Silva Kaputikyan’s Letter to the Minister of Culture and KGB of the USSR in Defense of Parajanov

Silva Kaputikyan's Letter

Sergei Parajanov was arrested in Kiev. The poetess Silva Kaputikyan (the only one from Armenia) sent a letter in defense of Parajanov to the Minister of Culture of the USSR and the chairman of the KGB Yuri Andropov. Naturally, she received a dry rejection in response to her letter.

Once eventually released from prison and having returned to Armenia, Parajanov directly went to Silva Kaputikyan from the airport.

After a warm long conversation, Parajanov presented her with a gift in gratitude – an elegant Armenian-style tapestry woven by him. This tapestry is now stored in the house-museum of Silva Kaputikyan and is one of its most significant exhibits.

Kaputikyan’s affiliation with the Soviet Communist party may seem strange to a person not familiar with the Soviet system. However, this, as Kaputikyan herself noted in her memoirs, was a kind of entrance ticket which gave her the right to note any shortcoming or protect a person who was undesirable for the Soviet government.

Below is an excerpt from Kaputikyan’s book “Pages from a closed box” (“Էջեր փակ գզրոցներից”):

“Several Armenian filmmakers who understood well who Parajanov was accused the Armenian leadership and intelligentsia of not protecting their imprisoned compatriot as they should have.

The late talented director Bagrat Hovhannisyan especially lamented and accused them. And every time we met, he addressed this question. I considered it my duty to send the following letter to Moscow.

To the Minister of Culture of the USSR Comrade Demichev & Chairman of the KGB of the USSR Yu. V. Andropov

Copy to the Supreme Court of the USSR

A writer, a member of the Communist Party since 1945, USSR State Prize Laureate Silva Kaputikyan is contacting you.

Filmmaker Sergei Parajanov who was born in Tbilisi and has been living in Kiev since 1973 was sentenced by the Kiev court for immoral behavior to 5 years in prison in a maximum-security penal colony.

Sergey Parajanov is a great movie master. His two films ‘Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors’ and ‘Color of Pomegranate’ glorified his name not only here but also abroad. And now, he is considered one of the most talented directors of our days.

One can agree or disagree with Parajanov’s artistic inventions, but one cannot but accept that what he does is fresh, original, and talented and reveals the unknown possibilities of cinema.

I am not going to deny the guilt of Sergei Parajanov. His overly excited nature and weak character led him to a pathology in an intimate relationship, which is more likely a disease or unhappiness which needs treatment and assistance.

The result of this nature is also his behavior in society – restraint, arrogance, which, constantly causing unwillingness and even hostility towards him, harmed him more than others.

I don’t know the details of Parajanov’s behavior, but I’m convinced that even if he allowed himself actions similar to a political crime, it’s a result of not his convictions and the stage but his unbalanced nature which easily falls under the influence of both strangers and his own extravagance and the irresistible desire for originality.

I, as well as many of those who would have signed this letter had I addressed them, ask you to show indulgence towards Sergey Parajanov, reduce the term of his imprisonment, and give him the opportunity to return to his art.

For a man like him, five-year prison life will mean physical and spiritual death, and even if released in 5 years, he will be a lost person for art.

Talent is also a national treasure, and it belongs not only to contemporaries but also future generations. Therefore, we are all responsible for talent for both the present and the future. Sergey Parajanov is one of the most talented art historians of our time.

In his head and heart, there are many more plans that should be revealed to the world. And if we allow this ardent soul full of strength, fire, and talent given by God to go out in prison cellars, neither the people nor the future will forgive us.

28 / V-74, Yerevan

Despite the fact that I addressed the Soviet ministries in Moscow, the answer came from the Ukrainian prosecutor’s office. A dry, soulless, negative answer. In vain my letter talked about the fate of a man of humanity and gave an assessment of talent. For a bureaucratic concrete wall, they were just pebbles hitting the wall and bouncing back.”

David Gyulzadyan

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