Arrest and Northern Exile

Order for arrest and search of Pravdych-Neminsky flat (from Nepokoichytsky case, Central State Archive of NGO of Ukraine)

On November 5th 1929 people from OGPU knocked to Pravdych-Neminsky door of apartment 2, Ovrutska 6. Commissioner Trott produced an order for search and arrest of Pravdych-Neminsky. 7 volumes of personal diaries was found and taken to Kyiv OGPU headquarters at Rosy Luxemburg street 16 (now Lypska) with arrested professor. Almost for 2 months he was jailed and regularly interrogated.  Interrogator with philosophic name Spinoza tried to find any facts or innuendos directing to Pravdych-Neminsky’s counterrevolutionary deeds. OGPU agents witnessed he was unhappy with some official Soviet decisions and actions.

The case was merged with accusation of former imperial army colonel Stanislav Nepokoichytsky who worked as a technician in Kyiv Polytechnics and was Pravdych-Neminsky neighbour in KPI campus.  In final act Spinoza proclaimed he uncovered counterrevolutionary group which consisted of agronomist prof. Volodymyr Kolkunov, dean of Agricultural Department of KPI prof. Vasyl Ustiantsev, prof. Pravdych-Neminsky and Nepokoichytsky. As there were no concrete evidence about existence of such group Spinoza added one more “possible plot” inspired by Pravdych-Neminsky in Ukrainian Academy of Science chief academicians including famous evolutionary biologist Ivan Schmalhausen.

But probably the most important accusation was linking Neminsky to psychiatry doctor Mykola Zinovyev-Ikonnikov. This young, 29-year old man was sentenced for 10 years of concentration camp imprisonment for “religious anti-Soviet propaganda” just several months earlier (see this lost neuroscience researcher story). Interrogator found his name and Pravdych-Neminsky’s diary as Ikonnikov was his former student and acquintance of professor’s late daughter. Despite Pravdych-Neminsky’s continuous statements about quarrels and discordance between him and Ikonnikov Spinoza was happy – he “established a strong link” between suspect and known criminal.

In the final act Spinoza asked for 5 years of concentration camp imprisonment for Pravdych-Neminsky. But the whole evidence of the case was so weak that even Soviet prosecutor changed this decision to 3 years of exile in Northern Region of USSR. Pravdych-Neminsky was sent to Arkhangelsk. (Nepokoichytsky got 3 years imprisonment in the Murmansk camp – much worse. We don’t know whether he survived) . Severe northern climate was catastrophic for Pravdich-Neminsky’s health: he got lung tuberculosis and heart problems. In the middle of 1931 he asked for changing for better climate of Middle Asia republics of USSR. The application was approved but it seems he never went there. For his exile he worked as a doctor and next his occupation after release was agricultural college in Vologda in 1932.

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Creative Commons LicenseThis page is created as a part of European History of Neuroscience Online Projects and funded by FENS History Online Project 2016 grant. Author: Oleksii Boldyriev. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.