leksandr I. Ginzburg, a poet and a frequently jailed
dissident in the Soviet Union who fought for human rights
during the Khrushchev and Brezhnev eras, died yesterday in his
adopted city of Paris. He was 65. No cause of death was
Mr. 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 so that it could be broadcast back to the Soviet
people by Western radio stations.
After nine years in prisons and labor camps, Mr. Ginzburg
and four others were flown to the United States in 1979 in
exchange for two convicted spies.
He 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 (or self-published) journals of the
After three issues, Mr. Ginzburg was expelled from Moscow
University, arrested by the K.G.B. and put in Lubyanka prison.
In 1967 he was arrested again for compiling what he called
a "White Book" about the trial of the 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 the
exiled Soviet writer, Aleksandr 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 Mr. Ginzburg's renewed dissident activities
was another trial, in 1978, which resulted in an eight-year
Questioned by the judge, he said he was "born in the Gulag
Archipelago" — a reference to Mr. Solzhenitsyn's classic
account of the Soviet prison camp system. Asked his
nationality, he replied "zek" — prisoner.
He served eight months before the Carter administration
succeeded in exchanging him after an international outcry.
Born in Moscow in 1936, Mr. Ginzburg was interested in
poetry and theater as a teenager but was also an accomplished
athlete. Although he was a practicing Russian Orthodox, he
adopted his mother's Jewish family name as a young man to
protest Stalin's anti-Semitic campaigns.
After leaving the Soviet Union, he settled in Paris,
working as a journalist on an émigré magazine. He is survived
by his wife, Arina, and two sons.