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Killed in Slovyansk, Andrey Mironov Sought Out Truth Despite the Costs

Published: May 31, 2014 (Issue # 1813)




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Andrey Mironov, of one of the Soviet Union's last dissidents, was buried on Friday.

Mironov, who after the Soviet Union's collapse became a dogged observer of the Chechen wars, was killed on May 25 in the eastern Ukrainian town of Slovyansk when he and an Italian journalist, Andrea Rochelli, came under bombardment, allegedly from Ukrainian forces.

In some of the first news reports that emerged, Mironov was named as the Italian reporter's translator. But he was much more than that.

Mironov was imprisoned in 1984 — Orwell's year — as he would call it, for photocopying and distributing banned books. His friend, journalist and former Irish Times International editor Seamus Martin, recalls how he was tortured by the KGB.

"One interrogator made a rope from a towel, said he would hang him and asked him to write a suicide note. Andrey refused," Martin explained.

"The interrogator strangled him until he collapsed. When Andrey came to, he said that he felt he had won. "They were the weak ones. I was the strong one," he said.

Mironov was sentenced to four years in prison but released under Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev's administration after serving 18 months. As he told Martin, "At the Reykjavik summit with U.S. President Ronald Reagan, he announced there were no political prisoners in the Soviet Union. I watched him say this on the only television set we had in the Gulag."

After he was released, Mironov went on to work as a human rights activist, including as a member of the human rights group Memorial. He witnessed how the dissidents' struggle moved above ground after the fall of the Soviet Union and citied Russia's newly independent media as a major force for change.

"They are scared," he told Baltimore Sun reporter Deborah Stead, referring to the government authorities." A Kalashnikov has a barrel of only 7.62 millimeters, whereas the 'barrel' of a television camera is bigger. That is the difference."

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ALL ABOUT TOWN

Friday, Aug. 1


Bikers from all around the world will gather to take part in a parade, extreme shows and rock concerts during the International Biker Festival that revs its engines today and runs through Aug. 3 near Olgino Hotel, 4/2 Primorskogo Shosse.


The Peter and Paul Fortress will be turned into an open-air cinema today and tomorrow as part of the 5th International Short and Animation Film Festival. A huge screen across the fortress walls will air short films non-stop with board games, photo sessions and other activities also on offer for visitors. For more information, visit www.opencinemafest.ru



Saturday, Aug. 2


Gatchina Palace Park Museum will host its second annual Night of Light, an impressive audio-visual show across the night sky. Tickets are 600 rubles ($16).


If graphic design is more your thing then check out Illustration Day, where you will be able to visit an exhibition, attend lectures by professionals and even show experts some of your own work. The event starts at noon at Zona Deystvia, 73 Ligovsky Prospekt. The entrance fee is 350 rubles ($10).



Sunday, Aug. 3


History lovers shouldn’t miss the chance to see reenactments of World War I battles in Pushkin at noon. Besides exciting war scenes, visitors can enjoy live music, historical costumes, an equestrian show and a fancy-dress parade starting from the Moscow gates.


Garage Sale, the popular and growing flea market where nothing is priced over 500 rubles ($14.11), starts today at noon in Loft-Project Etagi, 74 Ligovsky Prospekt. Be sure to get in early to score a bargain. Entry costs 50 rubles ($1.40)



Monday, Aug. 4


Continue the working week with a calm and steady mind with a free yoga lesson at 7 p.m. in the Bukvoyed store at 23A Vladimirsky Prospekt.



Tuesday, Aug. 5


Visit The Romanov Dynasty doll exhibition today, where more than fifty porcelain dolls depicting Russian rulers, and made by Olina Ventzel, will be on show. The exhibition continues through Aug. 31 in Sheremetyev Palace, 34 Fontanka Naberezhnaya.



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