Saturday, January 22, 2005

A very interesting entry about Soviet dissidents at A Step At a Time.

David McDuff writes from a relatively rare perspective of a foreigner who had a chance to live in the Brezhnev-time Soviet Union - and I hope he'll continue sharing his stories:

As a British Council exchange student in Moscow during the late 1960s and early 1970s, I had some experience of the Soviet dissident movement - the stazhory, as we were called, housed in Zona V of the Stalin-era MGU skyscraper on Lenin Hills (now Sparrow Hills), functioned in some sense as guinea pigs for the very active KGB wing of the student Komsomol brigade in the Zone, and my block neighbour happened to be a Canadian-Ukrainian activist and history scholar visiting from Berkeley, California, who was subsequently expelled from the Soviet Union after a press campaign against him. Through him, I gained a partial but first-hand knowledge of Soviet dissident life, and became acquainted not only with dissidents in person, but also with their publications and manifestoes.

(I wonder what became of that Diaspora Ukrainian after they had expelled him.)

The focus of David McDuff's earlier entry on the dissidents is Cali Ruchala's enlightening text on Yuri Galanskov. (I did come across it, too, sometime last fall, when I was trying to write about Galanskov as well.) Here's a remarkable observation from Cali Ruchala's recent email to David McDuff:

As tragic as Galanskov's story is, I have to say that today, being a little older, I would make Ginzburg the focus of the article. It's no fault of Galanskov but I've come to understand that it's harder to live a long life and remain true to one's beliefs than it is to become a young martyr.

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