Days and Lives :: Arrest

Prisoner: Thomas Sgovio

Following his arrest Thomas Sgovio was initially taken to Lubyanka prison in Moscow. He was then transported to Taganka via a Black Raven. “I tried to examine the inside as we passed through the small guards’ compartment. There was enough light to notice that it was armored, thus establishing without a shadow of a doubt the fact that the Black Raven was deliberately designed and constructed for the transportation of prisoners. The paint job on the outside even had the name of the Peoples’ Commissariat of Food Industries lettered! During the French Revolution the condemned were carted to the guillotine in carts through the streets and the whole world knew about it. The same can be said of those who were burned at the stake by the Inquisition. Jesus Christ was led to the cross in the open and the whole world knew about it. Here in the Workers’ Fatherland they innovated the Black Raven…”


In the following excerpt from Stolen Years, several prisoners recall the farcical justice of a Soviet trial.

Movie Transcription

Paulina Myasnikova – This is how the trial went. They asked us our name, last name, patronymic, date of birth and whether or not we admitted our guilt. And then they left the room. Five minutes later they reappeared back in the room with the sentence all typed up, and you would get a 10-year prison sentence. Nikolai Getman – The trial lasted no more than 5 or 7 minutes. There was no need to prove any of the evidence. Everything had been determined in advance. Simeon Vilensky – My sentence was announced to me at the Butyrki prison. It was in a little cigarette paper-size document—tiny piece of paper. I was supposed to sign it, and confirm that I had heard the sentence, and received the document. I refused to sign it, but that didn’t make any difference. That’s all there was to the trial.