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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

Thursday, Oct. 2


The celebration of the bicentennial of the birth of Mikhail Lermontov continues with todays free exhibition in the citys Lermontov Library at 19 Liteiny Prospekt. Titled Under the Rustling Wings, the temporary exhibition will feature the costumes and scenery used in the 1917 production of Lermontovs play The Masquerade, which he wrote in 1835 when he was only 21 years old.



Friday, Oct. 3


Learn more about how to manage and evaluate employee performance during SPIBAs Human Resources Committee meeting this morning on Employee Assessment: Global and Local Trends. Starting at 9:30 a.m., the discussion will touch on such topics as the partnership between HR and business, reliable assessment strategies and more, with Tatiana Andrianova, the head of the SHL Russia and CIS branch in St. Petersburg, as the featured guest. Confirm your participation by Oct. 2 by emailing office@spiba.ru or calling 325 9091.


AmChams Procurement Committee Meeting is at 9 a.m. this morning in their office in the New St. Isaac Office Center on Ulitsa Yakubovicha.



Saturday, Oct. 4


Wine and cheese lovers will get their chance to revel during Scandinavia Country Club and Spas Wine Market Weekend. Going on today and tomorrow, wining diners can listen to live music, take part in culinary classes and, of course, sample a variety of fine wines from around the world. The cost of admission is 400 rubles ($10.30) for adults and 200 rubles ($5.15) for children.



Sunday, Oct. 5


Look for the latest fall fashions at the Autumn Market today in Freedom Anticafe at 7 Kazanskaya Ulitsa. The minimarket plans to offer clothes more flattering than the puffy jackets that are a staple of the citys cold-weather fashion, while offering the same amount of protection from the biting winds blowing off of the Baltic.



Monday, Oct. 6


SKA St. Petersburg, the citys KHL affiliate, welcomes Slovakian club HC Slovan in a match-up tonight at the Ice Palace near the Prospekt Bolshevikov metro station. The puck drops at 7:30 p.m. and tickets can be purchased on the clubs website or in person at either the arenas box office or the clubs merchandise store on Nevsky Prospekt.



Tuesday, Oct. 7


Learn more about Russias energy industry at the St. Petersburg Energy Forum that begins today and runs through Oct. 10. Attracting industry experts and political and business representatives, the forum plans to welcome more than 350 plus companies and their representatives to discuss the future of Russias largest economic sector.



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