In Moscow, the long awaited trial of the dissident, Dr. Yuri Orlov, began on Monday?
In Moscow, the long awaited trial of the dissident, Dr. Yuri Orlov, began on Monday (14 May). Dr. Orlov faces charges of anti-Soviet agitation. He is the founder of the group which set itself up to monitor the Soviet government's observance of the Helsinki detente agreement of 1975. Because his English lawyer and a number of witnesses were not allowed to go to Moscow, his defence was being given in London, at a 'mock' trial.
SYNOPSIS: Outside the real courtroom in Moscow, a large crowd gathered. But most of them, including noted opponents of the Soviet government, such as Andrei Sakarov, were unable to get inside. The trial is the first major dissident trial since the Helsinki agreement. Orlov's family and picked an English barrister to represent him. But, because Mr. John MacDonald was not allowed to go to Moscow, he delivered the case for the defence in London. A large crowd packed the special courtroom there, including a number of prominent Soviet exiles. Mr. MacDonald told the hearing that the case for the defence was based on truth; that Dr. Orlov's allegations about abuses of human rights in the Soviet Union were true. Dr. Orlov is a prominent physicist, and his defence in London was given at the Institute of Physics.
Mr. MacDonald introduced his witnesses. One was another Andrei Amalrik, a co-founder of the Helsinki watchdog group, who now lives in the United States. Another former member of the group, former Soviet Major-General Pyotr Grigorenko, was too ill to attend, but he was to give evidence by telephone from Washington. Through an interpreter, Mr. Amalrik said Dr. Orlov's physical condition after his arrest had deteriorated rapidly. His decline was noticeable with every visit, and it was soon difficult to recognise him. Amalrik said that, before long, his friend Orlov looked like a stuffed dummy.
Dr. Orlov, who is 53, was arrested 15 months ago. Several other dissidents followed his lead and set up Helsinki Groups. The final part of the Helsinki agreement pledged the signatories to observe basic human rights. If found guilty of the charges against him, Orlov faces up to seven years in jail. Orlov had claimed, among other things, that prisoners in the Soviet Union are tortured as a matter of policy -- through hunger, cold and lack of sleep. He said that sane people were confined in psychiatric hospitals, and forcibly treated with drugs they did not need.