13 Nov 2022 · 8.00 am

Olga Rosenblum: Individuals, Not Politicians: Soviet Dissidents in Search of (Political) Contacts in the Mid-1970s

Venue: The Palmer House Hilton, 17 E Monroe St, Chicago, IL 60603, USA
Research project(s): Soviet Dissidence and the Public

Lecture in the panel The Precarious Lives of Late Soviet Inakomyslie as part of the 2022 ASEEES Convention in Chicago, 10–13 Nov 2022

In the 1960s, only a few dissidents established contacts with the West, such as Andrei Amalrik, Pavel Litvinov, Viktor Krasin, while others did not consider it a necessary component of their activities. By the middle of the 1970s, this situation had changed. In September 1973, international attention was locked on the Soviet dissidents due to the press conference of Petr Yakir and Victor Krasin and the persecution of Andrey Sakharov and Alexander Solzhenitsyn. Other factors in this internationalization of Soviet dissent were also the emigration of many dissidents, the Helsinki Accords and creation of the Moscow Helsinki group, and the first International Sakharov hearings held in Copenhagen. This paper examines the letters addressed by Andrei Sakharov and Lev Kopelev to Jimmy Carter and Willy Brandt in 1976–1977 and focuses on their authors’ efforts to get help for political prisoners without getting openly involved in political activities. We will discuss the opposition of humanitarian and political activities as well as the authors’ explicit and implicit reasons for asking for help.

Literary scholar Olga Rosenblum is a research fellow with the project Soviet Dissidence and the Public during De- and Re-Stalinization, funded by the ZfL and the Leibniz Association’s Matching Support Fund for Researchers at Risk in the Ukraine War.