1 April 1978* (785-A) Trials

Joint memorandum to Central Committee from KGB, Procurator-General and ?Ministry of Justice. Delay trials of “anti-Soviet elements” — dissidents Anatoly SHCHARANSKY, Alexander GINZBURG, Yury ORLOV and Zviad GAMSAKHURDIA (and the “spies” Lubman, Filatov and Nilov) — until a politically suitable time [Russian: 1 April 1978, 785-A] total 4 pp (excerpts).


[page one of four]


To the CPSU Central Committee

The coming trials of anti-social elements



[page two]



The completed investigations into these criminal cases should have been sent to court. Bearing in mind the very important political events then taking place within the country (discussion and adoption of a new Soviet Constitution, celebration of the 60th anniversary of the October Revolution), however, and the situation surrounding the Belgrade Conference, it was recognised to be inexpedient to hold these trials in 1977.

As of today the situation does not permit the holding of judicial hearings. In particular, we have in mind the uncertainty that has appeared recently in the actions of the Adversary to discredit measures taken towards these criminals. He has significantly muted his tone in attempts to assert that the investigators supposedly do not possess substantial evidence of the guilt of those prosecuted for criminal offences. Furthermore, the US administration and propaganda organs, while not denying Shcharansky’s criminal ties with American intelligence and at the same time wishing to avoid new revelations about the CIA, are trying to convince the public that his activities were linked merely with defending “human rights “. A similar approach to justifying criminal activities by the accused is being pursued with regard to other individuals.

We also consider that more use may be made at present in propaganda operations of the intentions and arguments of the Adversary which he revealed in the preceding period, when organising various types of campaign in defence of criminals in the West. These and other favourable circumstances give us an opportunity to develop an effective tactic for organising the trials and their propaganda support.



[page three]


Since the Adversary is concentrating his main attention on attempts to discredit the hearing of the cases against Shcharansky, Ginzburg, Orlov and Gamsakhurdia it would seem expedient to begin organising the trials by publishing materials that expose the actions of the US special services in gathering information through espionage and creating in our country centres for carrying out organised anti-Soviet activities. In particular, materials from the trial of Radzhabov, the exposed agent of US intelligence, should be published in “Trud”.

Such revelations will create favourable conditions for simultaneously holding the trials of Marinovich and Matusevich in the town of Vasilkov (Kiev Region), and of Lubman in Leningrad in the second half of March. Such a combination, as part of the hearing of cases, will enable us to neutralise to a certain degree the fuss about the trials of Marinovich and Matusevich while continuing to expose the interference of American intelligence in the internal affairs of the USSR.

During the second half of May and the beginning of June it is intended to hold the remaining trials. It would be expedient to begin with the hearing of the case against Orlov in Moscow, while hearing the case against Gamsakhurdia and Kostava in Tbilisi. That combination will be justified in tactical terms since Gamsakhurdia has totally repented of the crime he committed.


[page four]


Gamsakhurdia is the son of a famous Georgian writer and has extensive connections among the creative intelligentsia. In this respect his revelations and, in particular, the exposure of the unattractive role played by American intelligence officers, acting under the cover of the US embassy in Moscow, will evoke a response favourable for us. Revelations by Gamsakhurdia will provide, in turn, the conditions for holding the judicial hearings into the cases of Ginzburg and then of Shcharansky.

Since Shcharansky is accused of treason, it would be advantageous to hold his trial together with that of Filatov and Nilov.[3] This will create additional serious grounds for exposing the espionage activities practised on Soviet territory by the CIA. These trials will be preceded by publication of the materials confiscated from US spies Peterson and Crockett when they were seized red-handed in 1977, and testify to the subversive activities of US intelligence in the USSR.


We request your agreement.

[?Andropov]   Rudenko   [??Terebilov] [2]



[1] For the trials of those mentioned here see A Chronicle of Current Events Issues 48-50 (1978).

[2] Signed by KGB chairman, the USSR Procurator-General and ?Minister of Justice.

[3] On 22 June 1978, Andropov briefed the Politburo about Shcharansky’s forthcoming trial (see translation 15, NSA “Moscow Helsinki Group 30th anniversary”, 12 May 2006)


  • Notes and additions by translator and editor are bracketed, thus [ ];
  • Text added by hand is indicated in italic script;
  • When a handwritten phrase, figure or word has been inserted in a previously typed document it is indicated by underlined italic script.

Translated and Annotated by John Crowfoot