Valeriya Novodvorskaya

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Valeriya Novodvorskaya
Valeriya Novodvorskaya3.jpg
1st Chairman of the Democratic Union
In office
8 May 1988 – 12 July 2014
Preceded by Position created
Personal details
Born Valeriya Ilyinichna Novodvorskaya
(1950-05-17)17 May 1950
Baranovichi, Byelorussian SSR, Soviet Union
Died 12 July 2014(2014-07-12) (aged 64)
Moscow, Russia
Cause of death Toxic shock syndrome
Nationality Russian
Political party Democratic Union
Alma mater Moscow Region State University
Occupation Journalist
Religion Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church

Valeriya Ilyinichna Novodvorskaya (Russian: Вале́рия Ильи́нична Новодво́рская, 17 May 1950, Baranovichi, Byelorussian SSR – 12 July 2014, Moscow) was a liberal[1] Russian politician, Soviet dissident, the founder and the chairwoman of the "Democratic Union" party, and a member of the editorial board of The New Times.[2]

Early years[edit]

Novodvorskaya was born in 1950 to a Jewish engineer Ilya Borisovich (Boruchovich) Burshtyn and a pediatrician Nina Feodorovna Novodvorskaya who came from a noble Russian family.[3] Her parents divorced in 1967; Ilya Borisovich later emigrated to America.

Novodvorskaya has been active in the Soviet dissident movement since her youth, and first imprisoned by the Soviet authorities in 1969 for distributing leaflets that criticized the Soviet invasion in Czechoslovakia (see Prague Spring). The leaflets included her poetry: "Thank you, the Communist Party for our bitterness and despair, for our shameful silence, thank you the Party!"[4] Novodvorskaya was only 19 at this time. She was arrested and imprisoned at Soviet psychiatric hospital and, like many other Soviet dissidents, diagnosed with "sluggish schizophrenia".[5] In the early 1990s, psychiatrists of the Independent Psychiatric Association of Russia proved that the claim of her mental illness was bogus.[6][7] She described her experience in psikhushka in her book Beyond Despair.


Political career[edit]

Novodvorskaya stood as a candidate for the radical liberal party Democratic Union in the 1993 Russian legislative election in a single-mandate district as part of the Russia's Choice bloc, and she also contested the 1995 Russian legislative election on the list of the Party of Economic Freedom. She was not elected in either election, and never held public office.[8]

Political activism[edit]

Novodvorskaya self-identified primarily as a liberal politician. She was called «a grandmother of the Russian democracy», «Russia's 'Don Quixote' of democracy», «a good Samaritan» and «a critic of Russian realities in the best traditions of Pyotr Chaadayev, Vissarion Belinsky and Alexander Herzen» by her colleagues.[9][10][11] She also sometimes called herself and her allies successors to the Russian White movement tradition.[12] She had been openly critical of Russian government policies, including Chechen Wars, domestic policies of Vladimir Putin, and the alleged rebirth of Soviet propaganda in Russia[13][14][15] Her consistent criticism of Russia's past and present, of political and social life, as well as her extravagant lifestyle granted her titles such as «the eternal dissident» and «an idealist at the edge of madness».[16]

In an interview with the Russian radio station Ekho Moskvy, in which she was discussing the 2008 South Ossetia War, Novodvorskaya said that Shamil Basayev was a democrat, given his support of Boris Yeltsin during the 1991 Soviet coup d'état attempt and his participation in the government of Aslan Maskhadov in 1997, who had appointed Basayev Deputy Premier of the Ichkerian government.[17] According to her, it was Russian governmental policies in Chechnya that turned Basayev into a terrorist.[18] In response, Alexey Venediktov, the editor-in-chief of the radio station, pulled the recording and transcripts of the program from the Ekho Moskvy website.[19] She later accused Venediktov of censorship and slander and suggested that the decision to remove the interview may have been due to Gazprom, a state-owned company, being a controlling shareholder in Ekho Moskvy.[20] Venediktov asserted this to be his own decision and confirmed that Novodvorskaya was banned from the station until the end of 2008.[21]

Valeria Novodvorskaya alleged that the inclusion of the scenario of the blowing up of Lech Kaczyński's aircraft in a March 2010 mockumentary shown on Georgian television is evidence of complicity of the Russian State in the death of the Polish President in a plane crash on 10 April 2010 in Smolensk Oblast.[22]

Accusations of Russophobia[edit]

Opponents accused Novodvorskaya of her anti-Russian, anti-Soviet and openly pro-American positions, of expressing Russophobic views.[23][24][25][26] On January 27, 1995 a so-called Novodvorskaya Case was launched by the Office of the Prosecutor General (see Novodvorskaya Case in the Russian Wikipedia) as a reaction to her interview given to Estonian journalists on April 6, 1994 and several publications in the Novy Vzglyad newspaper.[27][28][29] All materials were checked for «propaganda of civil war», «of inferiority of people based on their ethnicity» and «incitement to hatred». Some of the scandalous quotes include:

«I cannot imagine how can anyone love a Russian for his laziness, for his lying, for his poverty, for his spinelessness, for his slavery. But maybe that's not all his characteristics». According to the article Hatred Lessons by the Estonian author Lembit Annus of the Pravda newspaper, Novodvorskaya also inspired the Baltic states to join NATO and prepare to defend their countries from Russia with weapons.

«By their whining, their linguistic dullness, their nostalgia for the USSR, their love for red flags Russians from Estonia and Latvia proved that they can't have (equal) rights when entering the European civilization. They are kept by a close stool — and rightly so... Personally I'm fed up with human rights». From the article We Won't Give Our Rights to the Left! in Novy Vzglyad, №46, August 28, 1993

«Manic depression — so that's what they call «the Russian miracle» and «the Russian soul»! That's why we are so good at war! Unhealthy aggression of a maniac masterfully aimed at aliens by our own rulers that turns into a slavish prostration after the return from war!.. Our President should either give us weapons and start a new fight, or lend us a Skete big enough for 10 million of free people who would rather explode or burn themselves down than live side by side with the triumphant red-brown majority». From the article Russia № 6 in Novy Vzglyad, №1, January 15, 1994

«...And if we have to destroy the whole country together with all its population in order to free the Earth from communists, fascists and imperialists — we won't chicken and bless our own doom. Some centuries ago our ancestors burned down Moscow so that our enemy wouldn't get it. Today we have all means to make so that our enemy won't get Russia. Being dead is better than being red». From the article A Landscape Instead of a Battle, Novy Vzglyad, №3, 1994

In 2009 Novodvorskaya published an autobiographical book entitled Farewell of Slavianka. A Thriller that includes all the articles from Novy Vzglad, the case details, fragments of speech given by her lawyer Henri Reznik in 1996 and her last word in court.[28] The case lasted for two years and was apparently closed.

Personal life[edit]

Throughout her life, Novodvorskaya remained a celibate virgin. When asked about it, she stated that she was not interested in sex. She added that she had never felt sexually attracted to anyone at all.[30] In another interview, Novodvorskaya admitted that she had fallen in love a couple of times but never acted on her feelings after discovering disappointing traits in the people she became interested in.[31] Novodvorskaya later said she did not marry or have a family because the KGB had deprived her of such an opportunity in 1969: "Mother is in one prison camp, father in another. What should a child do in this situation? To my mind, a full irresponsibility."[32]

Throughout her life, Novodvorskaya lived in a flat with her mother Nina Fyodorovna (Нина Федоровна Новодворская, born in 1928), a pediatrician, and cat Stasik.[33] During summer they rented a dacha in Kratovo.[31][34] She was fond of swimming, science fiction, theater and cats.[34]

Appearance by V.I. Novodvorskaya at the rally on 9 October 2010

In 1990 Novodvorskay was baptized by the noncanonical Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church Reunited. She belonged to that church till her death while remaining highly critical of the Russian Orthodox Church.[35] According to her priest Yakov Krotov, «she was more of a Christian than I ever was».[36]


On 12 July 2014, Novodvorskaya died of toxic shock syndrome which arose from phlegmon of the left foot.[37]


Novodvorskaya received the Starovoytova award "for contribution to the defense of human rights and strengthening democracy in Russia". She said at the ceremony that "we are not in opposition to, but in confrontation with, the present regime".[38]



  1. ^ Lukin, Alexander. The Political Culture of the Russian "Democrats". New York and Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2000. ISBN 0-19-829558-8, ISBN 978-0-19-829558-7. P. 260n.
  2. ^ (also mentioned, Gleb Yakunin and Konstantin Borovoi) Arbatov, Alexei. Military Reform in Russia,International Security, Vol. 22, No. 4
  3. ^ Rachel Gedrich. Exclusive interview with Ilya Borisovich Burshtyn who talks about his legendary Lera for the first time. Krugozor magazine (Boston). May 15, 2015 (in Russian)
  4. ^ Barron, John (1975). KGB - The Secret Work of Soviet Secret Agents. London: Corgi Books. ISBN 0-552-09890-6.  p. 55 in Russian edition (ISBN 0-911971-29-7)
  5. ^ Valeriya Ilyinichna Novodvorskaya –
  6. ^ Савенко, Юрий (2009). 20-летие НПА России. Nezavisimiy Psikhiatricheskiy Zhurnal (in Russian) (№ 1): 5–18. ISSN 1028-8554. Retrieved 26 December 2011. 
  7. ^ Савенко, Юрий (2007). Дело Андрея Новикова. Психиатрию в политических целях использует власть, а не психиатры: Интервью Ю.С. Савенко корреспонденту "Новой газеты" Галине Мурсалиевой. Nezavisimiy Psikhiatricheskiy Zhurnal (in Russian) (№ 4): 88–91. ISSN 1028-8554. Retrieved 26 December 2011. 
  8. ^ Millar, James R. (2004). Encyclopedia of Russian History. Macmillan Reference USA. pp. 372–373. ISBN 0-02-865907-4. OCLC 62165740. 
  9. ^ Anna Badkhen. DEMOCRACY ON THE BRINK: Dissent / Russia back on track to absolute rule / Democracy activists again out in the cold. San Francisco Chronicle, March 10, 2004
  10. ^ Robert Coalson. Valeria Novodvorskaya: Russia's 'Don Quixote' Of Democracy, Human Rights at Radio Liberty, June 03, 2016
  11. ^ Nikolai Svanidze, Vladimir Ryzhkov. In The Memory of Valeria Novodvorskaya. Echo of Moscow, July 12, 2014 (in Russian)
  12. ^ "Nad propast'yu vo lzhi" by Valeriya Novodvorskaya. AST Publishing, 1998. ISBN 5-7390-0423-3, ISBN 5-15-000959-8
  13. ^ Газета «Новый взгляд» N46 от 28 августа 1993г.. Democratic Union website
  14. ^ Комсомольская правда (9.2.2007)
  15. ^ Валерия Новодворская на радио "Эхо Москвы" 29 августа 2008 г., radio interview, August 29, 2008, on "Moscow Echo" (Ekho Moskvy)
  16. ^ TOP-7 Honest Politicians of Russia by RBC Information Systems, September 7, 2011 (in Russian)
  17. ^ Aslan Maskhadov: Five Steps into History, Prague Watchdog, retrieved November 13, 2008.
  18. ^ Novodvorskaya, Valeriya. Валерия Новодворская на радио "Эхо Москвы" 29 августа 2008 г. (in Russian). Democratic Union. Retrieved 2008-11-10. 
  19. ^ Новодворскую изгнали с "Эха Москвы" за восхваление Басаева (in Russian). 1 September 2008. Retrieved 2008-11-16.  [Archived] at WebCite
  20. ^ Novodvorskaya, Valeriya (31 August 2008). "EchoMSK : Заявление Валерии Новодворской" (in Russian). Ekho Moskvy. Retrieved 2008-11-10. 
  21. ^ "The radio that saddles". Novaya Gazeta. 24 September 2008. Retrieved 2008-11-16.  [Archived] at WebCite
  22. ^ Novodvorskaya, Valeria (11 April 2010). Жестокая посадка (in Russian). Retrieved 12 April 2010. 
  23. ^ Alexei Bogachyov. «Novodvorskaya Virus» As a Mental Disorder., August 4, 2014 (in Russian)
  24. ^ Sergei Sokurov. An Ostracon for Every Novodvorskaya. Zavtra newspaper, August 26, 2013 (in Russian)
  25. ^ Vladimir Zhirinovsky vs. Valeria Novodvorskaya at the On the Stand talk-show by Vladimir Solovyov, December 11, 2003
  26. ^ Dmitry Lenskiy vs. Valeria Novodvorskaya at the On the Stand talk-show by Vladimir Solovyov, May 17, 2007
  27. ^ The articles and interview by V. Novodvorskaya that appear in her criminal case at the Democratic Union official website (in Russian)
  28. ^ a b Valeria Novodvorskaya (2009). Farewell of Slavianka. A Thriller. Moscow: Zakharov Books, 464 pages. ISBN 978-5-8159-0893-2
  29. ^ The Judicial Panel for Criminal Affairs of the Supreme Court of Russia at - a companies law internet archive, from December 23, 1996 (in Russian)
  30. ^ Александр Чаленко (December 19, 2010). "Бомбовое интервью с Новодворской: о сексе, о ее девственности и о Наполеоне, соучастнике Холокоста. Ну и, конечно, про Западную Украину". Retrieved 2013-02-12. 
  31. ^ a b Валерия Новодворская – между весталкой и гейшей
  32. ^ Новодворская: Запад Украины должен основать свое государство, "Обозреватель", 17 July 2010.
  33. ^ Известная девственница снялась для Playboy, "Утро", 9 November 2005.
  34. ^ a b Новодворская Валерия Ильинична
  35. ^ Novodvorskaya's Interdict on Echo of Moscow, October 4, 2012 (in Russian)
  36. ^ Vladimir Oyvin. YAKOV KROTOV: Of all members of our parish Novodvorskaya was the most comfortable one. - Portal of religious news, 2014 (in Russian)
  37. ^ "Правозащитница Валерия Новодворская умерла в Москве". 2014-07-12. 
  38. ^ Anna Politkovskaya (2007) A Russian Diary: A Journalist's Final Account of Life, Corruption, and Death in Putin's Russia, Random House, ISBN 978-1-4000-6682-7, page 38.
  39. ^ "Farewell of the Slav. Thriller: collection". Retrieved 2014-07-13. 

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