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Russia Needs Dissidents Like Novodvorskaya

Published: July 23, 2014 (Issue # 1821)



  • Novodvorskaya at a rally in March. Her sign reads Putins Gang Go to Nuremberg!
    Photo: Dharmikatva / Wikimedia Commons

Valeria Novodvorskaya is dead. Novodvorskaya was not only an opposition politician, human rights activist and Soviet dissident who endured prison and Soviet punitive psychiatry, but also was a talented writer and publicist.

Putin, she once said, is a Chekist to his bones, a political incompetent and a follower of Stalin. He is vindictive and cruel and a creation of the shadowy Soviet system from which he emerged.

And that was far from the harshest criticism that Novodvorskaya ever leveled at Putin.

Despite being labeled criminals and maniacs, President Vladimir Putin and Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev expressed their condolences to her family. Medvedev issued a statement praising her contributions to Russia and her personal qualities. She did a great deal for democracy in our country, was actively engaged in human rights work and was never afraid to defend her point of view. This earned her the respect of her supporters and opponents.

The tormentors she battled her whole life now publicly mourn her, however insincerely, after her death. Novodvorskayas life, death and the Kremlins condolences capture the very essence of Russian history, society and statehood.

The loner-critic-writer is an exceptionally important factor in Russias public and political life. Such individuals are persecuted and repressed during their lifetimes, but immortalized after their deaths, their lonely voices thundering out across the country even after their corporeal presence has ended. These writers often de facto become the most important thinkers and politicians of their day, forming or heavily influencing state policy and the countrys political agenda for many decades into the future.

Novodvorskaya fits a classic character type in Russian history. In his article about social critic Alexander Radishchev, Alexander Pushkin defined the type as political fanatics. Writers, literary critics, journalists and publishers were the main opposition types of Russian history in both the 19th century and the Soviet period. Valeria Novodvorskaya is a direct successor to Radishchev, the Decembrists, Pyotr Chaadayev, Vissarion Belinsky, Alexander Herzen, Nikolai Ogarev, Nikolai Chernyshevsky, Georgy Plekhanov, Vladimir Lenin, who at times listed his occupation as writer, Andrei Sakharov and Alexander Solzhenitsyn.

Except for only rare and brief periods in the early and late 20th century, the Russian authorities never permitted the appearance of a Western-style politician with the attendant parties, elections and free press. Therefore, those individuals turned to literary expression as their only option and thus the main form of their oppositional activity. Even then they were often persecuted.

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ALL ABOUT TOWN

Wednesday, Sept. 17


AmChams Investment and Legal Committee Meeting convenes this morning in their office in the New St. Isaac Office Center at 9 a.m.


Learn more about the science of teaching English at todays EFL Seminar hosted by the British Book Center. Revolving around the topic of learning styles, the workshop will help attendees better understand the different effective learning methods that can be implemented to learn English more effectively.



Thursday, Sept. 18


Get your nerd on at Boomfest, St. Petersburgs answer to the United States popular ComicCon. Starting today, this international festival of comics will take over venues throughout the city center and includes exhibitions of comics and illustrations, film screenings, competitions and the chance to meet the genres authors, artists and experts.



Friday, Sept. 19


SPIBAs newest addition to their Cultural Discoveries events is Handmade in Germany, an exhibition featuring unique handmade objects of a significantly higher quality than mass-produced items. The work of over 100 German manufacturers will be displayed during the event, which opens today in the Lutheran Church of Saint Peter and Paul on Nevsky Prospekt and runs through Sept. 28.



Saturday, Sept. 20


Starting on Sept. 18 and ending tomorrow is the Extreme Fantasy Wakeboarding Festival in Sunpark by Sredny Suzdalskoye lake in the Ozerki region of the city.


Those after something more laid back can instead head to Jazz and Wine night at TerraVino with legendary jazz guitarist Ildar Kazahanov. 12/14 Admiralteyskaya Emb.



Sunday, Sept. 21


Learn more about African culture and get some exercise during todays Djembe and Vuvuzela, a bike ride starting in Palace Square that includes several stops where riders can listen to the music of Africa or watch short films about the continent. The riders plan to set off at 4 p.m. and all you need to join is a set of wheels.



Monday, Sept. 22


Do you love puppetry? If so, then be sure to go to BTK-Fest, a five-day festival that starts on Sept. 19 celebrating the art. Contemporaries from France, Belgium, the U.K. and other countries will join Russian artists to put on theatrical performances involving a variety of themes, materials and eras. Workshops and meetings are also scheduled for a chance to discuss the artistic medium in further depth.



Tuesday, Sept. 23


Marina Suhih, Director of the External Communications Department at Rostelecom North-West, and Yana Donskaya, HR Director for Northern Capital Gateway are just some of the confirmed participants of todays round table discussion on Interaction with Trade Unions being hosted by SPIBA. Confirm your attendance with SPIBA by Sept. 22.


Kino Expo 2014, an international film industry convention, will be at LenExpo from today until Sept. 26. The third largest exhibition of film equipment in the world, the expo focuses on not only Russia but former Soviet republics as well.



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