Pavel Litvinov

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Pavel Litvinov during his exile to Siberia

Pavel Litvinov (Russian: Павел Михайлович Литвинов, born 1940) is a Russian physicist, writer, human rights activist and former Soviet-era dissident. He is the grandson of Maxim Litvinov, Joseph Stalin's foreign minister during the 1930s, and as such was born and raised amongst the Soviet elite. As a schoolboy, he was devoted to the cult of Stalin, and was tapped, unsuccessfully, by the KGB to report on his parents Flora and Misha Litvinov (a story that is related by the journalist David Remnick in his book Lenin's Tomb).

After Stalin's death in 1953 and the return of family friends from the labour camps, Pavel grew disillusioned with the Soviet system. He had a short-lived marriage when he was 17. While in his 20s, he became a physics teacher at the Institute for Chemical Technology and fell in with a group of intellectuals who were following the show-trials of the dissidents Andrei Sinyavsky and Yuli Daniel. His immersion in samizdat literature at this time brought him into contact with the works of Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, Varlam Shalamov and Robert Conquest.

The historical banner of the Red Square demonstrators, For your freedom and ours.

He participated in the 1968 Red Square demonstration against the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia (see Prague Spring), that had taken place four days earlier. Among the others were Larisa Bogoraz, a philologist, Natalya Gorbanevskaya, a poet, Vadim Delaunay, poet, and Viktor Fainberg, an art critic. They raised banners in Czech and Russian, expressing support of the Czechoslovak independence and solidarity with Alexander Dubček, the Czechoslovak leader who was the architect of the Prague Spring.

The KGB promptly arrested the protesters, and their trial was held that October. Litvinov was sentenced to five years' exile in Chita, Zabaykalsky Krai, Siberia.

In 1974, after his return from exile, he and his wife Maya left the Soviet Union to Vienna by train and from there to Rome until they moved to United States. Litvinov currently lives in the United States, where he taught physics and mathematics at the Hackley School in Tarrytown, New York from 1976 until his retirement in 2006.[1]

In 2005 Pavel Litvinov participated in "They Chose Freedom", a four-part television documentary on the history of the Soviet dissident movement.

Pavel Litvinov is a son-in-law of the dissident and literary scholar Lev Kopelev.

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