive, George Washington University (Washington DC), Translation 4, 29 December 1975.
The National Security Archive also provided a snippet from Anatoly Chernyaev’s diary, responding to the information provided by Andropov.
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