Days and Lives :: Arrest

Prisoner: Lev Razgon

“In Moscow, you could see many symptoms. Beginning with the fact that you could walk into an apartment building, go up the stairs and notice the sealed doorways. And you knew that the black plague had passed by there. That someone had been arrested there. In Moscow there were a number of large buildings where the government elite lived. Take, for example, the famous house on the embankment. Walking by at night, I could see how there were fewer and fewer lights on at night and watch how the lights would go out, sometimes entire floors at a time.”


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.