Alexandr Podrabinek (Russian: Александр Пинхосович Подрабинек; born August 5, 1953) is a Russian journalist, human rights activist and editor-in-chief of Prima information agency. He is a founding signatory of the Prague Declaration on European Conscience and Communism.
Dissident activities in the Soviet Union
After graduating from a medical technical school, Podrabinek worked as a nurse in a medical emergency team. He was engaged in the human right movement in the Soviet Union since the beginning of the 1970s. He wrote a book about the psychiatric repressions in the country in 1977. The book appeared in English translation in the USA under the title "Punitive medicine". He was also editor of the first Soviet underground samizdat journal Chronicle of Current Events and a member of Moscow Helsinki Group. He appears in the documentary They Chose Freedom.
Arrest and conviction
He was arrested and convicted in 1978 and sentenced to five years of involuntary settlement in Siberia for criticizing the Soviet system. He was convicted a second time and sentenced to three and a half years of labor camp in 1980 for distributing samizdat (underground) literature and publication of the English version of his book. After serving the time, he was allowed to work in a medical emergency team again.
Podrabinek started working freely as a journalist only from the beginning of Perestroika and Glasnost. From 1987 to 2000 he was editor-in-chief of the weekly human right magazine Chronika. Since 2000, he became editor-in-chief of the Prima information agency, which specializes in human right questions.
In 2004, he was involved in publishing and distribution of book Blowing up Russia: Terror from within written by Alexander Litvinenko and Yuri Felshtinsky. Unsuccessful in finding a publisher for the book, authors printed an early draft in Russian for would-be publication in Moscow in 2004. On December 29, 2003, Russian Interior Ministry and FSB units seized 4,376 copies of the book printed in Latvia and purchased by Alexander Podrabinek's Prima information agency, which had passed customs control and were being trucked from Latvia to Moscow for retail delivery . Later it was made clear that the action had been sanctioned during the investigation of divulging state secrets initiated in June 2003.  Podrabinek was summoned by the FSB to come for interrogation on January 28, 2004, but refused to answer the questions.
Recent publications and hiding
After publishing an editorial on www.ej.ru in September 2009 about a Moscow restaurant changing its name from "Anti-Soviet" under pressure from local officials who said it was offensive to "Soviet veterans." The article accused the current Russian authorities of trying to burnish the image of the Soviet Union. In the article Podrabinek wrote that the Soviet past was "bloody, false and shameful" and that "The Soviet Union was not that country you portrayed in school textbooks and your lying media". This article was criticized by Nashi, a nationalist youth movement that began under former Russian President Vladimir Putin. Soon after the article was published Podrabinek went into hiding because he said he had received threats and he feared for his life. Nashi denies threatening Podrabinek, but demands an apology and started to picket Podrabinek's Moscow's home, accusing him of "defiling the honor of veterans of the Great Patriotic War (World War II)". Nashi has been accused by critics of engaging in harassment and intimidation.
At a State Duma session of October 7, 2009 a deputy from United Russia (Robert Shlegel), proposed that the president dismiss head Ella Pamfilova Russian human rights council for advocating Podrabinek’s rights. The watchdog, led by Ella Pamfilova, had called the protests “a persecution campaign … organized by irresponsible adventurists from Nashi” and said the activists were showing open signs of extremism.
In March 2010 he signed the online anti-Putin manifesto of the Russian opposition "Putin must go".
His books and fiction
- Alexander Podrabinek. Punitive Medicine, Karoma Publishers: 1980, ISBN 0-89720-022-5
- Александр Подрабинек. Диссиденты [Dissidents], Moscow: АСТ, 2014, ISBN 978-5-17-082401-4
- Александр Подрабинек (2014). Клеточников [Kletochnikov]. Zvezda (in Russian) (2). Retrieved 21 March 2014.
- We would like to have rights, Alexander Podrabinek, Novaya Gazeta, August 2, 2007, computer translation
- "Prague Declaration - Declaration Text". 3 June 2008. Archived from the original on 12 January 2010. Retrieved 28 January 2010.
- Гостайну не выдал by Orhan Cemal, Novaya Gazeta, January 29, 2004.
- FSB summons activist editor for questioning, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, January 28, 2004.
- Kremlin threatens human rights activist by Lawrence Uzzell, Chechnya Weekly, Jamestown Foundation, February 4, 2004.
- Правозащитника Александра Подрабинека вызвали на допрос в ФСБ, Lenta.ru,, January 27, 2004.
- ФСБ: В книге "ФСБ взрывает Россию" разглашена гостайна, Grani.ru, January 28, 2004.
- ФСБ и милиция арестовали тираж книги "ФСБ взрывает Россию", Lenta.ru, December 29, 2003.
- ФСБ задержала тираж книги "ФСБ взрывает Россию", Grani.ru, December 29, 2003.
- Russian journalist in hiding after Soviet critique, Reuters (September 29, 2009)
- Pamfilova Won't Apologize to Nashi, The St. Petersburg Times (October 9, 2009)
- Kremlin Advisers Warn Nashi Youth, Moscow Times (October 6, 2009)
- A Profession Under Stress by John Langone, Time magazine, June 24, 2001
- Punitive Medicine (Russian), from Russian samizdat