22 June 1978* (Pb) Shcharansky

Yury Andropov briefs Politburo on forthcoming trial of Anatoly SHCHARANSKY, arrested in mid-March the previous year. (MHG 30th anniversary) total 2 pp.



Top secret

The only copy
Working paper

June 22, 1978

Chaired by Comrade Brezhnev, L.I.

In attendance: Comrades Andropov, U.V.; Grishin, V.V.; Gromyko, A.A.; Kulakov, F.D.; Pelshe, A.Y.; Suslov, M.A.; Ustinov, D.F.; Demichev, P.N.; Kuznetsov, V.V.; Ponomarev, B.N.; Solomentsev, M.S.; Chernenko, K.U.; Dolgikh, V.I.; Ryabov, Y.P.; Rusakov, K.V.

(EXTRACT from page 14.)

  1. Information from Comrade Andropov. Yu.V., about the Shcharansky case

BREZHNEV. Comrade Andropov would like to inform the Politburo about the Shcharansky case. Let’s give him the floor.

ANDROPOV. I want to inform the Politburo that 520 people are currently imprisoned in the USSR, 110 of them on charges that have a political coloring. We will have to decide the question of Shcharansky’s trial, the preparation of which is now complete.

As we know, Carter has made a speech, saying that Shcharansky should not be held responsible. We cannot satisfy such a request, however. Shcharansky committed crimes and has to answer for them in full. He will be put on trial. But what will be the best moment? Maybe it should start on 10 July, this seems to be better. The USSR Ambassador to the United States Comrade Dobrynin also recommends such timing.

We discussed all issues concerning the organization of Shcharansky’s trial with Comrades Rudenko and Smirnov. Shcharansky admits his guilt; we exposed his spying activities and can provide appropriate evidence. He is charged under two articles of the Criminal Code for espionage (Article 64) and for betrayal of the Motherland (Article 70). His trial will take place at the same courthouse as Orlov’s. It is a good place, a club, a small audience will be suitably prepared. Shcharansky refuses to take a lawyer. He can refuse the lawyer named by the court. If he names another lawyer, and he has right to do so during the trial, then we will have to take a break for five days. Besides, we mean to publish a short report about the beginning of Shcharansky’s trial. I believe it would not be expedient to allow any foreign journalists into the trial.



EVERYBODY. Right, don’t let them in.

ANDROPOV. What’s Shcharansky’s sentence to be?

Everything depends on how he conducts himself. For example, Orlov was to be sentenced to three years imprisonment according to the article of the Criminal Code, but he behaved in such a rude way during the trial that the court was obliged to sentence him to a further seven years with subsequent exile for five years. Of course, Shcharansky will not be given the death penalty, say, but the court will give him a stem sentence of 15 years, say.

As Ambassador Comrade Dobrynin reports, Carter asked not to mention Shcharansky’s ties with the CIA. That, of course, is up to the court. We must not conceal the evidence, but perhaps we can indicate to Comrade Dobrynin certain lines he could pursue in his talk with Vance: he might let him know that the trial will be closed [to press and public], but that the court has numerous materials about Shcharansky’s connections with the CIA. The Soviet court is very democratic, but everything will depend on how the defendant behaves; that also counts.

Comrade Andropov’s information was taken into consideration.

[signature at very bottom of the page] K. Bogomolov



Central Repository for Contemporary Documents (TsKhCD) in Moscow:
Document Group 89; Repository 42; Document 72; 4 pp. (Copy No __ , 4 January 1994).

Translated by National Security Archives.


Anatoly Shcharansky was arrested in mid-March 1977 and his trial postponed until a more politically suitable moment. He was prosecuted in July 1978 and sentenced to 13 years’ imprisonment (see the report of his trial in A Chronicle of Current Events, pp. 54-69).