The following is the text of a statement telephoned to the Moscow Bureau of The New York Times on November 2 by Valery Panov, a former principal dancer of the Kirov Ballet in Leningrad:
To the conscience and heart of mankind:
Today, when the Soviet Union speaks so eloquently, so frequently, of legality and love of man, I want to talk about my own case.
My wife and I are ballet dancers who have more than once been given high awards by the government. Ballet is our life, outside which we cannot imagine ourselves. About two years ago, we applied for exit visas for Israel. It is hard to relate what terrible moments then befell us and the various humiliations which we have had to undergo—slander, prison, interrogation, blackmail, which have led to the death of my mother and much more.
Our constitutional rights have been violated in the crudest fashion. We are periodically forbidden to move about inside the country. We are followed. We are not allowed to meet our friends because this brings misfortune on them. At the present time, we have no right to leave the city. For nearly two years now, we have not worked. For us as ballet dancers every day without work brings us nearer to professional death. This is the precise aim of the organizers of our punishment.
But I do not want to talk about my wife’s talent dissolving in tears. From day to day our strength is draining away. Our confidence is dying and, with it, we too are dying. I have understood perfectly that they will never let us leave the country, and our professional death will be followed by our physical death. Countless times we have appealed to various branches of the state and government, including Brezhnev himself, but have never received an answer. Unanswered too have been the appeals made in our support by leading political figures, prominent artists, and public opinion in the West.
I do not belong to any political organization. I speak for myself. My civic conscience does not permit me to remain silent, and as a sign of protest against the daily sadism against us artists, we are declaring a hunger strike.
I see no end to my hunger strike, but this is the sole means remaining to me of protesting and appealing to the world. I will continue, I hope, until not one honest person remains indifferent to my fate, my wife’s fate, and that of others.
November 29, 1973