Letter of Forty-Two

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The Letter of Forty-Two (Russian: Письмо́ сорока́ двух) was an open letter signed by forty-two well-known Russian literati, aimed at Russian society, the president and government, in reaction to the events of September – October 1993. It was published in the newspaper Izvestiya on 5 October 1993 under the title "Writers demand decisive actions of the government."[1]

The letter contains the following seven demands:[1]


Communist Pravda reacted by publishing a letter of three renowned Soviet dissidents – Andrey Sinyavsky, Vladimir Maksimov and Pyotr Abovin-Yegides – calling for Boris Yeltsin's immediate resignation.[2] It said among other things:

...Let us not forget that this tragedy had been triggered by the President's decree. The question arises: was the head of the State so short-sighted as to fail to foresee this decree's consequenses when he chose to defy the very same law that had enabled him to become President? How much of short-sightedness is there in it, and how much calculation? And this calculation – shouldn't it be called provocation in real terms?[3]

Nezavisimaya Gazeta's 2nd editor-in-chief Victoria Shokhina, mentioning Vasily Aksyonov's statement ("It was right those bastards had been bombarded. Should I've been in Moscow, I'd have signed <the letter> too"),[4] on 3 October 2004, wondered how "all of those 'democratic' writers who were preaching humanism and denouncing capital punishment" all of a sudden "came to applaud mass execution without trial". According to Shokhina, writer Anatoly Rybakov, when asked, 'would have he', harshly replied: "By no means. A writer can not endorse bloodshed". "But people like Rybakov are few and far between in our 'democratic' camp, and such people there are being disliked", Shokhina remarked.[4]


  1. Ales Adamovich
  2. Anatoly Ananyev
  3. Viktor Astafiyev
  4. Аrtyom Anfinogenov
  5. Bella Akhmadulina
  6. Grigory Baklanov
  7. Zori Balayan
  8. Tatyana Bek
  9. Alexander Borshchagovsky
  10. Vasil Bykaŭ
  11. Boris Vasilyev
  12. Alexander Gelman
  13. Daniil Granin
  14. Yuri Davydov[5]
  15. Daniil Danin
  16. Andrei Dementyev
  17. Mikhail Dudin
  18. Аlexander Ivanov
  19. Edmund Iodkovsky
  20. Rimma Kazakova
  21. Sergey Kaledin
  22. Yury Karyakin
  23. Yakov Kostyukovsky
  24. Tatyana Kuzovlyova
  25. Alexander Kushner
  26. Yuri Levitansky
  27. Dmitry Likhachov
  28. Yuri Nagibin
  29. Andrey Nuykin
  30. Bulat Okudzhava
  31. Valentin Oskotsky
  32. Grigory Pozhenyan
  33. Anatoly Pristavkin
  34. Lev Razgon
  35. Alexander Rekemchuk
  36. Robert Rozhdestvensky
  37. Vladimir Savelyev
  38. Vasily Selyunin
  39. Yuri Chernichenko
  40. Andrey Chernov
  41. Marietta Chudakova
  42. Mikhail Chulaki