Soviet dissidents

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Soviet dissidents were persons who disagreed with certain features in the embodiment of Soviet ideology and who were willing to speak out against them.[1] The dissidents were small groups of marginalized intellectuals whose modest challenges to the Soviet regime met protection and encouragement from correspondents.[2] Soviet dissidents who criticized the state faced possible legal sanctions under Articles 70, 72, 142, 190.1, and 227 of the Soviet Criminal Code[3] and faced the choice of exile, the mental hospital, or the labor camp.[4] Prison after prison, decade after decade, the dissident movement created vivid awareness of Soviet Communist tyranny.[5] US President Ronald Reagan attributed to the view that the "brutal treatment of Soviet dissidents was due to bureaucratic inertia."[6]

Soviet dissidents in the upper row are Naum Meiman, Sofiya Kallistratova, Petro Grigorenko, his wife Zinaida Grigorenko, Tatyana Velikanova's mother, the Priest Father Sergei Zheludkov and Andrei Sakharov; in the lower row are Genrikh Altunyan and Alexander Podrabinek. Photo taken on 16 October 1977[7]
Yelena Bonner and Andrei Sakharov after their arrival for the conferment of the honorary doctorate in law from the University of Groningen, 15 June 1989

The 1950s–1960s[edit]

In the 1950s, Soviet dissidents started leaking criticism to the West by sending documents and statements to foreign diplomatic missions in Moscow.[8] In the 1960s, Soviet dissidents frequently declared that the rights the government of the Soviet Union denied them were universal rights, possessed by everyone regardless of race, religion and nationality.[9] In August 1969, for instance, the Initiating Group for Defense of Civil Rights in the USSR appealed to the United Nations Committee on Human Rights to defend the human rights being trampled on by Soviet authorities in a number of trials.[10]

The 1970s[edit]

The heyday of the dissenters as a presence in the Western public life was the 1970s.[11] The Helsinki Accords inspired dissidents in the Soviet Union, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, and Poland to openly protest human rights failures by their own governments.[12] The Soviet dissidents demanded that the Soviet authorities implement their own commitments proceeding from the Helsinki Agreement with the same zeal and in the same way as formerly the outspoken legalists expected the Soviet authorities to adhere strictly to the letter of their constitution.[13] Dissident Russian and East European intellectuals who urged compliance with the Helsinki accords have been subjected to official repression.[14] 50 members of Soviet Helsinki Groups were imprisoned.[15] Сases of political prisoners and prisoners of conscience in the Soviet Union were divulged by Amnesty International in 1975[16] and by The Committee for the Defense of Soviet Political Prisoners in 1975[17] and 1976.[18][19]

US President Jimmy Carter in his inaugural address on 20 January 1977 announced that human rights would be central to foreign policy during his administration.[20] In February, Carter sent Andrei Dmitrievich Sakharov a letter expressing his support for the latter’s stance on human rights.[20][21] Because of Carter's open show of support for Soviet dissidents, the KGB was able to link dissent with American imperialism through suggesting that such protest is a cover for American espionage in the Soviet Union.[22] The KGB head Yuri Andropov determined, "The need has thus emerged to terminate the actions of Orlov, fellow Helsinki monitor Ginzburg and others once and for all, on the basis of existing law."[23] According to Dmitri Volkogonov and Harold Shukman, it was Andropov who approved the numerous trials of human rights activists such as Andrei Amalrik, Vladimir Bukovsky, Vyacheslav Chornovil, Zviad Gamsakhurdia, Alexander Ginzburg, Natalya Gorbanevskaya, Pyotr Grigorenko, Anatoly Shcharansky, and others.[24]

In literary world, there were dozens of the literati who participated in dissident movement including Vasily Aksyonov, Arkadiy Belinkov, Leonid Borodin, Joseph Brodsky, Georgi Vladimov, Vladimir Voinovich, Aleksandr Galich, Venedikt Yerofeyev, Alexander Zinoviev, Lev Kopelev, Naum Korzhavin, Vladimir Maximov, Viktor Nekrasov, Andrei Sinyavsky, Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, Varlam Shalamov.[25] Voluntary and involuntary emigration allowed the authorities to rid themselves of many political active intellectuals including writers Valentin Turchin, Georgi Vladimov, Vladimir Voinovich, Lev Kopelev, Vladimir Maximov, Naum Korzhavin, Vasily Aksyonov and others.[26]:194 A Chronicle of Current Events covered 424 political trials, in which 753 people were convicted, and no one of the accused was acquitted; in addition, 164 people were declared insane and sent to compulsory treatment in a psychiatric hospital.[27]

According to Soviet dissidents and Western critics, the KGB had routinely sent dissenters to psychiatrists for diagnosing to avoid embarrassing publiс trials and to discredit dissidence as the product of ill minds.[28][29] On the grounds that political dissenters in the Soviet Union were psychotic and deluded, they were locked away in psychiatric hospitals and treated with neuroleptics.[30] That technique could be called the "medicalization" of dissidence or psychiatric terror, the now familiar form of repression applied in the Soviet Union to Leonid Plyushch, Pyotr Grigorenko, and many others.[31] Finally, many persons at that time tended to believe that dissidents were abnormal people whose commitment to mental hospitals was quite justified.[26]:96[32]

Political repression of the Moscow Helsinki Group[edit]

Yuri Orlov was sentenced on 18 May 1978, to seven years in strict regimen camp and five years of internal exile for "anti-Soviet agitation and propaganda"; Vladimir Slepak was sentenced on 21 June 1978 to five years of internal exile for "malicious hooliganism" (Article 206, RSFSR Code); Anatoly Shcharansky was sentenced on 14 July 1978, to three years in prison and 10 years in strict regimen camp for "anti-Soviet agitation and propaganda" and "treason" (Article 64-a, RSFSR Code) (sentenced in October, 1981 to return to prison for three years); Malva Landa was sentenced on 26 March 1980, to five years of internal exile for "anti-Soviet slander"; Viktor Nekipelov was sentenced on 13 June 1980, to seven years in labor camp and five years of internal exile for "anti-Soviet agitation and propaganda"; Leonard Ternovsky (also a member of the Psychiatric Working Group) was sentenced on 30 December 1980, to three years in general regimen camp for "anti-Soviet slander"; Feliks Serebrov (also a member of the Psychiatric Working Group) was sentenced on 21 July 1981, to four years in strict regimen camp plus five years exile for "anti-Soviet agitation and propaganda" (sentenced in 1977 to one year in camp); Tatiana Osipova was sentenced on 2 April 1981, to five years in general regimen camp and five years of internal exile for "anti-Soviet agitation and propaganda" (Article 70, RSFSR Criminal Code); Anatoly Marchenko was sentenced on 4 September 1981, to ten years in special regimen camp plus five years of internal exile for "anti-Soviet agitation and propaganda"; Ivan Kovalev was sentenced on 2 April 1982, to five years of strict regimen camp plus five years internal exile for "anti-Soviet agitation and propaganda".[33]:249 Soviet authorities offered some activists the "opportunity" to emigrate. Lyudmila Alexeyeva emigrated in 1977. The Moscow Helsinki Group founding members Mikhail Bernshtam, Alexander Korchak, Vitaly Rubin emigrated, and Pyotr Grigorenko was stripped of his Soviet citizenship while seeking medical treatment abroad.[34]

Political repression of the Ukrainian Helsinki Group[edit]

Mykola Rudenko was sentenced on 1 July 1977, to seven years in strict regimen camp and five years of internal exile for "anti-Soviet agitation and propaganda"; Oleksy Tykhy was sentenced on 1 July 1977, to 10 years in special regimen camp and five years of internal exile for "anti-Soviet agitation and propaganda" and illegal possession of firearms (Article 222, Ukrainian Code); Myroslav Marynovych was sentenced on 29 March 1978, to seven years in strict regimen camp and five years of internal exile for "anti-Soviet agitation and propaganda"; Mykola Matusevych was sentenced on 29 March 1978, to seven years in strict regimen camp and five years of internal exile for "anti-Soviet agitation and propaganda"; Levko Lukyanenko was sentenced on 20 July 1978, to 10 years in special regimen camp and five years of internal exile for "anti-Soviet agitation and propaganda"; Oles Berdnyk was sentenced on 24 December 1979, to six years in strict regimen camp and three years of internal exile for "anti-Soviet agitation and propaganda"; Mykola Horbal was sentenced on 21 January 1980, to five years of camp for "resisting a representative of authority" and attempted rape (Article 117, Ukrainian Code); Zinovy Krasivsky was arrested on 12 March 1980, and transferred directly into labor camp to serve the eight months in camp and five years of internal exile remaining under a 1967 sentence for "anti-Soviet agitation and propaganda" and "treason"; Vitaly Kalynychenko was sentenced on 18 May 1980, to 10 years in special regimen camp and five years of internal exile for "anti-Soviet agitation and propaganda"; Vyacheslav Chornovil was sentenced on 6 June 1980, to five years in strict regimen camp for attempted rape (Arrested before completion of previous term of six years camp and three years exile); Olha Heyko was sentenced on 26 August 1980, to three years general regimen camp for "anti-Soviet slander" (Article 187, Ukrainian Code); Vasyl Stus was sentenced on 14 October 1980, to 10 years in special regimen camp and 5 years of internal exile for "anti-Soviet agitation and propaganda" (Article 62, Ukrainian Code); Oksana Meshko was sentenced on 6 January 1981, to 6 months in strict regimen camp and five years of internal exile for "anti-Soviet agitation and propaganda"; Ivan Sokulsky was sentenced on 13 January 1981, to five years in prison, five years in camp, plus five years of exile for "anti-Soviet agitation and propaganda"; Ivan Kandyba was sentenced on 24 July 1981, to 10 years special regimen camp plus five years exile for "anti-Soviet agitation and propaganda"; Petro Rozumny was conditionally released from camp early in Fall 1981, but was working on a compulsory labor brigade; Vasyl Striltsiv was sentenced in October 1981, to six years in camp on unknown charges (In 1979, he was given a two-year term for "violation of internal passport laws"); Yaroslav Lesiv was sentenced on 15 November 1981, to five years of strict regimen camp for "possession of narcotics" (In 1980, he got two-year term for "possession of narcotics"); Vasyl Sichko was sentenced on 4 January 1982, to three years strict regimen camp for "possession of narcotics" (In 1979, he got three-year term for "anti-Soviet slander"); Yuri Lytvyn was sentenced in April 1982, to ten years of special regimen camp plus five years of exile for "anti-Soviet agitation and propaganda" (In 1979, he got three year-term for "resisting a representative of authority"); Petro Sichko was sentenced in June 1982, to three years in strict regimen camp for "anti-Soviet slander" (In 1979, he got three-year term for "anti-Soviet slander").[33]:250–251 By 1983 the Ukrainian Helsinki Group had 37 members, of whom 22 were in prison camps, 5 were in exile, 6 emigrated to the West, 3 were released and were living in Ukraine, 1 (Mykhailo Melnyk) committed suicide.[35]

Political repression of the Lithuanian Helsinki Group[edit]

Viktoras Petkus was sentenced on 13 July 1978, to three years in prison, seven years in special regimen camp and five years of internal exile for "anti-Soviet agitation and propaganda"; Algirdas Statkevičius was sentenced on 11 August 1980, to forcible psychiatric treatment after being arrested on 14 February 1980, reportedly for "anti-Soviet activities" (U.S. citizen); Vytautas Skuodys was sentenced on 22 December 1980, to seven years strict regimen camp and five years of internal exile for "anti-Soviet agitation and propaganda" (U.S. citizen, also member of the Catholic Committee); Mečislovas Jurevičius was sentenced on 25 June 1981, to three years of strict regimen camp for "organization of religious processions"; Vytautas Vaičiūnas was sentenced on 25 June 1981, to 2 and half years of general regimen camp for "organization of religious processions".[33]:251–252

Dissidents about their dissent[edit]

Fellow dissident and one of the founders of the Moscow Helsinki Group Lyudmila Alexeyeva wrote:

What would happen if citizens acted on the assumption that they have rights? If one person did it, he would become a martyr; if two people did it, they would be labeled an enemy organization; if thousands of people did it, the state would have to become less oppressive.[36]:275

According to Soviet dissident Victor Davydoff, totalitarian system has no mechanisms that could change the behavior of the ruling group from within.[37] Any attempts to change this are immediately suppressed through repression.[37] Dissidents appealed to international human rights organizations, foreign governments, and there was a result.[37] The same should be used now as well; in the situation where the mass manipulation through the media brought the country to the point where people do not realize what happens in the country, when people do not understand what is going on in the world, one can only rely on the fact that those who know and understand will be able to find common language with people abroad and thus to change the situation.[37]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Carlisle, Rodney; Golson, Geoffrey (2008). The Reagan era from the Iran сrisis to Kosovo. ABC-CLIO. p. 88. ISBN 1851098852. 
  2. ^ Smith, Stephen (2014). The Oxford handbook of the history of communism. OUP Oxford. p. 379. ISBN 0199602050. 
  3. ^ Stone, Alan (1985). Law, psychiatry, and morality: essays and analysis. American Psychiatric Pub. p. 5. ISBN 0880482095. 
  4. ^ Singer, Daniel (2 January 1998). "Socialism and the Soviet Bloc". The Nation. 
  5. ^ Rosenthal, Abe (2 June 1989). "Soviet dissenters used to die for speaking out". The Dispatch. p. 5. 
  6. ^ Altshuler, Stuart (2005). From exodus to freedom: a history of the Soviet Jewry movement. Rowman & Littlefield. p. 61. ISBN 0742549364. 
  7. ^ Подрабинек, Александр (2014). Диссиденты [Dissidents] (in Russian). Moscow: АСТ. ISBN 978-5-17-082401-4. 
  8. ^ Shirk, Susan (Winter 1977–1978). "Human rights: what about China?". Foreign Policy (29): 109–127. doi:10.2307/1148534. JSTOR 1148534. 
  9. ^ Bergman, Jay (July 1992). "Soviet dissidents on the Holocaust, Hitler and Nazism: a study of the preservation of historical memory". The Slavonic and East European Review 70 (3): 477–504. JSTOR 4211013. 
  10. ^ Yakobson, Anatoly; Yakir, Pyotr; Khodorovich, Tatyana; Podyapolskiy, Gregory; Maltsev, Yuri; et al. (21 August 1969). "An Appeal to The UN Committee for Human Rights". The New York Review of Books. 
  11. ^ Horvath, Robert (November 2007). ""The Solzhenitsyn effect": East European dissidents and the demise of the revolutionary privilege". Human Rights Quarterly 29 (4): 879–907. doi:10.1353/hrq.2007.0041. 
  12. ^ Fox, Karen; Skorobogatykh, Irina; Saginova, Olga (September 2005). "The Soviet evolution of marketing thought, 1961–1991: from Marx to marketing". Marketing Theory 5 (3): 283–307. doi:10.1177/1470593105054899. 
  13. ^ Glazov, Yuri (1985). The Russian mind since Stalin’s death. D. Reidel Publishing Company. p. 105. ISBN 9027719691. 
  14. ^ Binder, David (Summer 1977). "The quiet dissident: East Germany's Reiner Kunze". The Wilson Quarterly 1 (4): 158–160. JSTOR 40255268. 
  15. ^ "Хельсинкский аккорд" [Helsinki Accord] (in Russian). Radio Liberty. 1 August 2015. 
  16. ^ Prisoners of conscience in the USSR: Their treatment and conditions (PDF, immediate download). London: Amnesty International Publications. 1975. p. 118. ISBN 0900058137. Archived (PDF) from the original on 13 November 2015. 
  17. ^ Political Prisoners in the U.S.S.R. New York: The Committee for the Defense of Soviet Political Prisoners. 1975. 
  18. ^ Inside Soviet prisons. Documents of the struggle for human and national rights in the USSR (PDF). New York: The Committee for the Defense of Soviet Political Prisoners. 1976. OCLC 3514696. Archived (PDF) from the original on 5 November 2015. 
  19. ^ The abuse of psychiatry in the USSR: Soviet dissenters in psychiatric prisons. New York: The Committee for the Defense of Soviet Political Prisoners. 1976. ASIN B00CRZ0EAC. 
  20. ^ a b Howell, John (Spring 1983). "The Carter human rights policy as applied to the Soviet Union". Presidential Studies Quarterly 13 (2): 286–295. JSTOR 27547926. 
  21. ^ Mydans, Seth (18 February 1977). "Sakharov gets personal letter from Carter". Schenectady Gazette. LXXXIV (121). 
  22. ^ Dean, Richard (January–March 1980). "Contacts with the West: the dissidents' view of Western support for the human rights movement in the Soviet Union". Universal Human Rights 2 (1): 47. doi:10.2307/761802. 
  23. ^ Snyder, Sarah (2011). Human rights activism and the end of the Cold War: a transnational history of the Helsinki network. Cambridge University Press. p. 73. ISBN 1139498924. 
  24. ^ Volkogonov, Dmitri; Shukman, Harold (1998). Autopsy for an empire: the seven leaders who built the Soviet regime. Simon & Schuster. p. 342. ISBN 0684834200. 
  25. ^ "Писатели-диссиденты: биобиблиографические статьи (начало)" [Dissident writers: bibliographic articles (beginning)]. Новое литературное обозрение [New Literary Review] (in Russian) (66). 2004. 
  26. ^ a b Shlapentokh, Vladimir (1990). Soviet intellectuals and political power: the post-Stalin era. I.B.Tauris. ISBN 1850432848. 
  27. ^ Ерошок, Зоя (13 February 2015). "Людмила Алексеева: "Я — человек, склонный быть счастливым"" [Lyudmila Alexeyeva, "I am a man prone to be happy"]. Novaya Gazeta (in Russian) (15). 
  28. ^ Murray, Thomas (June 1983). "Genetic screening in the workplace: ethical issues". Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine 25 (6): 451–454. doi:10.1097/00043764-198306000-00009. PMID 6886846. 
  29. ^ Reich, Walter (August 1978). "Diagnosing Soviet dissidents. Courage becomes madness, and deviance disease". Harper's Magazine 257 (1539): 31–37. PMID 11662503. 
  30. ^ Bowers, Leonard (2003). The social nature of mental illness. Routledge. p. 135. ISBN 1134587279. 
  31. ^ Sharlet, Robert (Autumn 1978). "Dissent and repression in the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe: changing patterns since Khrushchev". International Journal 33 (4): 763–795. doi:10.2307/40201689. JSTOR 40201689. 
  32. ^ Shlapentokh, Vladimir (March 1990). "The justification of political conformism: the mythology of Soviet intellectuals". Studies in Soviet Thought 39 (2): 111–135. doi:10.1007/BF00838027. JSTOR 20100501. 
  33. ^ a b c "Appendix B. Imprisoned members of the Helsinki monitoring groups in the USSR and Lithuania". Implementation of the Final Act of the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe: findings and recommendations seven years after Helsinki. Report submitted to the Congress of the United States by the Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe. November 1982 (PDF, immediate download). Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office. 1982. Archived from the original on 22 December 2015. 
  34. ^ Snyder, Sarah (2011). Human rights activism and the end of the Cold War: a transnational history of the Helsinki network. Human rights in history. New York: Cambridge University Press. p. 75. ISBN 1107645107. 
  35. ^ Zinkevych, Osyp (1993). "Ukrainian Helsinki Group". In Kubiĭovych, Volodymyr; Struk, Danylo (eds.). Encyclopedia of Ukraine. Vol. 5. University of Toronto Press. pp. 387–388. ISBN 0802030106. 
  36. ^ Alexeyeva, Ludmilla (1987). Soviet dissent: contemporary movements for national, religious, and human rights. Middletown, Connecticut: Wesleyan University Press. p. 275. ISBN 0-8195-6176-2. 
  37. ^ a b c d Гальперович, Данила (21 October 2015). "Для выхода "Хроники текущих событий" в России опять пришло время" [Time is ripe again for issuing A Chronicle of Current Events in Russia] (in Russian). Voice of America. 

Further reading[edit]

Outsiders' works
Insiders' works

Audiovisual material[edit]

Nonconformism and Dissent in the Soviet Bloc

See also[edit]