The New York Times The New York Times Obituaries July 20, 2002  

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  Welcome, yzaks2

Aleksandr I. Ginzburg, 65, Poet Who Challenged Soviet System, Is Dead

By PAUL LEWIS

Aleksandr 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 given.

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.

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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 post-Stalin period.

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 term.

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.




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