(17.03.1896 – 10.11.1968)
Kosterin Alexey Evgrafovich (17.03.1896, the village of Nizhnyaya Bakhmetevka of the Saratov province – 10.11.1968, Moscow). He was born into a family of metalworker, a self-taught inventor. The older brothers K. were Bolsheviks with pre-revolutionary experience. In 1915 he graduated from the real school in Petrovsk, Saratov province, worked as a journalist. In 1916 he lived in Moscow, studied at the Shanyavsky National University, participated in the trade union movement. In January 1917, arrested on charges of belonging to the Bolshevik party, released from imprisonment after the February Revolution. In 1917-1922 – in the North Caucasus and Transcaucasia. Since January 1918 – a member of the Bolshevik Party, an active participant in the Civil War (Baku, Grozny, Tiflis, Northern Iran, Vladikavkaz). In early 1920 – military commissar of Chechnya, then secretary of the Kabardin regional committee of the RCP (b). In March 1922 he was expelled from the party for drunkenness.
In 1922-1936 he lived in Moscow, engaged in fiction and journalism. He was a member of the literary groups “Young Guards”, “October”, “Forge”, “Pass”, in 1924 he published the first collection of short stories. He was a correspondent for the Moscow newspapers “Na Vakhta”, “Gudok”, “Izvestia”. From 1935 – a member of the Writers’ Union of the USSR.
6.05.1938 was arrested, a special meeting of the NKVD of the USSR as a “socially dangerous element” was sentenced to five years of forced labor camps, served time in Kolyma, then worked there for two years as a civilian worker. In 1945-1953 he lived in the village of Ust-Medveditsa Rostov region, then in Saratov, worked as a tutor in the orphanage, the stage workers. In 1953 he returned to Moscow, worked as a kiosk and book-maker. In March 1955 he was rehabilitated by the Supreme Court of the USSR, in 1956 he was reinstated in the Writers’ Union. Printed in Moscow journals the memories of Artem Merry (The Word should sparkle the New World, 1963. No. 11), Velemir Khlebnikov (Russian Dervishes Moscow, 1966 No. 9). Collection of stories about the Kolyma “By the taiga tracks” (1964) was mutilated by censorship.
Restoration in the party lasted three years (1956-1959). In 1957 he began public and human rights activities, writing a letter to N. Khrushchev criticizing the party’s policy towards the Chechen and Ingush peoples, who were repressed under Stalin. The letter received the widest distribution among the peoples of the Caucasus, returning from exile. For many years, he was engaged in restoring justice to Chechens and Ingushs, repeatedly appealed to higher Party authorities on this matter, was searched for this and interrogated in the KGB.
In the mid-1960s, in Moscow, around K. and his friend, the old Bolshevik S. Pisarev, a circle of dissenting youth (V. Pavlinchuk, G. Altunyan, I. Yakhimovich) was formed, contrasting contemporary Soviet reality with “Leninist precepts.” In 1966 P. Grigorenko joined the circle, calling K. his teacher.
In 1966-1967 K. repeatedly spoke at party meetings of Moscow writers with a sharp criticism of restalinization. I signed the letter of nine old Bolsheviks to the XXIII Congress of the CPSU with a request to return to revolutionary ideals and goals (March 1966). Persistently, but unsuccessfully appealed to the Party Committee of the Moscow branch of the Writers ‘Union and the Board of the Writers’ Union with a proposal to perpetuate the memory of writers who died during the years of the cult of personality, a memorial plaque (January-April 1967).
In May 1967, he wrote and distributed in samizdat an article “On the Small and the Forgotten” (about the peoples repressed under Stalin), with which he began active dissident activities. He became one of the notable figures in the movement for rehabilitation and the return of the Crimean Tatars to their homeland. In July 1967 he wrote an “Open Letter to MA Sholokhov” with a criticism of his retrograde views on literature and politics (after this letter the party committee of the Moscow branch of the Writers’ Union is launching a personal affair against K.). In 1967-1968 he signed and wrote more than 10 human rights documents: he participated in the petition campaign around the “process of the four”, signed the “Letter to the Consultative Meeting of Communist and Workers’ Parties in Budapest” (13.02.1968), asking him and Grigorenko as representatives of the “
USSR and discrimination of small nations (24.02.1968).
At the end of February 1968, K. had an infarction, after which he was no longer destined to recover. But, despite the illness, he is still actively engaged in human rights activities. Together with Grigorenko in March 1968 he wrote an “Open Letter on Restalinization.”
Written (March-May 1968) an open letter “Meditation on a hospital bed” with reflections on the fate of the party.
Less than a month before the entry of troops into Czechoslovakia (28.07.1968), together with Grigorenko, he wrote an open letter to the members of the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia (signed by Pavlinchuk, Pisarev, Jachymovic), in support of the Prague Spring. 07/29/1968 the letter was sent to the Embassy of Czechoslovakia in Moscow.
29.09.1968 wrote in co-authorship with Grigorenko an appeal to all Soviet people and to the progressive public of the world in defense of participants in the “demonstration of the seven”. In October 1968, signed the “Appeal of the Eight” to the Moscow City Court on the trial of the demonstrators.
10/17/1968 the party committee of the Moscow branch of the Writers’ Union examined in absentia the personal case of K. and expelled him from the party. October 24, K. wrote a letter to the Politburo of the CPSU Central Committee with a protest against violations of the Charter of the CPSU, admitted at its expulsion, and announced the withdrawal from the party, attaching his party card. On October 30, he was expelled from the Writers’ Union of the USSR.
A few days later K. died. The ceremony of cremation in the cremation of the Donskoi Monastery turned into a human rights rally, in which Grigorenko, R. Jamilev, L. Petrovsky, P. Yakir, A. Jakobson and others performed with striking speeches. K. ashes are buried in the columbarium of the Donskoy Monastery.
Grigorenko compiled a collection published in the samizdat “In Memory of Alexei Evgrafovich Kosterin” (November 1968).
Kuzovkin GV, Zubarev DI
The materials of the journal UFO