The Death of Anatoly Marchenko (8 December 1986)

«USSR News Brief, 15 December 1986» (Issue 22/23-1)

On 8 December 1986 Anatoly MARCHENKO (b. 1938), a political prisoner for many years, died in the maximum-security Chistopol Prison (Tatarstan). For several months prior to his death, he had been on hunger strike, started on 8 August 1986 (1986: 17-7, 15 September). Official reports of his death are contradictory: some talk of a cerebral haemorrhage, others of a heart attack.

A few days before his death, his wife Larisa Bogoraz received a postcard from Marchenko, requesting that she send him a food parcel. He had ended his hunger strike, in other words. A number of expressions in his postcard could be interpreted to mean that Marchenko was in the prison infirmary and was about to be transferred somewhere else, i.e. that the remainder of his ten-year sentence had been revoked. It’s difficult now to establish whether this interpretation is correct.

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The release of a large group of political prisoners (February 1987)

<<USSR News Brief, 15 February 1987>>

During the first week in February 1987 a large group of political prisoners were released from the political camps, Chistopol Prison (Tatarstan) and internal exile.

[Note – Throughout 1987 there were often erroneous reports about the release of individuals who were still in the camps or in exile. In this and following reports during the year the names and surnames of those not yet released are underlined in the text and in the lists, ed.]

The prisoners or exiles were released on the basis of two edicts issued [in February 1987] by the Presidium of the USSR Supreme Soviet: Edict No 6463-xi concerned the pardoning of a listed  group of individuals; and Edict No 6462-xi concerned the release of another group “from continuing to serve their sentence”.

At a press conference on 11 February 1987, USSR Foreign Ministry spokesman Gennady Gerasimov state that yet another decree concerning the release of the prisoners had been passed by the Presidium on 9 February 1987, but it has still not been published. Furthermore, no one has been freed since 9 February whose release could be linked to that decree.

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