Smith Jr., Paul A.
October 1968
Foreign Affairs;Oct68, Vol. 47 Issue 1, p151
This article comments on protests inspired by the trial and conviction of four Soviet citizens for anti-Soviet agitation and propaganda in January 1968. On January 12 the four were convicted and sentenced to labor camp for terms ranging from one to seven years. On the same day the first of a number of petitions, appeals and protests relating to the trial and to the general issue of civil rights in the Soviet Union was signed and circulated throughout Moscow by members of the Soviet intellectual Establishment. By early April the attitudes which this documentation represented had precipitated a distinct hardening in the official cultural policy of the regime. In the months since the trial the texts of a number of protest documents reached the West and were published in various newspapers and journals. By the end of April, at least twenty separate documents had become available, all relating to the January 8-12 trial of Aleksandr Ginzburg, Yuri Galanskov, Alexei Dobrovol'skiy and Vera Lashkova, and to the closely related detention of the mathematician Aleksandr Yesenin-Volpin. The Moscow protest reveals that this policy of creeping, legalistic reaction has stirred a widening pattern of resentment and concern among the intellectuals. With the Ginzburg affair, dissent ceased to be a family dispute over literary freedom within the upper levels of the literary community and became instead a question of constitutional principles and law affecting the entire society.


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