Days and Lives :: Arrest

Prisoner: Michael Solomon

Michael Solomon was arrested while walking down the street in Bucharest by six men in black leather coats and caps. They placed him in a car and took him to the Ministry of Internal Affairs. “What if they hold me for good? What if this sort of thing was really happening now in Bucharest? No! They couldn’t possibly keep an innocent man in jail just because they hated his opinions, could they? They must bring me before some kind of tribunal, class tribunal, party tribunal, martial court – anything.”


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.