Monday, Jul. 22, 2002. Page 4
Soviet Dissident Ginzburg DeadCombined Reports
Sergei Karpukhin /
Alexander Ginzburg taking his KGB
file from then-FSB head Alexander Vinogradov in
1995 as historian Alexander Daniel looks on.
PARIS -- Alexander Ginzburg,
leading Soviet dissident and human rights campaigner,
died Friday in Paris. He was 65.
Ginzburg was an advocate of
nonviolent change who sought to embarrass the Soviet
authorities by pressing them to respect their own laws.
He also sought to increase external pressure on the
Soviet Union to show more respect for individual rights
by smuggling out information about abuses to the West,
which could be broadcast back to the Soviet people by
Western radio stations.
"He had been ill since he
left prison and he had cancer," Ginzburg's son, also
named Alexander, said from the family's Paris apartment.
Ginzburg had attracted the
attention of the Soviet authorities in 1959 with a
typewritten magazine called Syntax, containing bitter
poems that reflected his generation's anger and
disillusionment with the Soviet Union. It became the
first of the so-called samizdat journals of the
After three issues, Ginzburg
was arrested by the KGB and put in Lubyanka
In 1967, he was arrested
again for compiling what he called a "White Book'' about
the trial of dissident writers Yuli Daniel and Andrei
Sinyavsky and smuggling it to the West.
He was sentenced to five
years in a labor camp.
In 1974, he agreed to
administer a fund established by exiled Soviet writer
Alexander Solzhenitsyn to aid the families of political
prisoners. He was also active in Helsinki Watch, an
organization set up to monitor the Soviet Union's
compliance with the human rights commitments in the
Helsinki accords, which it signed in 1975.
The upshot of Ginzburg's
renewed dissident activities was another trial, in 1978,
which resulted in an eight-year term.
But in 1979, under the
growing pressure of international opinion, Ginzburg,
together with four other leading dissidents, was
released to the West in exchange for two Soviet spies.
"He was the detonator of the
democratic movement at the end of the 1960s and
beginning of the 1970s," said Boris Zolotukhin, 72, who
defended Ginzburg at his trial in 1968.
"His trial was closed and the
outcome was, of course, known in advance. ... He held up
very courageously throughout," added Zolotukhin, who was
barred from practicing law for 20 years after defending
In Paris, Ginzburg, known as
"Alik" to friends, maintained pressure on post-Soviet
Russia to improve its human rights record.
"Up until the final days of
his life, Alik was one of the most active and responsive
participants in Russia's human rights movement," said
Yelena Bonner, the wife of Soviet dissident, human
rights activist and physicist Andrei Sakharov.
"He ... had a superb sense of
humor and irony, which he maintained in even the most
difficult conditions -- in prison, in the camps and when
he was free," Bonner said by telephone from the United
A funeral is scheduled for
Monday at the Russian memorial cemetery in
Sainte-Genevieve des Bois, where many prominent Russians
opposed to the 1917 Bolshevik Revolution are buried,
Ekho Moskvy radio and TVS television reported. He is
survived by his wife, Arina, and two sons. (Reuters,
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