Wednesday, November 09, 2016


Mikhail Dmitrievich Ryumin
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Sleeplessness (yes, combined with standing, thirst, bright light, terror, and the unknown -- what other tortures are needed!?) befogs the reason, undermines the will, and the human being ceases to be himself, to be his own "I". ... A person deprived of sleep acts half-consciously or altogether unconsciously, so that his testimony cannot be held against him.

They used to say: "You are not truthful in your testimony, and therefore you will not be allowed to sleep!"


23. The bedbug-infested box has already been mentioned. In the dark closet made of wooden planks, there were hundreds, maybe even thousands, of bedbugs, which had been allowed to multiply. The guards removed the prisoner's jacket or field shirt, and immediately the hungry bedbugs assaulted him, crawling onto him from the walls or falling off the ceiling. At first he waged war with them strenuously, crushing them on his body and on the walls, suffocated by their stink. But after several hours he weakened and let them drink his blood without a murmur.


Yes, yes, Minister of State Security Abakumov himself did not by any means spurn such menial labour. (A Suvurov at the head of his troops!) He was not averse to taking a rubber truncheon in his hands every once in a while. And his deputy Ryumin was even more willing. He did this at Sukhanovka in the "Generals'" interrogation office. The office had imitation-walnut paneling on the walls, silk portieres at the windows and doors, and a great Persian carpet on the floor. In order not to spoil all this beauty, a dirty runner bespattered with blood was rolled out on top of the carpet when a prisoner was being beaten. When Ryumin was doing the beating, he was assisted not by some ordinary guard but by a colonel. "And so," said Ryumin politely, stroking his rubber truncheon, which was four centimeters -- an inch and a half -- thick, "you have survived trial by sleeplessness with honour." (Alexander D. had cleverly managed to last a month "without sleep" by sleeping while he was standing up.)  "So now we will try the club. Prisoners can't take more than two or three sessions of this. Let down your trousers and lie on the runner." The colonel sat down on the prisoner's back. A.D. was going to count the blows. He didn't yet know about a blow from a rubber truncheon on the sciatic nerve when the buttocks have disappeared as a consequence of prolonged starvation. The effect is not felt in the place where the blow is delivered -- it explodes inside the head. After the first blow the victim was mad with pain and broke his nails on the carpet. Ryumin beat away, trying to hit accurately. The colonel pressed down on A.D.'s torso -- this was just the right sort of work for three big shoulder-board stars, assisting the all-powerful Ryumin! ...

Alexander Solzhenitsyn, "The Interrogation" from The Gulag Archipelago (1973), translation by Thomas P. Whitney, 1974.  

Mikhail Dmitrievich Ryumin

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