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Alexander Ginzburg, Soviet dissident

The Associated Press
Posted July 20 2002



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MOSCOW Alexander Ginzburg -- persecuted and jailed by Soviet authorities for starting the self-publishing movement that drove the dissident movement for decades -- died Friday in Paris, according to Russian news reports. He was 65.

A cause of death was not given. Mr. Ginzburg will be buried Monday in the Russian Memorial Cemetery south of Paris where many prominent countrymen who fled the 1917 Bolshevik Revolution are interred, Echo of Moscow radio and TVS television reported.

Mr. Ginzburg launched the literary journal Syntaxis in 1959, and it became one of the first "samizdat," or self-published, journals. The samizdat papers flourished and moved from hand to hand among members of the dissident movement as they sought to spread opposition to the repressive communist regime.

Only three issues of Syntaxis were released, however, and in 1960, while the 24-year-old Ginzburg was preparing the fourth, the KGB arrested him and sent him to an Arctic labor camp.

After his release two years later, he started compiling documents related to the arrest of prominent dissident Yuli Daniel and fellow writer Andrei Sinyavsky and published the work underground and abroad as The White Book in 1966.

Mr. Ginzburg was arrested a year later and spent five years in prison.

In 1972, he joined author Alexander Solzhenitsyn in organizing a fund to help Soviet political prisoners. In 1977, Mr. Ginzburg was arrested again, and in 1979 was exiled in to France, where he had lived since.

After his first release, Mr. Ginzburg appealed repeatedly to the KGB for the return of the Syntaxis materials. Then in 1995, the Federal Security Service, successor to the KGB, allowed Mr. Ginzburg to look at materials relating to his 1960 arrest and gave him selected documents from his KGB files.

"It was for me a shocking moment. They had saved almost everything," he said at the time.

Daniel's son Alexander called Mr. Ginzburg "the first real independent publisher and free journalist in Russia."

Natalya Solzhenitsyn, wife of the renowned writer, said Mr. Ginzburg "returned to people the understanding that they could be merciful, even though all around was this evil and horrible pressure."

Copyright 2002, South Florida Sun-Sentinel

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