An Appeal to the Heads of State and Government of the Thirty-five Countries that Signed the Helsinki Agreements

As the representative abroad of the Soviet Committee to monitor the fulfillment of the Helsinki Agreements, and as a citizen of the USSR, I regard it as my duty to draw attention to the violation of the Human Rights of the Soviet citizen which is the intention of the Soviet leadership under the recently published new Soviet Constitution. If ratified as expected toward the end of this year, it will be tantamount to a coup d’état.

The new Soviet Constitution under Articles Two and Six openly formulates and institutionalizes the dictatorship of the Communist Party—neither elected by the people nor accountable to any elected Parliament—as the organ of power. For the first time it is openly stated that the Communist Party from now on shall determine “the general long-term development of society, and the foreign and domestic policy lines of the USSR.” Article Forty-four of the published Constitution places outside the law all citizens whose political convictions diverge from the general lines of the Communist Party. These citizens are thereby excluded from the principle that all citizens are equal before the law. Moreover, although the same Article provides for equality before the law for all citizens regardless of their attitude to religion, the freedom to practice that religion is not written into the Constitution and therefore could be held to place such citizens also outside the law.

Under Article Twelve any citizens who, acting in accordance with their political or religious convictions, are held to have used their property or personal possessions to harm the interests of society (as defined by the Communist Party) will have their property and possessions seized by the State. For the first time under Article Sixty-six the compulsory education of children in Communist doctrine is established with a penalty that can include the removal of children from their parents in the event of noncompliance. At the same time Article Twenty-five establishes a single system of education throughout the country, for the declared purpose not of improving education but for the “inculcation of Communism.” Article Thirty-nine automatically deprives all dissenting citizens of their Human Rights and Liberties, in so far as the use of such rights is judged to be detrimental to the interests of Communist society. The threat to the rights of Soviet citizens contained in Article Fifty-nine is particularly menacing for, under this, anyone who in the view of the Communist Party fails to “bear with dignity the high calling of citizen of the USSR” is to be deprived of his constitutional liberties.

Under Articles Forty-six and Forty-seven scientific, technical, and artistic work is only permitted if it is judged to be in accordance with the aims of Communism and—in defiance of international treaties and agreements—all sources of education, information, and culture are held to be illegal, except those received within the framework of formal inter-State exchanges sanctioned by the Communist Party. Article Fifty-one forbids all social organizations whose aims are at variance with the construction of Communism, and …

This article is available to Online Edition and Print Premium subscribers only.
Please choose from one of the options below to access this article:
If you already have one of these subscriptions, please be sure you are logged in to your nybooks.com account. If you subscribe to the print edition, you may also need to link your web site account to your print subscription. Click here to link your account services.