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An Artist in Prison

To the Editors:

Gantobari (Boris) Mukhametshin is a Soviet artist currently serving a five-year sentence with strict regime at Permskaya Oblast (in the Urals) for creating art that has not conformed to the artistic norms of the USSR. Information has recently been received from reliable sources that he may be subjected to special punishments and harsh treatment as a result of recent publicity of his case in the United States.

Boris Mukhametshin participated in the widely publicized “unofficial” art exhibit held on September 15, 1974 in Moscow. The exhibition was violently suppressed by officials using bulldozers and firehoses. Soviet President Podgorny condemned sharply the deviance of these artists from “artistic norms.” Boris Mukhametshin had previously gained official displeasure of the Soviet authorities by his efforts to emigrate to America and marry an American girl, his fiancée, Charlotte Daigle, who lives in Palo Alto, California. He applied for an exit visa in the spring of 1974. Thereafter he was subjected to numerous hardships including the loss of his job as a graphic artist. After the brutal incident of September 15, 1974, Boris Mukhametshin “allegedly cooperated with an American student to take some of his paintings out of the USSR.” He was charged under Article 70 of the RSFSR (Russian) Criminal Code with Anti-Soviet Agitation and Propaganda. Part of the accusation included such acts as selling some of his pictures for dollars and changing the money into rubles and for the possession of Solzhenitsyn’s Gulag Archipelago, which he discussed with his friends. He was sentenced in August of 1975 to five years imprisonment and two years exile. On July 4, 1976, in protest of his unjust confinement, Boris went on a hunger strike. He was subsequently put in solitary confinement for several days.

To forestall further retaliatory measures the government of the USSR has threatened it will impose on Boris Mukhametshin, I appeal to all interested persons to write letters in his behalf to Mr. N. Podgorny, Chairman of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR, The Kremlin, Moscow, USSR, and to Ambassador Anatoly F. Dobrynin, Embassy of the USSR, 1125 10th Street, NW, Washington, DC 20036.

Mark S. Wittenberg

Group 57, Amnesty International

Mill Valley, California

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