November 7, 1987 marked the seventieth anniversary of the Bolshevik Revolution. Authorities in the Soviet Union had announced in June that they would grant amnesty to or improve the situation of political and religious prisoners Although the Soviet devotees of Krsna who were being held in psychiatric hospitals were released, none of the devotees in labour camps was given unconditional amnesty. Either they completed their sentence or they were conditionally released from labour camps to compulsory labour in remote Soviet territories. They were affected by the "amnesty" only because of the worldwide campaign to broadcast their plight. It appears that the Soviets used the anniversary of the Russian Revolution to release or improve the condition of prisoners who have caused them embarrassment from people supporting their causes from abroad. In the November 1987 issue of Back to Godhead, we published an article entitled "23 Who Are not Free," which told of the devotees of Krsna imprisoned in the Soviet Union. The following is an update on the status of those twenty-three devotees.
Vladimir Kritsky (Visvamitra dasa) was released on December 26, 1987. We had received incorrect information about his sentence. It was five and a half years (instead of eight), and he served every day of it.
Nagzar Chargaziya was conditionally released from a labour camp to compulsory labor.
Gagik Buniatyan (Sarvabhavana dasa) completed his sentence in January.
Alexander Levin is now free.
Ashot Shaglamdzyan (Vrakresvara Pandita) was conditionally released from a labour camp to compulsory labour. He was sent to the Soviet Far East?the Khabarovsk Territory seven thousand kilometres away from his family and friends.
Aleksei Musatov (Asutosa dasa) was released from the Special Psychiatric Hospital in Smolensk.
Agvan Arutyunyan (Advaita Acarya dasa) was conditionally released from a labour camp to compulsory labour. He was sent far away from his native Armenia to the Primorskaya Territory, near Vladivostok.
Oleg Stepanyan served his full two-and-a-half-year sentence. He is now free.
Yuri Fedchenko (Japa dasa) was conditionally released from a labour camp to compulsory labour to complete his sentence. He is now free.
Armen Saakyan (Atmananda dasa) was released from a psychiatric hospital.
Yevgeny Lyubinsky (Amala-bhakta dasa) is still in a labour camp serving a four-year sentence.
Sarkis Ogadzhanyan (Sacisuta dasa) died in a labour camp in December. (See last month's issue of Back to Godhead)
Anatoli Samoilov was released from a labour camp to compulsory labour. In July 1997 his wife, Valentina, completed a two-year sentence in a labour camp for her involvement in the Krsna consciousness movement.
Karen Saakyan (Kamalamala dasa) was released from an Armenian psychiatric hospital in December 1987.
Otari Nacchebiya (Ambarisa dasa) was conditionally released from a labour camp to compulsory labour. He is serving a three-year sentence. He was sent to the Khabarovsk Territory, far away from his native Georgia.
Sergei Priborov (Sanatana-kumara dasa) was released from a labour camp in March 1988 after completing a four?year sentence.
Rafael Dzhanashvili was released from a psychiatric hospital in February 1988.
Suren Karapetyan (Sannyasa dasa) was released from a psychiatric hospital in Armenia in January 1988.
Jakov Dzidzhevadze (Yamaraja dasa) completed his two-and-a-half-year sentence in a labour camp and was released in January 1988.
Oleg Mkrtchyan does not exist. We received this name in error.
Vladimir Kustrya (Vrndavana dasa) is serving a five-year sentence in a strict regime labour camp. He previously served a one?year sentence from November 1982 to November 1983. His health is very bad, and he spends much time in isolation punishment cells.
Anatoli Pinyayev (Ananta-santi dasa) was released in December from the Oryol Special Psychiatric Hospital.
Olga Kiseleva (Premavati-devi dasi) was released from compulsory labour.